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Jel Classification:H20 

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Pay with Promises or Pay as You Go? Lessons from the Death Spiral of Detroit

As part of compensation, municipal employees typically receive promises of future benefits. Motivated by the recent bankruptcy of Detroit, we develop a model of the equilibrium size of a city and use it to analyze how pay-with-promises schemes interact with city growth. The paper examines the circumstances under which a death spiral arises, where cutbacks of city services and increases in taxes lead to an exodus of residents, compounding financial distress. The model is put to work to analyze issues such as the welfare effects of having cities absorb pension risk and how unions affect the ...
Staff Report , Paper 501

Working Paper
Majority Voting in a Model of Means Testing

We study a model of endogenous means testing where households differ in their income and where the in-kind transfer received by each household declines with income. Majority voting determines the two dimensions of public policy: the size of the welfare program and the means-testing rate. We establish the existence of a sequential majority voting equilibrium and show that the means-testing rate increases with the size of the program but the fraction and the identity of the households receiving the transfers are independent of the program size. Furthermore, the set of subsidy recipients does ...
Working Papers , Paper 2018-14

Working Paper
Majority Voting in a Model of Means Testing

We study a model of endogenous means testing where households differ in their income and where the in-kind transfer received by each household declines with income. Majority voting determines the two dimensions of public policy: the size of the welfare program and the means-testing rate. We establish the existence of a sequential majority voting equilibrium and show that the means-testing rate increases with the size of the program but the fraction and the identity of the households receiving the transfers are independent of the program size. Furthermore, the set of subsidy recipients does ...
Working Papers , Paper 2018-14

Working Paper
Tax Credits and the Debt Position of U.S. Households

This paper investigates the effect of tax credit receipt on the outstanding indebtedness of households. In particular, we use data on zip code level indebtedness to explore whether debt levels and past due amounts change more dramatically during tax refund season in those zip codes where households receive greater Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) refunds. We see a substantial decline in debt past due in high tax credit zip codes during tax refund season indicating that some recipient households use tax refunds to repair their balance sheets. At the same ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-12

Working Paper
Estimating the Tax and Credit-Event Risk Components of Credit Spreads

This paper argues that tax liabilities explain a large fraction of observed short-maturity investment-grade (IG) spreads, but credit-event premia do not. First, we extend Duffie and Lando (2001) by permitting management to issue both debt and equity. Rather than defaulting, managers of IG firms who receive bad private signals conceal this information and service existing debt via new debt issuance. Consistent with empirical observation, this strategy implies that IG firms have virtually zero credit-event risk (at least until they become ?fallen angels"). Second, we provide empirical evidence ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2017-17

Journal Article
Implementation Delays in Pension Retrenchment Reforms

As the global population ages, public spending on pensions has increased dramatically. As a result, policymakers have increasingly focused on pension retrenchment reforms to keep their systems solvent. These reforms usually involve long implementation delays to provide retirees time to adjust their retirement plans. However, long implementation delays also slow the rollback of governments? pension spending, potentially raising long-run fiscal risks. {{p}} {{p}} Huixin Bi, Kevin Hunt, and Sarah Zubairy collect a new data set that tracks implementation delays during pension retrenchment reforms ...
Economic Review , Issue Q II , Pages 53-70

Working Paper
The Time for Austerity: Estimating the Average Treatment Effect of Fiscal Policy

Elevated government debt levels in advanced economies have risen rapidly as sovereigns absorbed private sector losses and cyclical deficits blew up in the Global Financial Crisis and subsequent slump. A rush to fiscal austerity followed but its justifications and impacts have been heavily debated. Research on the effects of austerity on macroeconomic aggregates remains unsettled, mired by the difficulty of identifying multipliers from observational data. This paper reconciles seemingly disparate estimates of multipliers within a unified framework. We do this by first evaluating the validity ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2013-25

Working Paper
Decomposing the Fiscal Multiplier

Unusual circumstances often coincide with unusual fiscal policy actions. Much attention has been paid to estimates of how fiscal policy affects the macroeconomy, but these are typically average treatment effects. In practice, the fiscal “multiplier” at any point in time depends on the monetary policy response. Using the IMF fiscal consolidations dataset for identification and a new decomposition-based approach, we show how to evaluate these monetary-fiscal effects. In the data, the fiscal multiplier varies considerably with monetary policy: it can be zero, or as large as 2 depending on ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2020-12

Working Paper
Measuring Income and Wealth at the Top Using Administrative and Survey Data

Administrative tax data indicate that U.S. top income and wealth shares are substantial and increasing rapidly (Piketty and Saez 2003, Saez and Zucman 2014). A key reason for using administrative data to measure top shares is to overcome the under-representation of families at the very top that plagues most household surveys. However, using tax records alone restricts the unit of analysis for measuring economic resources, limits the concepts of income and wealth being measured, and imposes a rigid correlation between income and wealth. The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) solves the ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-30

Working Paper
Tax Policy Endogeneity: Evidence from R&D Tax Credits

Because policymakers may consider the state of the economy when setting taxes, endogeneity bias can arise in regression models that estimate relationships between economic variables and taxes. This paper quantifies the policy endogeneity bias and estimates the impact of R&D tax incentives on R&D expenditures at the U.S. state level. Identifying tax variation comes from changes in federal corporate tax laws that heterogeneously impact state-level R&D tax incentives due to the simultaneity of state and federal corporate taxes. With this exogenous variation, my preferred estimates indicate a 1 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2014-101

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