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Jel Classification:H6 

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
Debt, inflation and growth robust estimation of long-run effects in dynamic panel data models
This paper investigates the long-run effects of public debt and inflation on economic growth. Our contribution is both theoretical and empirical. On the theoretical side, we develop a cross-sectionally augmented distributed lag (CS-DL) approach to the estimation of long-run effects in dynamic heterogeneous panel data models with cross-sectionally dependent errors. The relative merits of the CS-DL approach and other existing approaches in the literature are discussed and illustrated with small sample evidence obtained by means of Monte Carlo simulations. On the empirical side, using data on a sample of 40 countries over the 1965-2010 period, we find significant negative long-run effects of public debt and inflation on growth. Our results indicate that, if the debt to GDP ratio is raised and this increase turns out to be permanent, then it will have negative effects on economic growth in the long run. But if the increase is temporary then there are no long-run growth effects so long as debt to GDP is brought back to its normal level. We do not find a universally applicable threshold effect in the relationship between public debt and growth. We only find statistically significant threshold effects in the case of countries with rising debt to GDP ratios.
AUTHORS: Chudik, Alexander; Raissi, Mehdi; Mohaddes, Kamiar; Pesaran, M. Hashem
DATE: 2013-11-01

Working Paper
Is there a debt-threshold effect on output growth?
This paper studies the long-run impact of public debt expansion on economic growth and investigates whether the debt-growth relation varies with the level of indebtedness. Our contribution is both theoretical and empirical. On the theoretical side, we develop tests for threshold effects in the context of dynamic heterogeneous panel data models with crosssectionally dependent errors and illustrate, by means of Monte Carlo experiments, that they perform well in small samples. On the empirical side, using data on a sample of 40 countries (grouped into advanced and developing) over the 1965-2010 period, we find no evidence for a universally applicable threshold effect in the relationship between public debt and economic growth, once we account for the impact of global factors and their spillover effects. Regardless of the threshold, however, we find significant negative long-run effects of public debt build-up on output growth. Provided that public debt is on a downward trajectory, a country with a high level of debt can grow just as fast as its peers.
AUTHORS: Pesaran, M. Hashem; Mohaddes, Kamiar; Raissi, Mehdi; Chudik, Alexander
DATE: 2015-07-01

Working Paper
Identifying Global and National Output and Fiscal Policy Shocks Using a GVAR
The paper contributes to the growing Global VAR (GVAR) literature by showing how global and national shocks can be identified within a GVAR framework. The usefulness of the proposed approach is illustrated in an application to the analysis of the interactions between public debt and real output growth in a multi-country setting, and the results are compared to those obtained from standard single-country VAR analysis. We find that on average (across countries) global shocks explain about one-third of the long-horizon forecast error variance of output growth, and about one-fifth of the long-run variance of the rate of change of debt-to-GDP. Evidence on the degree of cross-sectional dependence in these variables and their innovations is exploited to identify the global shocks, and priors are used to identify the national shocks within a Bayesian framework. It is found that posterior median debt elasticity with respect to output is much larger when the rise in output is due to a fiscal policy shock, as compared to when the rise in output is due to a positive technology shock. The cross-country average of the median debt elasticity is 1.58 when the rise in output is due to a fiscal expansion as compared to 0.75 when the rise in output follows from a favorable output shock.
AUTHORS: Pesaran, M. Hashem; Chudik, Alexander; Mohaddes, Kamiar
DATE: 2018-12-26

Conference Paper
Crowding out redefined: the role of reserve accumulation
It is well understood that investment serves as a shock absorber at the time of crisis. The duration of the drag on investment, however, is perplexing. For the nine Asian economies we focus on in this study, average investment/GDP is about 6 percentage points lower during 1998-2012 than its average level in the decade before the crisis; if China and India are excluded, the estimated decline exceeds 9 percent. We document how in the wake of crisis home bias in finance usually increases markedly as public and private sectors look inward when external financing becomes prohibitively costly, altogether impossible, or just plain undesirable from a financial stability perspective. Also, previous studies have not made a connection between the sustained reserve accumulation and the persistent and significantly lower levels of investment in the region. Put differently, reserve accumulation involves an official institution (i.e., the central bank) funneling domestic saving abroad and thus competing with domestic borrowers in the market for loanable funds. We suggest a broader definition of crowding out, driven importantly by increased home bias in finance and by official capital outflows. We present evidence from Asia to support this interpretation.
AUTHORS: Tashiro, Takeshi; Reinhart, Carmen M.
DATE: 2013-11

