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Jel Classification:H3 

Working Paper
Proxy SVARs: Asymptotic Theory, Bootstrap Inference, and the Effects of Income Tax Changes in the United States
Proxy structural vector autoregressions (SVARs) identify structural shocks in vector autoregressions (VARs) with external proxy variables that are correlated with the structural shocks of interest but uncorrelated with other structural shocks. We provide asymptotic theory for proxy SVARs when the VAR innovations and proxy variables are jointly ?-mixing. We also prove the asymptotic validity of a residual-based moving block bootstrap (MBB) for inference on statistics that depend jointly on estimators for the VAR coefficients and for covariances of the VAR innovations and proxy variables. These statistics include structural impulse response functions (IRFs). Conversely, wild bootstraps are invalid, even when innovations and proxy variables are either independent and identically distributed or martingale difference sequences, and simulations show that their coverage rates for IRFs can be badly mis-sized. Using the MBB to re-estimate confidence intervals for the IRFs in Mertens and Ravn (2013), we show that inferences cannot be made about the effects of tax changes on output, labor, or investment.
AUTHORS: Lunsford, Kurt Graden; Jentsch, Carsen
DATE: 2016-07-19

Working Paper
Determinants of Expected Returns at Public Defined-Benefit Pension Plans
Estimated expected returns are important for pension plans, as they influence many plan characteristics including required asset levels, annual contributions, and the extent of plan under- or overfunding. Yet, there seems to be little prior literature on the factors influencing these estimated future returns. In an attempt to fill this gap, this paper presents the results of a panel analysis of data on the determinants of such returns used by US public defined-benefit (DB) pension plans for the period 2001?2011. As expected, we find that real return estimates by DB public pension funds are positively related to fund size, fund age, international asset diversification, state income, and corruption levels. However, more interestingly and importantly, we document that real return estimates by public US DB pension funds are positively related to cultural measures of individualism and masculinity, and negatively related to uncertainty avoidance. These results should be of much interest not only to scholars and pension benefi ciaries, but also to fund managers, other capital market participants, and policymakers.
AUTHORS: Aggarwal, Raj; Goodell, John
DATE: 2015-05-21

Working Paper
The impact of medical and nursing home expenses and social insurance
We consider a life-cycle model with idiosyncratic risk in earnings, out-of-pocket medical and nursing home expenses, and survival. Partial insurance is available through welfare, Medicaid, and social security. Calibrating the model to the United States, we show that (1) savings for old-age, out-of-pocket expenses account for 13.5 percent of aggregate wealth, half of which is due to nursing home expenses; (2) cross-sectional out-of-pocket nursing home risk accounts for 3 percent of aggregate wealth and substantially slows down wealth decumulation at older ages; (3) the impact of medical and nursing home expenses on private savings varies significantly across the lifetime earnings distribution; and (4) all newborns would benefit if social insurance for nursing home stays was made more generous.
AUTHORS: Kopecky, Karen A.; Koreshkova, Tatyana
DATE: 2010

Working Paper
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 renegotiations while adversely affecting the effectiveness of renegotiations performed outside the program. Renegotiations induced by the program resulted in a modest reduction in the rate of foreclosures and reached just one-third of its targeted 3 to 4 million indebted households. This shortfall is in large part due to low renegotiation intensity of a few large servicers that responded at half the rate than others. The muted response of these servicers?which is also observed before the program?does not reflect differences in contract, borrower, or regional characteristics of mortgages across servicers. Instead, it reflects servicer-specific factors that appear to be related to their preexisting organizational capabilities. We exploit regional variation in the share of loans serviced by intermediaries with high pre-program renegotiation activity to assess the economic effects in areas more exposed to the program. Regions where HAMP was used intensively saw a lower rate of house price decline as well as an increase in the pay-down rate on consumer debt. There was no change in non-durable and durable consumption in these regions, suggesting that distressed borrowers who are in the process of debt deleveraging may have a relatively low spending multiplier from moderate debt reduction. We conclude by discussing implications of our findings for debt relief programs in general and for other policy responses to crises that also require intermediaries for implementation.
AUTHORS: Agarwal, Sumit; Amromin, Eugene; Ben-David, Itzhak; Chomsisengphet, Souphala; Piskorski, Tomasz; Seru, Amit
DATE: 2013-11-30

