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Jel Classification:E62 

Working Paper
How to Starve the Beast: Fiscal Policy Rules

Countries have widely imposed fiscal rules designed to constrain government spending and ensure fiscal responsibility. This paper studies the effectiveness and welfare implications of revenue, deficit and debt rules when governments are discretionary and profligate. The optimal prescription is a revenue ceiling coupled with a balance budget requirement. For the U.S., the optimal revenue ceiling is about 15% of output, 3 percentage points below the postwar average. Most of the benefits can still be reaped with a milder constraint or escape clauses during adverse times. Imposing a single fiscal ...
Working Papers , Paper 2019-026

Report
Labor Market Policies during an Epidemic

We study the positive and normative implications of labor market policies that counteract the economic fallout from containment measures during an epidemic. We incorporate a standard epidemiological model into an equilibrium search model of the labor market to compare unemployment insurance (UI) expansions and payroll subsidies. In isolation, payroll subsidies that preserve match capital and enable a swift economic recovery are preferred over a cost-equivalent UI expansion. When considered jointly, however, a cost-equivalent optimal mix allocates 20 percent of the budget to payroll subsidies ...
Staff Reports , Paper 943

Working Paper
The Distributional Effects of COVID-19 and Optimal Mitigation Policies

This paper develops a quantitative heterogeneous agent–life cycle model with a fully integrated epidemiological model in which economic decisions affect the spread of COVID-19 and, conversely, the virus affects economic decisions. The calibrated model is used to study the distributional consequences and effectiveness of two mitigation policies: a stay-at-home subsidy that subsidizes reduced hours worked and a stay-at-home order that limits outside hours. First, the stay-at-home subsidy is preferred because it reduces deaths by more and output by less, leading to a larger average welfare ...
Globalization Institute Working Papers , Paper 400

Working Paper
Time-Inconsistent Optimal Quantity of Debt

A key feature of the infinite-horizon heterogeneous-agents incomplete-markets (Inf-HAIM) framework is that the equilibrium interest rate of public debt lies below the time discount rate (regardless of capital). This happens because of a positive liquidity premium on asset returns due to imperfect risk sharing. This fundamental property of standard Inf-HAIM models, however, implies that the Ramsey planner's fiscal policy may be time-inconsistent---because the planner has a dominate incentive to issue plenty of debt such that all households are fully self-insured against idiosyncratic risk ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-037

Working Paper
Fiscal Dominance

Who prevails when fiscal and monetary authorities disagree about the value of public expenditure and how much to discount the future? When the fiscal authority sets debt as its main policy instrument it achieves fiscal dominance, rendering the preferences of the central bank, and thus its independence, irrelevant. When the central bank sets the nominal interest rate it renders fiscal impatience (its debt bias) irrelevant, but still faces its expenditure bias. I find that the expenditure bias is about an order of magnitude more severe than the debt bias and has a major impact on welfare ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-040

Report
Latent Heterogeneity in the Marginal Propensity to Consume

We estimate the distribution of marginal propensities to consume (MPCs) using a novel clustering approach that generalizes the fuzzy C-means algorithm to regression settings. We apply the estimator to the 2008 stimulus payments, exploiting the randomized timing of disbursements, and find considerable heterogeneity in MPCs that varies by consumption good. We document observable determinants of this heterogeneity, without imposing ex ante assumptions on such relationships; MPCs correlate positively with income and the average propensity to consume, but much heterogeneity remains unexplained. ...
Staff Reports , Paper 902

Working Paper
Labor Market Policies During an Epidemic

We study the effects and welfare implications of labor market policies that counteract the economic fall out from containment policies during an epidemic. We incorporate a standard epidemiological model into an equilibrium search model of the labor market to compare unemployment insurance (UI) expansions and payroll subsidies. In isolation, payroll subsidies that preserve match capital and enable a swift economic recovery are preferred over a cost-equivalent UI expansion. When considered jointly, however, a cost-equivalent optimal mix allocates 20 percent of the budget to payroll subsidies ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-024

Working Paper
Seigniorage and Sovereign Default: The Response of Emerging Markets to COVID-19

Monetary policy affects the tradeoffs faced by governments in sovereign default models. In the absence of lump-sum taxation, governments rely on both distortionary taxes and seigniorage to finance expenditure. Furthermore, monetary policy adds a time-consistency problem in debt choice, which may mitigate or exacerbate the incentives to accumulate debt. A deterioration of the terms-of-trade leads to an increase in sovereign-default risk and inflation, and a reduction in growth, which are consistent with the empirical evidence for emerging economies. An unanticipated shock resembling the ...
Working Papers , Paper 2020-017

Working Paper
Public Pension Reforms and Fiscal Foresight: Narrative Evidence and Aggregate Implications

We explore the evolution of pension policy across countries and investigate the macroeconomic effects of pension structural reforms in recent decades, in particular those with implementation delays. We first document chronological changes in pension policy for 10 OECD countries between 1962 and 2017. The new data set shows that pension systems rapidly expanded between the 1960s and 1980s, followed by a wave of retrenchments since the 1990s. Structural pension reforms, which are motivated by long-run fiscal sustainability concerns, often come with significant implementation delays. We find ...
Research Working Paper , Paper RWP 20-06

Journal Article
Schools and Stimulus

This article analyzes the impact of the education funding component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) on public school districts. We use cross-sectional differences in district-level Recovery Act funding to investigate the program's impact on staffing, expenditures, and debt accumulation.
Review , Volume 102 , Issue 2 , Pages 145-171

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