Are Markets Becoming Less Competitive?
National markets in many U.S. industries seem to be increasingly dominated by large companies. Some policymakers have argued that this growing market concentration is a sign of weakening competition, but concentration by itself does not necessarily translate into market power. It may be too soon to reach a decisive conclusion about whether market power, not simply market concentration, is on the rise.
On the distribution of college dropouts: household wealth and uninsurable idiosyncratic risk
This paper presents a dynamic model of the decision to pursue a college education in which students face uncertainty about their future income stream after graduation due to unobserved heterogeneity in their innate scholastic ability. After students matriculate and start taking exams, they reevaluate their expectations about succeeding in college and may find it optimal to drop out and join the workforce without completing an undergraduate degree. The model shows that, in accordance with the data, poorer students are less likely to graduate and are more apt to drop out earlier than are ...
On the Distribution of College Dropouts: Wealth and Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Risk
We present a dynamic model of the decision to pursue a college degree in which students face uncertainty about their future income stream after graduation due to unobserved heterogeneity in their innate scholastic ability. After matriculating and taking some exams, students re-evaluate their expectations about succeeding in college and may decide to drop out and start working. The model shows that, in accordance with the data, poorer students are less likely to graduate and are likely to drop out sooner than wealthier students. Our model generates these results without introducing explicit ...
Equilibrium Price Dispersion Across and Within Stores
We develop a search-theoretic model of the product market that generates price dispersion across and within stores. Buyers differ with respect to their ability to shop around, both at different stores and at different times. The fact that some buyers can shop from only one seller while others can shop from multiple sellers causes price dispersion across stores. The fact that the buyers who can shop from multiple sellers are more likely to be able to shop at inconvenient times induces price dispersion within stores. Specifically, it causes sellers to post different prices for the same good at ...
Inefficiency in a Simple Model of Production and Bilateral Trade
We study a simple model of over-the-counter trade with production. We characterize the equilibrium, and we show that the equilibrium is always inefficient, independent of how the trade surplus is split among trade participants. We argue that this is due to a double hold-up problem that it is at the core of models used to study trade in over-the-counter markets. Finally, we show an example, which we interpret as a limiting case of the general model where the inefficiency vanishes.
Learning and Life Cycle Patterns of Occupational Transitions
Data reveal that individuals experience a high number of occupational switches. Over 40% of high school graduates transition between white and blue collar occupations more than once between the ages of 18 and 28. This paper develops a life cycle model of occupational choices based on workers learning about their type and sorting themselves to the best job match. Documenting life cycle patterns of occupational choices using data from the NLSY79 supports key predictions from the model. Initial characteristics are predictive of future patterns of occupational switching, including the timing and ...
Stepping Stone and Option Value in a Model of Postsecondary Education
A stepping stone arises in risky environments with learning and transferable human capital. An example is the role played by academic two-year colleges in postsecondary education: Students, as they learn about the uncertain educational outcomes, can drop out or transfer up to harder and more rewarding schools, carrying a fraction of the accumulated human capital. A theory of education is built and contrasted empirically to find that i) option value explains a large part of returns to enrollment, ii) enrollment in academic two-year colleges is driven by the option to transfer up, and iii) the ...
State dependent monetary policy
We study the optimal anticipated monetary policy in a flexible-price economy featuring heterogenous agents and incomplete markets, which give rise to a business cycle. In this setting money policy has distributional effects that depend on the state of the cycle. We parsimoniously characterize the dynamics of the economy and study the optimal regulation of the money supply as a function of the state. The optimal policy prescribes monetary expansions in recessions, when insurance is most needed by cash-poor unproductive agents. To minimize the inflationary effect of these expansions, the policy ...
Relative price dispersion: evidence and theory
REVISED: 8/1/18: We use a large data set on retail pricing to document that a sizable portion of the cross-sectional variation in the price at which the same good trades in the same period and in the same market is due to the fact that stores that are, on average, equally expensive set persistently different prices for the same good. We refer to this phenomenon as relative price dispersion. We argue that relative price dispersion stems from sellers? attempts to discriminate between high-valuation buyers who need to make all of their purchases in the same store and low-valuation buyers who are ...
An Information-Based Theory of Financial Intermediation
We advance a theory of how private information and heterogeneous screening ability across market participants shapes trade in decentralized asset markets. We solve for the equilibrium market structure and show that the investors who intermediate trade the most and interact with the largest set of counterparties must have the highest screening ability. That is, the primary intermediaries are those with superior information?screening experts. We provide empirical support for the model?s predictions using transaction-level micro data and information disclosure requirements. Finally, we study the ...