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Jel Classification:E3 

Working Paper
The effects of government spending on real exchange rates: evidence from military spending panel data
Using panel data on military spending for 125 countries, we document new facts about the effects of changes in government purchases on the real exchange rate, consumption, and current accounts in both advanced and developing countries. While an increase in government purchases causes real exchange rates to appreciate and increases consumption significantly in developing countries, it causes real exchange rates to depreciate and decreases consumption in advanced countries. The current account deteriorates in both groups of countries. These findings are not consistent with standard international business-cycle models. We investigate whether the difference between advanced economies and developing countries in the responses of real exchange rates to spending shocks can be explained by alternative hypotheses.
AUTHORS: Sheremirov, Viacheslav; Miyamoto, Wataru; Nguyen, Thuy Lan
DATE: 2016-10-01

Working Paper
Price setting in online markets: does IT click?
Using a unique dataset of daily U.S. and U.K. price listings and the associated number of clicks for precisely defined goods from a major shopping platform, this paper explores how prices are set in online markets, which have a number of special properties such as low search costs, low costs of monitoring competitors' prices, and low costs of nominal price adjustment. High-quality data are not only useful to estimate price rigidity and other properties of price adjustment in online commerce but also allow comparing the behavior of those properties with estimates available from brick-and-mortar stores.
AUTHORS: Sheremirov, Viacheslav; Talavera, Oleksandr; Gorodnichenko, Yuriy
DATE: 2015-01-01

Working Paper
A Theory of Sticky Rents: Search and Bargaining with Incomplete Information
The housing rental market offers a unique laboratory for studying price stickiness. This paper is motivated by two facts: 1. Tenants? rents are remarkably sticky even though regular and expected recontracting would, by itself, suggest substantial rent flexibility. 2. Rent stickiness varies significantly across structure type; for example, detached unit rents are far stickier than large apartment unit rents. We offer the first theoretical explanation of rent stickiness that is consistent with these facts. In this theory, search and bargaining with incomplete information generates stickiness in the absence of menu costs or other commonly used modeling assumptions. Tenants? valuations of their units, and whether they are considering other units, are both private information. At lease end, the behavior of risk-averse landlords differs according to the number of units managed. Multi-unit landlords, aided by the law of large numbers, exploit tenant moving costs. When renegotiating rent contracts, they set rent increases that exceed the inflation rate; while the majority of tenants stay, those who place low value on the unit search elsewhere and leave. Landlords with one unit loathe vacancy and offer tenants the identical contract to pre-empt search; only those who really hate the unit leave.
AUTHORS: Verbrugge, Randal; Gallin, Joshua H.
DATE: 2017-05-05

Working Paper
Determinants of Differential Rent Changes: Mean Reversion versus the Usual Suspects
We study 2001-2004 and 2004-2007 rent growth of 18,000 rental units, ending our study prior to the Great Recession. Which variables correlate with rent growth: Location? Age? Rent level? Occupancy duration? Structure type? The answers deepen understanding of the rental market, help statistical agencies make decisions about sample stratification and substitution, and expose coverage problems. We document significant rent stickiness. Initial relative rent level is the best predictor, though mainly due to mean reversion. "Location" comes in second, though often not statistically significantly: the relative value of location is persistent. Age and occupancy duration are also notable. Our findings are reassuring to statistical agencies.
AUTHORS: Shoemaker, Owen; Johnson, William; Verbrugge, Randal; Poole, Robert; Marsh, Fred; Dorfman, Alan
DATE: 2015-08-05

Working Paper
Nowcasting U.S. Headline and Core Inflation
Forecasting future inflation and nowcasting contemporaneous inflation are difficult. We propose a new and parsimonious model for nowcasting headline and core inflation in the U.S. price index for personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and the consumer price index (CPI). The model relies on relatively few variables and is tested using real-time data. The model?s nowcasting accuracy improves as information accumulates over the course of a month or quarter, and it easily outperforms a variety of statistical benchmarks. In head-to-head comparisons, the model?s nowcasts of CPI infl ation outperform those from the Blue Chip consensus, with especially significant outperformance as the quarter goes on. The model?s nowcasts for CPI and PCE inflation also significantly outperform those from the Survey of Professional Forecasters, with similar nowcasting accuracy for core inflation measures. Across all four inflation measures, the model?s nowcasting accuracy is generally comparable to that of the Federal Reserve?s Greenbook.
AUTHORS: Zaman, Saeed; Knotek, Edward S.
DATE: 2014-05-01

