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The Poverty of Macroeconomics --- What the Chemical Revolution Tells Us about Neoclassical Production Function
Quantitative macroeconomics is often portrayed as a science—because of its intensive use of high-powered mathematics—with the possible limitation of being unable to conduct controlled experiments. To qualify as a science, however, theories in that discipline must meet a minimum number of criteria: (i) It has explanatory power to explain phenomena; (ii) it has predictive power to yield quantifiable and falsifiable statements about new phenomenon; and (iii) it has operational power to change the world. A scientific theory consists of axioms and working hypotheses that facilitate the ...
Failing to Provide Public Goods: Why the Afghan Army Did Not Fight
The theory of public goods is mainly about the difficulty in paying for them. Our question here is this: Why might public goods not be provided, even if funding is available? We use the Afghan Army as our case study. We explore this issue using a simple model of a public good that can be provided through collective action and peer pressure, by modeling the self-organization of a group (the Afghan Army) as a mechanism design problem. We consider two kinds of transfer subsidies from an external entity such as the U.S. government. One is a Pigouvian subsidy that simply pays the salaries, ...
From Deviations to Shortfalls: The Effects of the FOMC’s New Employment Objective
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) recently revised its interpretation of its maximum employment mandate. In this paper, we analyze the possible effects of this policy change using a theoretical model with frictional labor markets and nominal rigidities. A monetary policy that stabilizes employment “shortfalls” rather than “deviations” of employment from its maximum level leads to higher inflation and more hiring at all times due to firms’ expectations of more accommodative future policy. Thus, offsetting only shortfalls of employment results in higher inflation, employment, ...
Why Aren’t More People Working in Low- and Moderate-Income Areas?
Although the U.S. labor market has seen strong growth in recent years, labor market conditions have been weaker in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. In particular, residents in LMI communities are much less likely to work than residents in higher-income (non-LMI) communities. As of 2017, 35 percent of residents in LMI communities age 18–64 were not working compared with 24.9 percent in non-LMI communities.In this article, I use a formal text analysis of a unique set of survey comments to examine prominent obstacles to working, and compare the prevalence of these obstacles, or ...
On the Need for a Replication Journal
There is very little replication of research in economics, particularly compared with other sciences. This paper argues that there is a dire need for studies that replicate research, that their scarcity is due to poor or negative rewards for replicators, and that this could be improved with a journal that exclusively publishes replication studies. I then discuss how such a journal could be organized, in particular in the face of some negative rewards some replication studies may elicit.
What's Driving Leveraged Loan Spreads?
Syndicated loan spreads have declined since the financial crisis, reducing the cost of credit for corporate borrowers. However, the combination of aggressive loan pricing and weaker credit protections has concerned market observers. We find that syndicated loan spreads have declined across loan and borrower types since the crisis. We also find the decline has been more pronounced for highly leveraged borrowers and has accelerated since 2016, especially for term loans.