The time-varying price of financial intermediation in the mortgage market
The U.S. mortgage market links homeowners with savers all over the world. In this paper, we ask how much of the flow of money from savers to borrowers goes to the intermediaries that facilitate these transactions. Based on a new methodology and a new administrative data set, we find that the price of intermediation, measured as a fraction of the loan amount at origination, is large?142 basis points on average over the 2008-14 period. At daily frequencies, intermediaries pass on price changes in the secondary market to borrowers in the primary market almost completely. At monthly frequencies, ...
Nonlinear pricing with competition: the market for settling payments
The multiple payments settlement systems available in the United States differ on several dimensions. The Fedwire Funds Service, a utility that operates a U.S. large-value payments-settlement service, offers the fastest speed of settlement. Recognizing that payments differ in the urgency with which they need to be settled, Fedwire offers banks a decreasing block-price schedule. This approach allows Fedwire to price discriminate, charging high fees for urgent payments and low fees for less urgent ones. We analyze banks? demand for Fedwire Funds given this nonlinear scheme, taking into account ...
The impact of network size on bank branch performance
Despite recent innovations that might have reduced banks' reliance on brick-and-mortar branches for distributing retail financial services, the number of U.S. bank branches has continued to increase steadily over time. Further, an increasing percentage of these branches are held by banks with large branch networks. This paper assesses the implications of these developments by examining a series of simple branch performance measures and asking how these measures vary, on average, across institutions with different branch network sizes. The key findings are that banks with 100 to 500 branches ...
Liabilities ceded by life insurers to shadow reinsurers (i.e., affiliated and less regulated off-balance-sheet entities) grew from $11 billion in 2002 to $364 billion in 2012. Life insurers using shadow insurance, which capture half of the market share, ceded 25 cents of every dollar insured to shadow reinsurers in 2012, up from 2 cents in 2002. Our adjustment for shadow insurance reduces risk-based capital by 53 percentage points (or 3 rating notches) and raises default probabilities by a factor of 3.5. We develop a structural model of the life insurance industry and estimate the impact of ...
Informational Rigidities and the Stickiness of Temporary Sales
We use unique price data to study how retailers react to underlying cost changes. Temporary sales account for 95% of price changes in our data. Simple models would, therefore, suggest that temporary sales play a central role in price responses to cost shocks. We find, however, that, in response to a wholesale cost increase, the entire increase in retail prices comes through regular price increases. Sales actually respond temporarily in the opposite direction from regular prices, as though to conceal the price hike. Additional evidence from responses to commodity cost and local unemployment ...
Customer Capital, Markup Cyclicality, and Amplification
This paper studies the importance of firm-level price markup dynamics for business cycle fluctuations. Using state-of-the-art IO techniques to measure the behavior of markups over the business cycle at the firm level, I find that markups are countercyclical with an average elasticity of -1.1 with respect to real GDP. Importantly, I find substantial heterogeneity in markup cyclicality across firms, with small firms having significantly more counter-cyclical markups than large firms. Then, I develop a general equilibrium model by embedding customer capital (due to deep habits as in Ravn, ...
What is the Value of Being a Superhost?
We construct a search model where sellers post prices and produce goods of unknown quality. A match reveals the quality of the seller. Buyers rate sellers based on quality. We show that unrated sellers charge a low price to attract buyers and that highly rated sellers post a high price and sell with a higher probability than unrated sellers. We fi nd that welfare is higher with a ratings system. Using data on Airbnb rentals, we show that Superhosts and hosts with high ratings: 1) charge higher prices, 2) have a higher occupancy rate and 3) higher revenue than average hosts.
The Evolution of Scale Economies in U.S. Banking
Continued consolidation of the U.S. banking industry and a general increase in the size of banks has prompted some policymakers to consider policies that discourage banks from getting larger, including explicit caps on bank size. However, limits on the size of banks could entail economic costs if they prevent banks from achieving economies of scale. This paper presents new estimates of returns to scale for U.S. banks based on nonparametric, local-linear estimation of bank cost, revenue and profit functions. We report estimates for both 2006 and 2015 to compare returns to scale some seven ...
Effects of Credit Supply on Unemployment and Inequality
The Great Recession, which was preceded by the financial crisis, resulted in higher unemployment and inequality. We propose a simple model where firms producing varieties face labor-market frictions and credit constraints. In the model, tighter credit leads to lower output, lower number of vacancies, and higher directed-search unemployment. Where workers are more productive at higher levels of firm output, lower credit supply increases firm capital intensity, raises inequality by increasing the rental of capital relative to the wage, and has an ambiguous effect on welfare. At initial high ...
Effects of Credit Supply on Unemployment and Income Inequality
The Great Recession, which was preceded by the Financial Crisis, resulted in higher unemployment and income inequality. We propose a simple model where firms producing varieties face labor-market frictions and credit constraints. In the model, tighter credit leads to lower output, a lower number of vacancies, and higher directed-search unemployment. If workers are more productive at higher levels of firm output, then a lower credit supply increases firm capital intensity, raises income inequality by increasing the rental of capital relative to the wage, and has an ambiguous effect on welfare. ...