An investigation of the gains from commitment in monetary policy
This paper proposes a simple framework for analyzing a continuum of monetary policy rules characterized by differing degrees of credibility, in which commitment and discretion become special cases of what we call quasi commitment. The monetary policy authority is assumed to formulate optimal commitment plans, to be tempted to renege on them, and to succumb to this temptation with a constant exogenous probability known to the private sector. By interpreting this probability as a continuous measure of the (lack of) credibility of the monetary policy authority, we investigate the welfare effect ...
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.
The housing drag on core inflation
Some analysts have raised the question of whether the unprecedented declines in house values, which have been the hallmark of the recent recession, might be artificially dampening core inflation readings. However, a close examination of recent inflation data shows that the weakness in housing costs is representative of a broad pattern of subdued price increases across most consumption goods and services and is not distorting the broad downward trend in core inflation measures.
Evaluating interest rate rules in an estimated DSGE model
The empirical DSGE (dynamic stochastic general equilibrium) literature pays surprisingly little attention to the behavior of the monetary authority. Alternative policy rule specifications abound, but their relative merit is rarely discussed. We contribute to filling this gap by comparing the fit of a large set of interest rate rules (fifty-five in total), which we estimate within a simple New Keynesian model. We find that specifications in which monetary policy responds to inflation and to deviations of output from its efficient level?the one that would prevail in the absence of ...
Menu costs at work: restaurant prices and the introduction of the euro
Restaurant prices in the euro area saw an unprecedented increase after the introduction of the euro. We use an extension of commonly used models of sticky prices and argue that the increase in restaurant prices can be explained by menu costs. The extension we use involves the state-dependent decision of firms about when to adopt the euro. Two main mechanisms drive the result. First, our model concentrates otherwise staggered price increases around the introduction of the euro. Second, before the adoption of the euro, prices do not reflect marginal cost increases expected to occur after the ...
Safety, liquidity, and the natural rate of interest
Why are interest rates so low in the Unites States? We find that they are low primarily because the premium for safety and liquidity has increased since the late 1990s, and to a lesser extent because economic growth has slowed. We reach this conclusion using two complementary perspectives: a flexible time-series model of trends in Treasury and corporate yields, inflation, and long-term survey expectations, and a medium-scale dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model. We discuss the implications of this finding for the natural rate of interest.
CONDI: a cost-of-nominal-distortions index
We construct a price index with weights for the prices of different PCE (personal consumption expenditures) goods chosen to minimize the welfare costs of nominal distortions. In this cost-of-nominal-distortions index (CONDI), the weights are computed in a multi-sector New Keynesian model with time-dependent price setting. The model is calibrated using U.S. data on the dispersion of price stickiness and labor shares across sectors. We find that the CONDI weights depend mostly on price stickiness and are less affected by the dispersion in labor shares. Moreover, CONDI stabilization closely ...
A New Perspective on Low Interest Rates
Interest rates in the United States have remained at historically low levels for many years. This series of posts explores the forces behind the persistence of low rates. We briefly discuss some of the explanations advanced in the academic literature, and propose an alternative hypothesis that centers on the premium associated with safe and liquid assets. Our argument, outlined in a paper we presented at the Brookings Conference on Economic Activity last March, suggests that the increase in this premium since the late 1990s has been a key driver of the decline in the real return on U.S. ...
“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 ...
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 ...