Working Paper
The Fiscal Theory of the Price Level in a World of Low Interest Rates
A central equation for the fiscal theory of the price level (FTPL) is the government budget constraint (or "government valuation equation"), which equates the real value of government debt to the present value of fiscal surpluses. In the past decade, the governments of most developed economies have paid very low interest rates, and there are many other periods in the past in which this has been the case. In this paper, we revisit the implications of the FTPL in a world where the rate of return on government debt may be below the growth rate of the economy, considering different sources for the low returns: dynamic inefficiency, the liquidity premium of government debt, or its favorable risk profile.
AUTHORS: Bassetto, Marco; Cui, Wei
DATE: 2017-11-16

Working Paper
Optimal Public Debt with Life Cycle Motives
Public debt can be optimal in standard incomplete market models with infinitely lived agents, since the associated capital crowd-out induces a higher interest rate. The higher interest rate encourages individuals to save and, hence, better self-insure against idiosyncratic labor earnings risk. Even though individual savings behavior is a crucial determinant of the optimality of public debt, this class of economies abstracts from empirically observed life cycle savings patterns. Thus, this paper studies how incorporating a life cycle affects optimal public debt. We find that while the infinitely lived agent model's optimal policy is public debt equal to 24% of output, the life cycle model's optimal policy is public savings equal to 61% of output. Although public debt also encourages life cycle agents to hold more savings during their lifetimes, the act of accumulating this savings mitigates the potential welfare benefit. Moreover, public savings improves life cycle agents' welfare by encouraging a flatter allocation of consumption and leisure over their lifetimes. Accordingly, abstracting from the life cycle yields an optimal policy that reduces average welfare by more than 0.6% of expected lifetime consumption. Furthermore, ignoring the life cycle overstates the influence of wealth inequality on optimal policy, since optimal policy is far less sensitive to wealth inequality in the life cycle model than in the infinitely lived agent model. These results demonstrate that studying optimal debt policy in an infinitely lived agent model, which abstracts from the realism of a life cycle in order to render models more computationally tractable, is not without loss of generality.
AUTHORS: Sager, Erick; Peterman, William B.
DATE: 2018-04-20

Report
The side effects of safe asset creation
We present an incomplete markets model to understand the costs and benefits of increasing government debt in a low interest rate environment. Higher risk increases the demand for safe assets, lowering the natural rate of interest below zero, constraining monetary policy at the zero lower bound, and raising unemployment. Higher government debt satiates the demand for safe assets, raising the natural rate and restoring full employment. While this permanently lowers investment, a policymaker committed to low inflation has no alternative. Higher inflation targets, instead, permit both full employment and high investment, but allow for harmful bubbles. Aggressive fiscal policy can prevent bubbles.
AUTHORS: Acharya, Sushant; Dogra, Keshav
DATE: 2018-03-01

Journal Article
Pricing government credit: a new method for determining government credit risk exposure
A growing debate centers on how best to recognize (and price) government interventions in the capital markets. This study applies a method for estimating and valuing the government?s exposure to credit risk through its loan and guarantee programs. The authors use the mortgage portfolios of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as examples of how policymakers could employ this method in pricing the government?s program credit risk. Building on the cost of capital approach, the method captures each program?s possible tail loss over and above its expected value. The authors then use a capital allocation approach to obtain each program?s marginal risk contribution. They show that the current practice of pricing the programs as stand-alone entities overestimates the value of the guarantee. By explicitly capturing the interaction of program losses, their method implies that the government?s overall capital reserve required to insulate taxpayers from losses can be lower than the reserve required when each program is evaluated in isolation. The authors also point out that the extent of this reduction hinges on the strength of (tail) dependence among the expected losses across the programs.
AUTHORS: Ambrose, Brent W.; Yuan, Zhongyi
DATE: 2018

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