A Parsimonious Behavioral SEIR Model of the 2020 COVID Epidemic in the United States and the United Kingdom
I present a behavioral epidemiological model of the evolution of the COVID epidemic in the United States and the United Kingdom over the past 12 months. The model includes the introduction of a new, more contagious variant in the UK in early fall and the US in mid December. The model is behavioral in that activity, and thus transmission, responds endogenously to the daily death rate. I show that with only seasonal variation in the transmission rate and pandemic fatigue modeled as a one-time reduction in the semi-elasticity of the transmission rate to the daily death rate late in the year, the ...
Search with wage posting under sticky prices
Pandemic Recessions and Contact Tracing
We study contact tracing in a new macro-epidemiological model in which infected agents may not show any symptoms of the disease and the availability of tests to detect these asymptomatic spreaders of the virus is limited. Contact tracing is a testing strategy aiming at reconstructing the infection chain of newly symptomatic agents. A coordination failure arises as agents fail to internalize that their individual consumption and labor decisions raise the number of traceable contacts to be tested, threatening the viability of the tracing system. The collapse of the tracing system considerably ...
Tempered Particle Filtering
The accuracy of particle filters for nonlinear state-space models crucially depends on the proposal distribution that mutates time t-1 particle values into time t values. In the widely-used bootstrap particle filter this distribution is generated by the state-transition equation. While straightforward to implement, the practical performance is often poor. We develop a self-tuning particle filter in which the proposal distribution is constructed adaptively through a sequence of Monte Carlo steps. Intuitively, we start from a measurement error distribution with an inflated variance, and then ...
We develop a tractable rational bubbles model with financial frictions, downward nominal wage rigidity, and the zero lower bound. The interaction of financial frictions and nominal rigidities leads to a "bubbly pecuniary externality," where competitive speculation in risky bubbly assets can result in excessive investment booms that precede inefficient busts. The collapse of a large bubble can push the economy into a "secular stagnation" equilibrium, where the zero lower bound and the nominal wage rigidity constraint bind, leading to a persistent and inefficient recession. We evaluate a ...
Regressive Welfare Effects of Housing Bubbles
We analyze the welfare effects of asset bubbles in a model with income inequality and financial friction. We show that a bubble that emerges in the value of housing, a durable asset that is fundamentally useful for everyone, has regressive welfare effects. By raising the housing price, the bubble benefits high-income savers but negatively affects low-income borrowers. The key intuition is that, by creating a bubble in the market price, savers' demand for the housing asset for investment purposes imposes a negative externality on borrowers, who only demand the housing asset for utility ...
Does Unemployment Risk Affect Business Cycle Dynamics?
In this paper, I show that the decline in household consumption during unemployment spells depends on both liquid and illiquid asset positions. I also provide evidence that unemployment spells predict the withdrawal of illiquid assets, particularly when households have few liquid assets. Motivated by these findings, I embed endogenous unemployment risk in a two-asset heterogeneous-agent New Keynesian model. The model is consistent with the above evidence and provides a new propagation mechanism for aggregate shocks due to a flight-to-liquidity that occurs when unemployment risk rises. This ...
Corporate income tax, legal form of organization, and employment
We adopt a dynamic stochastic occupational choice model with heterogeneous agents and evaluate the impact of a potential reduction in the corporate income tax on employment. We show that a reduction in corporate income tax leads to moderate job creation. In the extreme case, the elimination of the corporate income tax would reduce the non-employed population by 5.4 percent. In the model, a reduction in the corporate income tax creates jobs through two channels, one from new entry firms and one from existing firms changing their form of legal organization. In particular, the latter accounts ...
The Rate of Return on Everything, 1870–2015
This paper answers fundamental questions that have preoccupied modern economic thought since the 18th century. What is the aggregate real rate of return in the economy? Is it higher than the growth rate of the economy and, if so, by how much? Is there a tendency for returns to fall in the long-run? Which particular assets have the highest long-run returns? We answer these questions on the basis of a new and comprehensive dataset for all major asset classes, including?for the first time?total returns to the largest, but oft ignored, component of household wealth, housing. The annual data on ...
Social Distancing and Supply Disruptions in a Pandemic
Drastic public health measures such as social distancing or lockdowns can reduce the loss of human life by keeping the number of infected individuals from exceeding the capacity of the health care system but are often criticized because of the social and the economic cost they entail. We question this view by combining an epidemiological model, calibrated to capture the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with a multisector model, designed to capture key characteristics of the U.S. Input Output Tables. Our two-sector model features a core sector that produces intermediate inputs not easily replaced ...