Working Paper
Estimating (Markov-Switching) VAR Models without Gibbs Sampling: A Sequential Monte Carlo Approach
Vector autoregressions with Markov-switching parameters (MS-VARs) offer dramatically better data fit than their constant-parameter predecessors. However, computational complications, as well as negative results about the importance of switching in parameters other than shock variances, have caused MS-VARs to see only sparse usage. For our first contribution, we document the effectiveness of Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) algorithms at estimating MSVAR posteriors. Relative to multi-step, model-specific MCMC routines, SMC has the advantages of being simpler to implement, readily parallelizable, and unconstrained by reliance on convenient relationships between prior and likelihood. For our second contribution, we exploit SMC?s flexibility to demonstrate that the use of priors with superior data fit alters inference about the presence of time variation in macroeconomic dynamics. Using the same data as Sims, Waggoner, and Zha (2008, we provide evidence of recurrent episodes characterized by a flat Phillips Curve.
AUTHORS: Herbst, Edward; Bognanni, Mark
DATE: 2014-11-12

Working Paper
A Class of Time-Varying Parameter Structural VARs for Inference under Exact or Set Identification
This paper develops a new class of structural vector autoregressions (SVARs) with time-varying parameters, which I call a drifting SVAR (DSVAR). The DSVAR is the first structural time-varying parameter model to allow for internally consistent probabilistic inference under exact?or set?identification, nesting the widely used SVAR framework as a special case. I prove that the DSVAR implies a reduced-form representation, from which structural inference can proceed similarly to the widely used two-step approach for SVARs: beginning with estimation of a reduced form and then choosing among observationally equivalent candidate structural parameters via the imposition of identifying restrictions. In a special case, the implied reduced form is a tractable known model for which I provide the first algorithm for Bayesian estimation of all free parameters. I demonstrate the framework in the context of Baumeister and Peersman?s (2013b) work on time variation in the elasticity of oil demand.
AUTHORS: Bognanni, Mark
DATE: 2018-09-11

Working Paper
Redistributive Fiscal Policies and Business Cycles in Emerging Economies
Government expenditures are pro-cyclical in emerging markets and counter-cyclical in developed economies. We show this pattern is driven by differences in social transfers. Transfers are more counter-cyclical and comprise a larger portion of spending in developed economies compared to emerging. In contrast, government expenditures on goods and services are quite similar across the two. In a small open economy model, we find disparate social transfer policies can account for more than a half of the excess volatility of consumption relative to output in emerging economies. We analyze how differences in tax policy and the nature of underlying inequality amplify or mitigate this result.
AUTHORS: Rothert, Jacek; Michaud, Amanda M.
DATE: 2017-05-24

Working Paper
The Effects of Price Endings on Price Rigidity: Evidence from VAT Changes
We document a causal role for price endings in generating micro and macro price rigidity. Based on micro price data underlying the consumer price index in Israel, we document that most stores have a favored price ending?a final digit, usually a zero or nine, used by a majority of prices in that store?and that these favored price endings are utilized extensively. Using changes to the VAT rate as exogenous cost shocks that affect prices regardless of ending, we find that the frequency of price adjustment for nonfavored endings increases by twice as much as the frequency of adjustment for favored endings in months when the VAT rate changes. In the aggregate, sluggish pass-through of VAT rate changes is due to favored endings; changes in the VAT rate are passed through fully and immediately to nonfavored endings.
AUTHORS: Knotek, Edward S.; Sayag, Doron; Snir, Avichai
DATE: 2019-11-12

Working Paper
Risk Management for Sovereign Debt Financing with Sustainability Conditions
We develop a model of debt sustainability analysis with optimal financing decisions in the presence of macroeconomic, financial and fiscal uncertainty. We define a coherent measure of refinancing risk, and trade off the risks of debt stock and flow dynamics, subject to debt sustainability constraints and endogenous risk and term premia. We optimize both static and dynamic financing strategies, compare them with several simple rules and consol financing to demonstrate economically significant effects of optimal financing, and show that the stock-flow tradeoff can be critical for sustainability. We quantify the minimum refinancing risk and the maximum rate of debt reduction that a sovereign can achieve given its economic fundamentals, and extend the model to identify optimal timing for debt flow adjustments that allow the sovereign to go beyond these limits. We put the model to the data on three real-world cases: a representative euro zone crisis country, a low-debt country (Netherlands) and a high-debt country (Italy). These applications illustrate the use of the model in informing diverse policy decisions on sustainable public finance. The model is part of the European Stability Mechanism toolkit to assess debt sustainability and repayment capacity of member states in the context of financial assistance.
AUTHORS: Zenios, Stavros A.; Consiglio, Andrea; Athanasopoulou, Marialena; Moshammer, Edmund; Gavilan, Angel; Erce, Aitor
DATE: 2019-06-01

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