Financial innovations and macroeconomic volatility - comments
The Effects of the saving and banking glut on the U.S. economy
We use a quantitative equilibrium model with houses, collateralized debt, and foreign borrowing to study the impact of global imbalances on the U.S. economy in the 2000s. Our results suggest that the dynamics of foreign capital flows account for between one-fourth and one-third of the increase in U.S. house prices and household debt that preceded the financial crisis. The key to these findings is that the model generates the sustained low level of interest rates observed over that period.
Economic Predictions with Big Data: The Illusion of Sparsity
The availability of large data sets, combined with advances in the fields of statistics, machine learning, and econometrics, have generated interest in forecasting models that include many possible predictive variables. Are economic data sufficiently informative to warrant selecting a handful of the most useful predictors from this larger pool of variables? This post documents that they usually are not, based on applications in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and finance.
“Excess Savings” Are Not Excessive
How will the U.S. economy emerge from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Will it struggle to return to prior levels of employment and activity, or will it come roaring back as soon as vaccinations are widespread and Americans feel comfortable travelling and eating out? Part of the answer to these questions hinges on what will happen to the large amount of “excess savings” that U.S. households have accumulated since last March. According to most estimates, these savings are around $1.6 trillion and counting. Some economists have expressed the concern that, if a considerable fraction of these ...
Measuring the equilibrium real interest rate
The equilibrium real interest rate represents the real rate of return required to keep the economy?s output equal to potential output. This article discusses how to measure the equilibrium real interest rate, using an empirical structural model of the economy.
Investment shocks and the relative price of investment
We estimate a New-Neoclassical Synthesis model of the business cycle with two investment shocks. The first, an investment-specific technology shock, affects the transformation of consumption into investment goods and is identified with the relative price of investment. The second shock affects the production of installed capital from investment goods or, more broadly, the transformation of savings into future capital input. We find that this shock is the most important driver of U.S. business cycle fluctuations in the postwar period and that it is likely to proxy for more fundamental ...
Credit supply and the housing boom
The housing boom that preceded the Great Recession was the result of an increase in credit supply driven by looser lending constraints in the mortgage market. This view on the fundamental drivers of the boom is consistent with four empirical observations: the unprecedented rise in home prices, the surge in household debt, the stability of debt relative to home values, and the fall in mortgage rates. These facts are difficult to reconcile with the popular view that attributes the housing boom to looser borrowing constraints associated with lower collateral requirements. In fact, a slackening ...
What’s Up with the Phillips Curve?
U.S. inflation used to rise during economic booms, as businesses charged higher prices to cope with increases in wages and other costs. When the economy cooled and joblessness rose, inflation declined. This pattern changed around 1990. Since then, U.S. inflation has been remarkably stable, even though economic activity and unemployment have continued to fluctuate. For example, during the Great Recession unemployment reached 10 percent, but inflation barely dipped below 1 percent. More recently, even with unemployment as low as 3.5 percent, inflation remained stuck under 2 percent. What ...
The Mortgage Rate Conundrum
We document the emergence of a disconnect between mortgage and Treasury interest rates in the summer of 2003. Following the end of the Federal Reserve expansionary cycle in June 2003, mortgage rates failed to rise according to their historical relationship with Treasury yields, leading to significantly and persistently easier mortgage credit conditions. We uncover this phenomenon by analyzing a large dataset with millions of loan-level observations, which allows us to control for the impact of varying loan, borrower and geographic characteristics. These detailed data also reveal that ...
Economic predictions with big data: the illusion of sparsity
We compare sparse and dense representations of predictive models in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and finance. To deal with a large number of possible predictors, we specify a prior that allows for both variable selection and shrinkage. The posterior distribution does not typically concentrate on a single sparse or dense model, but on a wide set of models. A clearer pattern of sparsity can only emerge when models of very low dimension are strongly favored a priori.