The production impact of "cash-for-clunkers": implications for stabilization policy
Stabilization policies frequently aim to boost spending as a means to increase GDP. Spending does not necessarily translate into production, however, especially when inventories are involved. We look at the ?cash-for-clunkers? program that helped finance the purchase of nearly 700,000 vehicles in 2009. An analysis of auto sales and production movements reveals that the program did prompt a large spike in sales. But the program had only a modest and fleeting impact on production, as inventories buffered the movements in sales. These findings suggest caution in judging the efficacy of such ...
Three Scenarios for Interest Rates in the Transition to Normalcy
This article develops time-series models to represent three alternative, potential monetary policy regimes as monetary policy returns to normal. The first regime is a return to the high and volatile inflation rate of the 1970s. The second regime, the one that most Federal Reserve officials and business economists expect, is a return to the credible low inflation policy that characterized the U.S. economy from 1983 to 2007, a period that has come to be known as the Great Moderation. The third regime is one in which policymakers decide to keep policy interest rates at or near zero for the ...
Policy Intervention in Debt Renegotiation: Evidence from the Home Affordable Modification Program
The main rationale for policy intervention in debt renegotiation is to enhance such activity when foreclosures are perceived to be inefficiently high. We examine the ability of the government to influence debt renegotiation by empirically evaluating the effects of the 2009 Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that provided intermediaries (servicers) with sizeable financial incentives to renegotiate mortgages. A difference-in-difference strategy that exploits variation in program eligibility criteria reveals that the program generated an overall increase in the intensity of ...
Financial Vulnerabilities, Macroeconomic Dynamics, and Monetary Policy
We define a measure to be a financial vulnerability if, in a VAR framework that allows for nonlinearities, an impulse to the measure leads to an economic contraction. We evaluate alternative macrofinancial imbalances as vulnerabilities: nonfinancial sector credit, risk appetite of financial market participants, and the leverage and short-term funding of financial firms. We find that nonfinancial credit is a vulnerability: impulses to the credit-to-GDP gap when it is high leads to a recession. Risk appetite leads to an economic expansion in the near-term, but also higher credit and a recession ...
An Early Experiment with "Permazero"
We investigate a monetary regime with persistent, near-zero policy interest rates ("permazero" in the terminology of Bullard 2015). This regime was implemented in 1683 by a prominent early central bank called the Bank of Amsterdam ("Bank"). The Bank fixed its policy rate at one-half percent and held it unchanged for more than a century. Maintaining the rate helped stabilize the value of Bank money. We employ archival data to reconstruct the Bank's activities during a portion of that interval (1736?91) for which data are most readily available. The data suggest that "permazero" worked well for ...
The Household Expenditure Response to a Consumption Tax Rate Increase
This study measures the effect of an increase in Japan's Value Added Tax rate on the timing of household expenditures and consumption, which do not necessarily coincide. The analysis finds that durable and storable expenditures surged in the month prior to the tax rate increase, fell sharply upon implementation, but quickly returned to their previous long-run levels. Non-storable non-durable expenditures increased slightly in the month prior to the tax rate increase, but were otherwise unresponsive. A dynamic structural model of household consumption reveals that the observed expenditure ...
The effectiveness of nonstandard monetary policy measures: evidence from survey data
We assess the perception of professional forecasters regarding the effectiveness of unconventional monetary policy measures announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Using survey data collected at the individual level, we analyze the change in forecasts of Treasury and corporate bond yields around the announcement dates of nonstandard monetary policy measures. We find that professional forecasters expect bond yields to drop significantly for at least one year after the announcement of accommodative policies.
Insolvency after the 2005 bankruptcy reform
Using a comprehensive panel dataset on U.S. households, we study the effects of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), the most substantive reform of personal bankruptcy in the United States since the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. The 2005 legislation introduced a means test based on income to establish eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and increased the administrative requirements to file, leading to a rise in the opportunity cost and, especially, the financial cost of filing for bankruptcy. We study the effects of the reform on bankruptcy, insolvency, ...
Macroelasticities and the U.S. sequestration budget cuts
Microeconomic studies keep reporting that the intertemporal substitution in consumption and the Frisch elasticity of aggregate labor supply have significantly lower values than macroeconomic models find consistent with the dynamics of aggregate variables. The paper argues that in the U.S. such dynamics have been influenced since 2013 by the temporary spending cuts imposed by the so-called budget sequestration. The paper exploits the "policy experiment" features of that measure to gauge macroelasticity values from the evidence associated with it, adopting to that effect a macroeconomic ...
Labor Market Effects of Credit Constraints: Evidence from a Natural Experiment
We exploit the 1998 and 2003 constitutional amendment in Texas?allowing home equity loans and lines of credit for non-housing purposes?as natural experiments to estimate the effect of easier credit access on the labor market. Using state-level as well as county-level data and the synthetic control approach, we find that easier access to housing credit led to a notably lower labor force participation rate between 1998 and 2007. We show that our findings are remarkably robust to improved synthetic control methods based on insights from machine-learning. We explore treatment effect heterogeneity ...