Bubbles and Leverage: A Simple and Unified Approach
In this paper, we lay out a simple framework that captures much of what the theoretical literature has to say about the role of credit in systemically important asset booms and busts. In addition, we suggest ways in which to incorporate physical investment in the bubble asset as well as monetary policy.
The Piketty Transition
We study the effects on inequality of a "Piketty transition" to zero growth. In a model with a worker-capitalist dichotomy, we show first that the relationship between inequality (measured as a ratio of incomes for the two types) and growth is complicated; zero growth can raise or lower inequality, depending on parameters. Extending our model to include idiosyncratic wage risk we show that growth has quantitatively negligible effects on inequality, and the effect is negative. Finally, following Piketty?s thought experiment, we study how the transition might occur without declining returns; ...
Credit Enforcement Cycles
Empirical evidence suggests that widespread financial distress, by disrupting enforcement of credit contracts, can be self-propagatory and adversely affect the supply of credit. We propose a unifying theory that models the interplay between enforcement, borrower default decisions, and the provision of credit. The central tenets of our framework are the presence of capacity constrained enforcement and borrower heterogeneity. We show that, despite heterogeneity, borrowers tend to coordinate their default choices, leading to fragility and to credit rationing. Our model provides a rationale for ...
Liquidity, Capital Pledgeability and Inflation Redistribution
We study the redistributive effects of expected inflation in a microfounded monetary model with heterogeneous discount factors and collateral constraints. In equilibrium, this heterogeneity leads to borrowing and lending. Model assumptions also guarantee a tractable distribution of money and capital holdings. Several results emerge from our analysis. First, in this framework expected inflation is detrimental to capital accumulation. Second, expected inflation affects borrowing and lending when collateral constraints are present, thus also inducing redistributive effects through credit. Third, ...
A Theory of Housing Demand Shocks
Aggregate housing demand shocks are an important source of house price fluctuations in the standard macroeconomic models, and through the collateral channel, they drive macroeconomic fluctuations. These reduced-form shocks, however, fail to generate a highly volatile price-to-rent ratio that comoves with the house price observed in the data (the ?price-rent puzzle?). We build a tractable heterogeneous-agent model that provides a microeconomic foundation for housing demand shocks. The model predicts that a credit supply shock can generate large comovements between the house price and the ...
The Inflation Target and the Equilibrium Real Rate
Many economists have proposed raising the inflation target to reduce the probability of hitting the zero lower bound (ZLB). It is both a common assumption and a feature of standard models that raising the inflation target does not impact the equilibrium real rate. I demonstrate that in the New Keynesian model, once heterogeneity is introduced, raising the inflation target causes the equilibrium real rate to fall. This implies that raising the inflation target will increase thenominal interest rate by less than expected and thus will be less effective in reducing the probability of hitting the ...
Understanding the Racial and Income Gap in COVID-19: Essential Workers
This is the fourth and final post in this series aimed at understanding the gap in COVID-19 intensity by race and by income. The previous three posts focused on the role of mediating variables—such as uninsurance rates, comorbidities, and health resource in the first post; public transportation, and home crowding in the second; and social distancing, pollution, and age composition in the third—in explaining the racial and income gap in the incidence of COVID-19. In this post, we now investigate the role of employment in essential services in explaining this gap.
Banking across borders with heterogeneous banks
Individual banks differ substantially in their foreign operations. This paper introduces heterogeneous banks into a general equilibrium framework of banking across borders to explain the documented variation. While the model matches existing micro and macro evidence, novel and unexplored predictions of the theory are also strongly supported by the data: The efficiency of the least efficient bank active in a host country increases the greater the impediments to banking across borders and the efficiency of the banking sector in the host country. There is also evidence of a tradeoff between ...
Business cycle fluctuations and the distribution of consumption
This paper sheds new light on the interactions between business cycles and the consumption distribution. We use Consumer Expenditure Survey data and a factor model to characterize the cyclical dynamics of the consumption distribution. We first establish that our approach is able to closely match business cycle fluctuations of consumption from the National Account. We then study the responses of the consumption distribution to total factor productivity shocks and economic policy uncertainty shocks. Importantly, we find that the responses of the right tail of the consumption distribution, ...
Consumption heterogeneity, employment dynamics, and macroeconomic co-movement
Real-business-cycle models necessarily rely on total factor productivity shocks to explain the observed co-movement between consumption, investment, and hours. However, an emerging body of evidence identifies "investment shocks" as important drivers of business cycles. This paper shows that a neoclassical model consistent with observed heterogeneity in labor supply and consumption across employed and nonemployed can generate co-movement in response to fluctuations in the marginal efficiency of investment. Estimation reveals that these shocks explain the bulk of business-cycle variance in ...