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Bank:Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago  Series:Working Paper Series 

Working Paper
External and Public Debt Crises

The recent debt crises in Europe and the U.S. states feature similar sharp increases in spreads on government debt but also show important differences. In Europe, the crisis occurred at high government indebtedness levels and had spillovers to the private sector. In the United States, state government indebtedness was low, and the crisis had no spillovers to the private sector. We show theoretically and empirically that these different debt experiences result from the interplay between differences in the ability of governments to interfere in private external debt contracts and differences in ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2015-5

Working Paper
Heterogeneity in the Marginal Propensity to Consume: Evidence from Covid-19 Stimulus Payments

We identify 22,340 recipients of Covid-19 Economic Impact Payments in anonymized transaction-level debit card data from Facteus. We use an event study framework to show that in the two weeks following a sudden $1,200 payment from the IRS, consumers immediately increased spending by an average of $604, implying a marginal propensity to consume (MPC) of 50%. Consumer spending fell back to normal levels after two weeks. Stimulus recipients who live paycheck-to-paycheck spend 62% of the stimulus payment within two weeks, while recipients who save much of their monthly income spend only 35% of the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-15

Working Paper
Asymmetric Information, Dynamic Debt Issuance, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads

We propose a tractable model of a firm?s dynamic debt and equity issuance policies in the presence of asymmetric information. Because ?investment-grade? firms can access debt markets, managers who observe a bad private signal can both conceal this information and shield shareholders from infusing capital into the firm by issuing new debt to service existing debt, thus avoiding default. The implication is that the ?asymmetric information channel? can generate jumps to default (from the creditors? perspective) only for those "high-yield" firms that have exhausted their ability to borrow. ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2019-8

Working Paper
Nominal debt as a burden on monetary policy

We study the effects of nominal debt on the optimal sequential choice of monetary and debt policy. When the stock of debt is nominal, the incentive to generate unanticipated inflation increases the cost of the outstanding debt even if no unanticipated inflation episodes occur in equilibrium. Without full commitment, the optimal sequential policy is to deplete the outstanding stock of debt progressively until these extra costs disappear. Nominal debt is therefore a burden on monetary policy, not only because it must be serviced, but also because it creates a time inconsistency problem that ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-04-10

Working Paper
The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative

This project examines the effects of the introduction of new small high schools on student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district. Specifically, we investigate whether students attending small high schools have better graduation/enrollment rates and achievement than similar students who attend regular CPS high schools. We show that students who choose to attend a small school are more disadvantaged on average, including having prior test scores that are about 0.2 standard deviations lower than their elementary school classmates. To address the selection problem, we use an ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2014-20

Working Paper
Search, self-insurance and job-security provisions

We construct a general equilibrium model to evaluate the quantitative effects of severance payments in the presence of contracting and reallocational frictions. Key elements of the model are: 1) establishment level dynamics, 2) imperfect insurance markets, and 3) variable search decisions. Contrary to previous studies that analyzed severance payments in frictionless environments, we find that severance payments reduce unemployment, produce negative insurance effects and improve levels.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-98-2

Working Paper
Are covered bonds a substitute for mortgage-backed securities?

Covered bonds and mortgage-backed securities both allow mortgages to be financed with duration-matched bonds. Given the problems in the MBS market during the financial crisis, some suggest that covered bonds might be a substitute for MBS. We examine the use of covered bonds and MBS in the U.S. and Europe, finding that the two are used for different purposes. Covered bonds are used more to increase liquidity than are MBS. MBS are more often used in ways consistent with exploiting some kinds of agency problems.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2011-14

Working Paper
Wealth inequality: data and models

In the United States wealth is highly concentrated and very unequally distributed: the richest 1% hold one third of the total wealth in the economy. Understanding the determinants of wealth inequality is a challenge for many economic models. We summarize some key facts about the wealth distribution and what economic models have been able to explain so far.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-05-10

Working Paper
Measuring Interest Rate Risk in the Life Insurance Sector: The U.S. and the U.K.

We use a two factor model of life insurer stock returns to measure interest rate risk at U.S. and U.K. insurers. Our estimates show that interest rate risk among U.S. life insurers increased as interest rates decreased to historically low levels in recent years. For life insurers in the U.K., in contrast, interest rate risk remained low during this time, roughly unchanged from what it was in the period prior to the financial crisis when long-term interest rates were in their usual historical ranges. We attribute these differences to the heavier use of products that combine guarantees with ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-2

Working Paper
Constrained Discretion and Central Bank Transparency

We develop and estimate a general equilibrium model to quantitatively assess the effects and welfare implications of central bank transparency. Monetary policy can deviate from active inflation stabilization and agents conduct Bayesian learning about the nature of these deviations. Under constrained discretion, only short deviations occur, agents? uncertainty about the macroeconomy remains contained, and welfare is high. However, if a deviation persists, uncertainty accelerates and welfare declines. Announcing the future policy course raises uncertainty in the short run by revealing that ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-15

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