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Jel Classification:E32 

Working Paper
Consumer Debt Dynamics: Follow the Increasers
Consumer debt played a central role in creating the U.S. housing bubble, the ensuing housing downturn, and the Great Recession, and it has been blamed as a factor in the weak subsequent recovery as well. This paper uses micro-level data to decompose consumer debt dynamics by separating the actions of consumer debt increasers and decreasers, and then further decomposing movements into percentage and size margins among the increasers and decreasers. We view such a decomposition as informative for macroeconomic models featuring a central role for consumer debt. Using this framework, we show that variations in borrowing activity among the increasers explain four times as much of the total variation in consumer debt as variations among the decreasers who are shedding debt, whether through paydowns or defaults. We also provide micro-level evidence of a sharp decline in the percentage of increasers during the financial crisis that is qualitatively consistent with a binding zero lower bound on nominal interest rates, and evidence of a cycle in the average size of debt changes among the increasers that is related to rising collateral values pre-crisis coupled with additional financial frictions after the crisis.
AUTHORS: Knotek, Edward S.; Braxton, John Carter
DATE: 2014-03-21

Working Paper
Assessing International Commonality in Macroeconomic Uncertainty and Its Effects
This paper uses a large vector autoregression (VAR) to measure international macroeconomic uncertainty and its effects on major economies, using two datasets, one with GDP growth rates for 19 industrialized countries and the other with a larger set of macroeconomic indicators for the U.S., euro area, and U.K. Using basic factor model diagnostics, we first provide evidence of significant commonality in international macroeconomic volatility, with one common factor accounting for strong comovement across economies and variables. We then turn to measuring uncertainty and its effects with a large VAR in which the error volatilities evolve over time according to a factor structure. The volatility of each variable in the system reflects time-varying common (global) components and idiosyncratic components. In this model, global uncertainty is allowed to contemporaneously affect the macroeconomies of the included nations?both the levels and volatilities of the included variables. In this setup, uncertainty and its effects are estimated in a single step within the same model. Our estimates yield new measures of international macroeconomic uncertainty, and indicate that uncertainty shocks (surprise increases) lower GDP and many of its components, adversely affect labor market conditions, lower stock prices, and in some economies lead to an easing of monetary policy.
AUTHORS: Carriero, Andrea; Marcellino, Massimiliano; Clark, Todd E.
DATE: 2018-03-02

Working Paper
Fiscal Stimulus and Consumer Debt
In the aftermath of consumer debt-induced recession, policymakers have questioned whether fiscal stimulus is effective during the periods of high consumer indebtedness. This study empirically investigates this question. Using detailed data on Department of Defense spending for the 2006-2009 period, we document that the open-economy relative fiscal multiplier is higher in geographies with higher consumer indebtedness. The results suggest that fiscal policy can mitigate the adverse effect of consumer (over)leverage on real economic output during a recession. We then exploit detailed microdata to evaluate aggregate demand and aggregate supply-side economic mechanisms potentially underlying this result.
AUTHORS: Demyanyk, Yuliya; Loutskina, Elena; Murphy, Daniel P.
DATE: 2016-08-10

Working Paper
Unemployment Flows, Participation, and the Natural Rate for Turkey
This paper measures flow rates into and out of unemployment for Turkey and uses them to estimate the unemployment rate trend, that is, the unemployment rate to which the economy converges in the long run. In doing so, the paper explores the role of labor force participation in determining the unemployment rate trend. We find an inverse V-shaped pattern for Turkey?s unemployment rate trend over time, currently between 8.5 percent and 9 percent, with an increasing labor market turnover. We also find that allowing an explicit role for participation changes the results substantially, initially reducing the ?natural? rate but getting closer to the baseline over time. Finally, we show that this parsimonious model can be used to forecast unemployment in Turkey with relative ease and accuracy.
AUTHORS: Sengul, Gonul; Tasci, Murat
DATE: 2014-10-27