Working Paper
The Earned Income Tax Credit and Food Consumption Patterns
The Earned Income Tax Credit is unique among social programs in that benefits are not paid out evenly across the calendar year. We exploit this feature of the EITC to investigate how the credit influences the food expenditure patterns of eligible households. We find that eligible households spend relatively more on healthy items including fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, and dairy products during the months when most refunds are paid.
AUTHORS: McGranahan, Leslie; Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore
DATE: 2013-11-30

Working Paper
The Political Economy of Underfunded Municipal Pension
This paper analyzes the determinants of underfunding of local government?s pension funds using a politico-economic overlapping generations model. We show that a binding down payment constraint in the housing market dampens capitalization of future taxes into current land prices. Thus, a local government?s pension funding policy matters for land prices and the utility of young households. Underfunding arises in equilibrium if the pension funding policy is set by the old generation. Young households instead favor a policy of full funding. Empirical results based on cross-city comparisons in the magnitude of unfunded liabilities are consistent with the predictions of the model.
AUTHORS: Coen-Pirani, Daniele; Sieg, Holger; Brinkman, Jeffrey
DATE: 2016-05-27

Working Paper
Fiscal stimulus in economic unions: what role for states?
The Great Recession and the subsequent passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act returned fiscal policy, and particularly the importance of state and local governments, to the center stage of macroeconomic policymaking. This paper addresses three questions for the design of intergovernmental macroeconomic fiscal policies. First, are such policies necessary? An analysis of U.S. state fiscal policies show state deficits (in particular from tax cuts) can stimulate state economies in the short run but that there are significant job spillovers to neighboring states. Central government fiscal policies can best internalize these spillovers. Second, what central government fiscal policies are most effective for stimulating income and job growth? A structural vector autoregression analysis for the U.S. aggregate economy from 1960 to 2010 shows that federal tax cuts and transfers to households and firms and intergovernmental transfers to states for lower income assistance are both effective, with one- and two-year multipliers greater than 2.0. Third, how are states, as politically independent agents, motivated to provide increased transfers to lower income households? The answer is matching (price subsidy) assistance for such spending. The intergovernmental aid is spent immediately by the states and supports assistance to those most likely to spend new transfers.
AUTHORS: Carlino, Gerald A.; Inman, Robert P.
DATE: 2015-11-16

Finite horizons, political economy, and growth
This paper analyzes the political economy of growth when agents and the government have finite horizons and equilibrium growth is inefficient. A "representative" government (that is, one whose preferences reflect those of its constituents) endowed merely with the ability to tax and transfer can improve somewhat on the market allocation but cannot achieve first-best growth. Efficiency requires in addition the ability to bind future governments. We argue that this ability is related to political stability, and provide empirical evidence that stability and growth-related policies (namely education) are meaningfully related.
AUTHORS: Kahn, James A.; Lim, Jong-Soo
DATE: 2000-04-01

Working Paper
A Quantitative Evaluation of the Housing Provident Fund Program in China
The Housing Provident Fund (HPF) is the largest public housing program in China. It was created in 1999 to enhance homeownership. This program involves a mandatory saving scheme based on labor income. Past deposits are refunded when the worker purchases a house or retires. Moreover, the program provides mortgages at subsidized rates to facilitate these home purchases. I calibrate a heterogeneous-agent life-cycle model to quantify the effects of these policies. My analysis shows that a housing program with these features is expected to raise the rate of homeownership by 8.7 percentage points and to increase the average home size by 20%. I discuss the economic mechanisms by which these outcomes are achieved and which features of the HPF program are most effective. I also consider several extensions of the model such as requiring employers to contribute to the program and allowing renters to withdraw funds from the HPF.
AUTHORS: Zhou, Xiaoqing
DATE: 2020-03-19


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