The Stock of External Sovereign Debt: Can We Take the Data at ‘Face Value’?
The stock of sovereign debt is typically measured at face value. Defined as the undiscounted sum of future principal repayments, face values are misleading when debts are issued with different contractual forms or maturities. In this paper, we construct alternative measures of the stock of external sovereign debt for 100 developing countries from 1979 through 2006 that correct for differences in contractual form and maturity. We show that our alternative measures: (1) paint a very different quantitative, and in some cases also qualitative, picture of the stock of developing country external sovereign debt; (2) often invert rankings of indebtedness across countries, which historically defined eligibility for debt forgiveness; (3) indicate that the empirical performance of the benchmark quantitative model of sovereign debt deteriorates by roughly 50% once model-consistent measures of debt are used; (4) show how the spread of aggregation clauses in debt contracts that award creditors voting power in proportion to the contractual face value may introduce inefficiencies into the process of restructuring sovereign debts; and (5) illustrate how countries have manipulated their debt issuance to meet fiscal targets written in terms of face values.
AUTHORS: Dias, Daniel A.; Richmond, Christine; Wright, Mark L. J.
Estimating the output gap in real time
I propose a novel method of estimating the potential level of U.S. GDP in real time. The proposed wage-based measure of economic potential remains virtually unchanged when new data are released. The distance between current and potential output ? the output gap ? satisfies Okun?s law and outperforms many other measures of slack in forecasting inflation. Thus, I provide a robust statistical tool useful for understanding current economic conditions and guiding policymaking.
AUTHORS: Cheremukhin, Anton A.
Forecasting GDP Growth with NIPA Aggregates
Beyond GDP, which is measured using expenditure data, the U.S. national income and product accounts (NIPAs) provide an income-based measure of the economy (gross domestic income, or GDI), a measure that averages GDP and GDI, and various aggregates that include combinations of GDP components. This paper compiles real-time data on a variety of NIPA aggregates and uses these in simple time-series models to construct out-of-sample forecasts for GDP growth. Over short forecast horizons, NIPA aggregates?particularly consumption and GDP less inventories and trade?together with these simple time-series models have historically generated more accurate forecasts than a canonical AR(2) benchmark. This has been especially true during recessions, although we document modest gains during expansions as well.
AUTHORS: Garciga, Christian; Knotek, Edward S.
Introducing the Distributional Financial Accounts of the United States
This paper describes the construction of the Distributional Financial Accounts (DFAs), a new dataset containing quarterly estimates of the distribution of U.S. household wealth since 1989, and provides the first look at the resulting data. The DFAs build on two existing Federal Reserve Board statistical products --- quarterly aggregate measures of household wealth from the Financial Accounts of the United States and triennial wealth distribution measures from the Survey of Consumer Finances --- to incorporate distributional information into a national accounting framework. The DFAs complement other existing sources of data on the wealth distribution by using a more comprehensive measure of household wealth and by providing quarterly data on a timely basis. We encourage policymakers, researchers, and other interested parties to use the DFAs to help understand issues related to the distribution of U.S. household wealth.
AUTHORS: Batty, Michael M.; Bricker, Jesse; Briggs, Joseph S.; Holmquist, Elizabeth Ball; McIntosh, Susan Hume; Moore, Kevin B.; Nielsen, Eric; Reber, Sarah; Shatto, Molly; Sommer, Kamila; Sweeney, Tom; Henriques, Alice M.
Missing Import Price Changes and Low Exchange Rate Pass-Through
A large body of empirical work has found that exchange rate movements have only modest effects on inflation. However, the response of an import price index to exchange rate movements may be underestimated because some import price changes are missed when constructing the index. We investigate downward biases that arise when items experiencing a price change are especially likely to exit or to enter the index. We show that, in theoretical pricing models, entry and exit have different implications for the timing and size of these biases. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) microdata, we derive empirical bounds on the magnitude of these biases and construct alternative price indexes that are less subject to selection effects. Our analysis suggests that the biases induced by selective exits and entries do not materially alter the literature?s view that pass-through to U.S. import prices is low over the short to medium term horizons that are most useful for both forecasting and differentiating amongst economic models.