Working Paper
Endogenous Uncertainty
We show that macroeconomic uncertainty can be considered as exogenous when assessing its effects on the U.S. economy. Instead, financial uncertainty can at least in part arise as an endogenous response to some macroeconomic developments, and overlooking this channel leads to distortions in the estimated effects of financial uncertainty shocks on the economy. We obtain these empirical findings with an econometric model that simultaneously allows for contemporaneous effects of both uncertainty shocks on economic variables and of economic shocks on uncertainty. While the traditional econometric approaches do not allow us to simultaneously identify both of these transmission channels, we achieve identification by exploiting the heteroskedasticity of macroeconomic data. Methodologically, we develop a structural VAR with time-varying volatility in which one of the variables (the uncertainty measure) impacts both the mean and the variance of the other variables. We provide conditional posterior distributions for this model, which is a substantial extension of the popular leverage model of Jacquier, Polson, and Rossi (2004), and provide an MCMC algorithm for estimation.
AUTHORS: Clark, Todd E.; Carriero, Andrea; Marcellino, Massimiliano
DATE: 2018-03-29

Working Paper
Tracking Trend Inflation: Nonseasonally Adjusted Variants of the Median and Trimmed-Mean CPI 
We make five contributions. We demonstrate that extant trimmed-mean and median CPI construction procedures depart from Bureau of Labor Statistics index construction procedures, and that the departures don?t make much of a difference. We produce nonseasonally adjusted variants of the trimmed-mean CPI and median CPI, and demonstrate that these are useful real-time estimates of trend inflation; the NSA median CPI outperforms the median CPI, but both SA and NSA variants of the median and the trimmed-mean CPI easily dominate the so-called ?core? CPI. We introduce superior ex post measures of trend inflation. We demonstrate that a small amount of time-series averaging reaps large rewards. Finally, we discuss using model-averaging as a new direction for simple and robust trend inflation indicators.
AUTHORS: Verbrugge, Randal; Higgins, Amy
DATE: 2015-11-06

Working Paper
Clustered Housing Cycles
Using a panel of U.S. city-level building permits data, we estimate a Markov-switching model of housing cycles that allows for idiosyncratic departures from a national housing cycle. These departures occur for clusters of cities that experience simultaneous housing contractions. We find that cities do not form housing regions in the traditional geographic sense. Instead, similarities in factors affecting the demand for housing (such as average winter temperature and the unemployment rate) appear to be more important determinants of cyclical comovements than similarities in factors affecting the supply for housing (such as housing density and the availability of developable land).
AUTHORS: Hernandez-Murillo, Ruben; Owyang, Michael T.; Rubio, Margarita
DATE: 2015-10-22

Working Paper
A State-Level Analysis of Okun’s Law
Okun?s law is an empirical relationship that measures the correlation between the deviation of the unemployment rate from its natural rate and the deviation of output growth from its potential. In this paper, we estimate Okun?s coefficients for each U.S. state and examine the potential factors that explain the heterogeneity of the estimated Okun relationships. We find that indicators of more flexible labor markets (higher levels of education achievement in the population, lower rate of unionization, and a higher share of nonmanufacturing employment) are important determinants of the differences in Okun?s coefficient across states. Finally, we show that Okun?s relationship is not stable across specifications, which can lead to inaccurate estimates of the potential determinants of Okun?s coefficient.
AUTHORS: Sinclair, Tara M.; Hernandez-Murillo, Ruben; Owyang, Michael T.; Guisinger, Amy Y.
DATE: 2015-10-21

Working Paper
How Cyclical Is Bank Capital?
Using annual data since 1834 and quarterly data since 1959, I find a negative correlation between output and current and lagged values of the bank capital ratio, but a positive correlation with leading values, although except for the period since 1996 the numbers are mostly small and usually insignificant. The most significant correlations tend to reflect movements in bank assets, rather than capital itself, and although the pattern of aggregate correlations matches those of large banks, small banks show a different pattern, with strongly pro-cyclical capital ratios (counter-cyclical leverage).
AUTHORS: Haubrich, Joseph G.
DATE: 2015-03-15

Working Paper
Job Heterogeneity and Aggregate Labor Market Fluctuations
This paper disciplines a model with search over match quality using microeconomic evidence on worker mobility patterns and wage dynamics. In addition to capturing these individual data, the model provides an explanation for aggregate labor market patterns. Poor match quality among first jobs implies large fluctuations in unemployment due to a responsive job destruction margin. Endogenous job destruction generates a burst of layoffs at the onset of a recession and, together with on-the-job search, generates a negative comovement between unemployment and vacancies. A significant job ladder, consistent with the empirical wage dispersion, provides ample scope for the propagation of vacancies and unemployment.
AUTHORS: Krolikowski, Pawel
DATE: 2019-02-01

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