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Author:Trachter, Nicholas 

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Paper , Paper 15-15

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Papers , Paper 16-6

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Paper , Paper 14-3

Journal Article
Price Dispersion When Stores Sell Multiple Goods

A notable feature of most markets is that firms are multiproduct, in the sense that they offer for sale more than one single type of good. In this paper, I discuss a recent paper, Kaplan et al. (2016), that explores both empirically and theoretically price dispersion in a multiproduct setting. I discuss, with some detail, their empirical strategy and main empirical findings: a big part of price dispersion for a good in an area comes from stores with the same overall price level pricing individual goods in persistently different ways. I then go over the simple model proposed by the authors ...
Economic Quarterly , Issue 2Q , Pages 127-146

Journal Article
The Dropout Option in a Simple Model of College Education

We present a simple dynamic model of education where students are uncertain about their ability to accumulate human capital in college. While enrolled in college, students are faced with exams that motivate them to update their beliefs. The process of belief-updating implies that some students will optimally choose to drop out. The model that we build is highly tractable and allows for close-form solutions for many objects of interest, so that calibrating the model is a straightforward exercise. We use a calibrated version of the model to gauge the importance of the dropout option in shaping ...
Economic Quarterly , Issue 4Q , Pages 279-295

Working Paper
Big Push in Distorted Economies

Why don't poor countries adopt more productive technologies? Is there a role for policies that coordinate technology adoption? To answer these questions, we develop a quantitative model that features complementarity in firms' technology adoption decisions: The gains from adoption are larger when more firms adopt. When this complementarity is strong, multiple equilibria and hence coordination failures are possible. More importantly, even without equilibrium multiplicity, the model elements responsible for the complementarity can substantially amplify the effect of distortions and policies. ...
Working Paper , Paper 21-07

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Paper , Paper 13-17

Working Paper
Diverging Trends in National and Local Concentration

Using U.S. NETS data, we present evidence that the positive trend observed in national product-market concentration between 1990 and 2014 becomes a negative trend when we focus on measures of local concentration. We document diverging trends for several geographic definitions of local markets. SIC 8 industries with diverging trends are pervasive across sectors. In these industries, top firms have contributed to the amplification of both trends. When a top firm opens a plant, local concentration declines and remains lower for at least seven years. Our findings, therefore, reconcile the ...
Working Paper , Paper 18-15

Working Paper
Large and Small Sellers: A Theory of Equilibrium Price Dispersion with Sequential Search

The paper studies equilibrium pricing in a product market for an indivisible good where buyers search for sellers. Buyers search sequentially for sellers but do not meet every seller with the same probability. Specifically, a fraction of the buyers' meetings lead to one particular large seller, while the remaining meetings lead to one of a continuum of small sellers. In this environment, the small sellers would like to set a price that makes the buyers indifferent between purchasing the good and searching for another seller. The large seller would like to price the small sellers out of the ...
Working Paper , Paper 14-8

Briefing
Buyers' Ability and Willingness to Shop Around: An Explanation for Price Dispersion

For many years, economists have observed substantial and pervasive price dispersion ? wide variations in price for the same product. Some economists have attributed price dispersion to "ignorance in the market," a lack of information among buyers and sellers. More recently, economists at the Richmond Fed and the University of Pennsylvania have developed a model that combines price dispersion theory with intertemporal price discrimination theory to suggest that buyers' differing ability and willingness to shop around might explain price dispersion.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue July

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