What Survey Measures of Inflation Expectations Tell Us
Throughout this period of high inflation, people have wondered when inflation will return to the FOMC's longer-run target of 2 percent. Many models and surveys on inflation expectations exist to help answer this question. In this Economic Brief, we explore the accuracy of these measures of inflation expectations and what information can be obtained from them. While we find these popular sources of inflation are historically inaccurate, they can still gather valuable information, such as people's confidence in the ability of the Fed to get inflation back to target.
Rent seeking bureaucracies and oversight in a simple growth model
Following recent cross-country empirical work, research on public policy and growth has come to examine the impact of inefficient or corrupt bureaucracies. Most of this work has emphasized the interactions of bureaucracies with private markets. By contrast, this paper focuses on the relationship between rent-seeking bureaucracies and their political authority. We show that when oversight is relatively costly, as in many developing economies, the political authority exercises little monitoring of its agencies which reduces the effectiveness of productive government spending. Moreover, when the ...
The macroeconomics of U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?
Because of the recent surge in U.S. personal defaults, Congress is currently debating bankruptcy reform legislation requiring a means test for Chapter 7 filers. This paper explores the effects of such a reform in a model where, in contrast to previous work, bankruptcy options and production are explicitly taken into account. The authors' findings indicate that means testing would not improve upon current bankruptcy provisions and, at best, leaves aggregate filings, output, and welfare unchanged. Put simply, given already existing provisions, the introduction of an efficient means test would ...
We study the urban structure of the city of Detroit. Following several decades of decline, the city's current urban structure is clearly not optimal for its size, with a business district immediately surrounded by a ring of largely vacant neighborhoods. We propose a model with residential externalities that features multiple equilibria at the neighborhood level. In particular, developing a residential area requires the coordination of developers and residents, without which it may remain vacant even if its fundamentals are sound. We embed this mechanism in a quantitative spatial economics ...
Learning about informational rigidities from sectoral data and diffusion indices
This paper uses sectoral data to study survey-based diffusion indices designed to capture changes in the business cycle in real time. The empirical framework recognizes that when answering survey questions regarding their firm's output, respondents potentially rely on infrequently updated information. The analysis then suggests that their answers reflect considerable information lags, on the order of 16 months on average. Moreover, because information stickiness leads respondents to filter out noisy output fluctuations when answering surveys, it helps explain why diffusion indices ...
The macroeconomics of U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice : chapter 7 or chapter 13?
Because of the recent surge in U.S. personal defaults, Congress is currently debating bankruptcy reform legislation requiring a means test for Chapter 7 filers. This paper explores the effects of such a reform in a model where, in contrast to previous work, bankruptcy options and production are explicitly taken into account. Our findings indicate that means testing would not improve upon current bankruptcy provisions and, at best, leaves aggregate filings, output, and welfare unchanged. Put simply,given already existing provisions, the introduction of an efficient means test would not bind. ...
Analyzing firm location decisions : is public intervention justified?
This paper develops a two-region model of firm migration where moving is costly and firms have market power. In this setting, the decentralized equilibrium generates excessive inertia in firm movement relative to the 'first best' solution. Because the decentralized solution is inefficient, the widespread notion that inducing firm movement between regions yield no net social gain does not necessarily hold. That is, firm migration does not amount to a 'zero sum.' Moreover, given the presence of inertia, and contrary to the prevalent view, we show that targeted subsidies that alleviate moving ...
Is stimulative fiscal policy more effective at the zero lower bound?
Several recent research efforts have found that stimulative fiscal policy ? government spending or tax cuts ? can have unusual effects when nominal interest rates are as low as they are today. In particular, some studies have found that the government spending "multiplier" can be much larger at the zero lower bound. Despite these results, some caution is due when interpreting the size of the fiscal multiplier.
Optimal public investment with and without government commitment
We analyze the problem of optimal public investment when government purchases of productive capital assets are financed through income taxes. Virtually all previous work in this literature has prescribed a share of public investment in GDP that is both constant and time consistent. This paper shows that this straightforward prescription derives from specific assumptions relating to preferences and technology. In a more general framework, the optimal policy is neither constant nor time consistent. With full commitment, a policymaker will typically choose a tax rate, or alternatively a share of ...
Monitoring Economic Activity in Real Time Using Diffusion Indices: Evidence from the Fifth District
We provide an analysis that parses out the conditions under which diffusion indices based on disaggregated information are informative about overall economic activity. Building on work by Pinto, Sarte, and Sharp (2015), we highlight the fact that diffusion indices, appropriately scaled, capture contributions of changes in the extensive margin -- e.g. how many sectors are growing or declining rather than by how much individual sectors are growing or declining -- to aggregate growth. In the Fifth Federal Reserve District, for example, this margin captures the bulk of variations in aggregate ...