AUTHORS: Gagnon, Etienne; Vigfusson, Robert J.; Mandel, Benjamin R.
ICT Asset Prices : Marshaling Evidence into New Measures
This paper is a companion to our recent paper, "ICT Prices and ICT Services: What do they tell us about Productivity and Technology?" It provides the sources and methods used to construct national accounts-style price deflators for the major components of ICT investment--communications equipment, computer equipment, and software--that were presented and analyzed in that paper. The ICT equipment measures described herein were also used in Byrne, Fernald, and Reinsdorf (2016). This paper is a companion to our recent paper, "ICT Services and their Prices: What do they tell us about Productivity and Technology?" It provides the sources and methods used to construct national accounts-style price deflators for the major components of ICT investment--communications equipment, computer equipment, and software--that were analyzed and used in that paper. The ICT equipment measures described herein were also used in Byrne, Fernald, and Reinsdorf (2016).
AUTHORS: Byrne, David M.; Corrado, Carol
ICT Services and their Prices: What do they tell us about Productivity and Technology?
This paper reassesses the link between ICT prices, technology, and productivity. To understand how the ICT sector could come to the rescue of a whole economy, we extend a multi-sector model due to Oulton (2012) to include ICT services (e.g., cloud services) and use it to calibrate the steady-state contribution of the ICT sector to growth in aggregate U.S. labor productivity. Because ICT technologies diffuse through the economy increasingly via purchases of cloud and data analytic services that are not fully accounted for in the standard narrative on ICT's contribution to economic growth, the contribution of ICT to growth in output per hour going forward is found to be substantially larger than generally thought--1.4 percentage points per year. One reason why the estimated contribution is so large is that official ICT asset prices are found to substantially understate the productivity of the sector. The model developed in this paper also has implications for the relationship between prices for ICT services and prices for the capital stocks (i.e., ICT assets) used to supply them. In particular, ICT service prices may diverge from asset prices and capture productivity gains from ICT asset management by the sector.
AUTHORS: Corrado, Carol; Byrne, David M.
The Long-Run Effects of Monetary Policy
Is the effect of monetary policy on the productive capacity of the economy long lived? Yes, in fact we find such impacts are significant and last for over a decade based on: (1) merged data from two new international historical databases; (2) identification of exogenous monetary policy using the macroeconomic trilemma; and (3) improved econometric methods. Notably, the capital stock and total factor productivity (TFP) exhibit hysteresis, but labor does not. Money is non-neutral for a much longer period of time than is customarily assumed. A New Keynesian model with endogenous TFP growth can reconcile all these empirical observations.
AUTHORS: Singh, Sanjay R.; Jordà, Òscar; Taylor, Alan M.
The Phillips curve remains central to stabilization policy. Increasing financial linkages, international supply chains, and managed exchange rate policy have given core currencies an outsized influence on the domestic affairs of world economies. We exploit such influence as a source of exogenous variation to examine the effects of the recent financial crisis on the Phillips curve mechanism. Using a difference-in-differences approach, and comparing countries before and after the 2008 financial crisis sorted by whether they endured or escaped the crisis, we are able to assess the evolution of the Phillips curve globally.
AUTHORS: Jordà, Òscar; Nechio, Fernanda
Macrofinancial History and the New Business Cycle Facts
In advanced economies, a century-long near-stable ratio of credit to GDP gave way to rapid financialization and surging leverage in the last forty years. This ?financial hockey stick? coincides with shifts in foundational macroeconomic relationships beyond the widely-noted return of macroeconomic fragility and crisis risk. Leverage is correlated with central business cycle moments, which we can document thanks to a decade-long international and historical data collection effort. More financialized economies exhibit somewhat less real volatility, but also lower growth, more tail risk, as well as tighter real-real and real-financial correlations. International real and financial cycles also cohere more strongly. The new stylized facts that we discover should prove fertile ground for the development of a new generation of macroeconomic models with a prominent role for financial factors.
AUTHORS: Schularick, Moritz; Jordà, Òscar; Taylor, Alan M.