Personal experiences and expectations about aggregate outcomes
We use novel survey data to estimate how personal experiences affect household expectations about aggregate economic outcomes in housing and labor markets. We exploit variation in locally experienced house prices to show that individuals systematically extrapolate from recent locally experienced home prices when asked for their expectations about U.S. house price changes over the next year. In addition, higher volatility of locally experienced house prices causes respondents to report a wider distribution over expected future national house price movements. We find similar results for labor ...
Insurance and Inequality with Persistent Private Information
We study optimal insurance contracts for an agent with Markovian private information. Our main results characterize the implications of constrained efficiency for long-run welfare and inequality. Under minimal technical conditions, there is Absolute Immiseration: in the long run, the agent?s consumption and utility converge to their lower bounds. When types are persistent and utility is unbounded below, there is Relative Immiseration: low-type agents are immiserated at a faster rate than high-type agents, and ?pathwise welfare inequality? grows without bound. These results extend and ...
Risk Aversion at the Country Level
This article estimates the coefficient of relative risk aversion for 75 countries using data on self-reports of personal well-being from the 2006 Gallup World Poll. The analysis suggests that the coefficient of relative risk aversion varies closely around 1, which corresponds to a logarithmic utility function. The authors conclude that their results support the use of the log utility function in numerical simulations of economic models.
Household Credit and Local Economic Uncertainty
This paper investigates the impact of uncertainty on consumer credit outcomes. We develop a local measure of economic uncertainty capturing county-level labor market shocks. We then exploit microeconomic data on mortgages and credit-card balances together with the crosssectional variation provided by our uncertainty measure to show strong borrower-specific heterogeneity in response to changes in uncertainty. Among high risk borrowers or areas with more high risk borrowers, increased uncertainty is associated with housing market illiquidity and a reduction in leverage. For low risk borrowers, ...
Learning About Consumer Uncertainty from Qualitative Surveys: As Uncertain As Ever
We study diffusion indices constructed from qualitative surveys to provide real-time assessments of various aspects of economic activity. In particular, we highlight the role of diffusion indices as estimates of change in a quasi extensive margin, and characterize their distribution, focusing on the uncertainty implied by both sampling and the polarization of participants' responses. Because qualitative tendency surveys generally cover multiple questions around a topic, a key aspect of this uncertainty concerns the coincidence of responses, or the degree to which polarization comoves, across ...
The Complexity of CEO Compensation
I study firm characteristics that justify the use of options or refresher grants in the optimal compensation packages for CEOs in the presence of moral hazard. I model explicitly the determination of stock prices as a function of the output realizations of the firm: Symmetric learning by all parties about the exogenous quality of the firm makes stock prices sensitive to output observations. Compensation packages are designed to transform this sensitivity of prices-to-output into the sensitivity of consumption-to-output that is dictated by the optimal contract. Heterogeneity in the structure ...
The impact of policy uncertainty on U. S. employment: industry evidence
The anemic pace of the recovery of the U. S. economy from the Great Recession has frequently been blamed on heightened uncertainty, much of which concerns the nation?s fiscal policy. Intuition suggests that increased policy uncertainty likely has different impacts on different industries, to the extent that industries differ in their exposure to government policies. This study utilizes industry data to explore whether policy uncertainty indeed affects the dynamics of employment, and particularly its impact on industry employment, during this recovery. This analysis focuses on heterogeneity ...
Uncertainty and Growth Disasters
This paper documents several stylized facts on the real effects of economic uncertainty. First, higher uncertainty is associated with a more dispersed and negatively skewed distribution of output growth. Second, the response of economic growth to an increase in uncertainty is highly nonlinear and asymmetric. Third, higher asset volatility magnifies the negative impact of uncertainty on growth. We develop and estimate an analytically tractable model in which rapid adoption of new technology may raise economic uncertainty which causes measured productivity to decline. The equilibrium growth ...
The Economic Effects of Trade Policy Uncertainty
We study the effects of unexpected changes in trade policy uncertainty (TPU) on the U.S. economy. We construct three measures of TPU based on newspaper coverage, firms' earnings conference calls, and aggregate data on tari rates. We document that increases in TPU reduce investment and activity using both firm-level and aggregate macroeconomic data. We interpret the empirical results through the lens of a two-country general equilibrium model with nominal rigidities and firms' export participation decisions. In the model as in the data, news and increased uncertainty about higher future ...
Measuring Geopolitical Risk
We present a monthly indicator of geopolitical risk based on a tally of newspaper articles covering geopolitical tensions, and examine its evolution and effects since 1985. The geopolitical risk (GPR) index spikes around the Gulf War, after 9/11, during the 2003 Iraq invasion, during the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis, and after the Paris terrorist attacks. High geopolitical risk leads to a decline in real activity, lower stock returns, and movements in capital flows away from emerging economies and towards advanced economies. When we decompose the index into threats and acts components, the ...