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

Working Paper
The effect of sales tax holidays on household consumption patterns

Sales tax holidays (STHs) are the temporary suspension of state (and some local) sales taxes on selected retail items for a brief period of time. The policy has gained popularity in recent years, beginning in one state in 1997 and growing to twenty by 2008. Despite the increased frequency with which states use STHs, little research has been conducted to study how households respond to this temporary tax manipulation. Our paper offers the first household-level, microeconometric evaluation on the effect of STHs on household consumption patterns. We find that on STHs, households increase the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2010-06

Working Paper
Who's minding the store? motivating and monitoring hired managers at small, closely held firms: the case of commercial banks

We test whether the gains from hiring an outside manager exceed the principal-agent costs of owner-manager separation at 266 small, closely held U.S. commercial banks. Our results suggest that hiring an outside manager can improve a bank's profit efficiency, but that these gains depend on aligning the hired managers with owners via managerial shareholdings. We find that over-utilizing this control mechanism results in entrenchment, while under-utilization is costly in terms of foregone profits. This study provides a relatively unfettered test of mitigating principal-agent costs, because these ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-99-17

Working Paper
Properties of the vacancy statistic in the discrete circle covering problem

Holst (1985) introduced a discrete spacings model that is related to the Bose-Einstein distribution and obtained the distribution of the number of vacant slots in an associated circle covering problem. We correct his expression for its probability mass function, obtain the first two moments, and describe their limiting properties. We also discuss an application of our results to a study of contagion in banking networks.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2013-05

Working Paper
Why do borrowers make mortgage refinancing mistakes?

Refinancing a mortgage is often one of the biggest and most important financial decisions that people make. Borrowers need to choose the interest rate differential at which to refinance and, when that differential is reached, they need to take the steps to refinance before rates change again. The optimal differential is where the interest saved by refinancing equals the sum of refinancing costs and the option value of refinancing. Using a unique panel data set, we find that approximately 59% of borrowers refinance sub-optimally ? with 52% of the sample making errors of commission (choosing ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2013-02

Working Paper
The optimal mix of taxes on money, consumption and income

We determine the optimal combination of taxes on money, consumption and income in transactions technology models where exogenous government expenditures must be financed with distortionary taxes. We show that the optimal policy does not tax money, regardless of whether the government can use as alternative fiscal instruments an income tax, a consumption tax, or the two taxes jointly. These results are at odds with recent literature. We argue that the reason for this divergence is an inappropriate specification of the transactions technology adopted in the literature.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-02-03

Working Paper
Consumer choice and merchant acceptance of payment media

We study the ability of banks and merchants to influence the consumer's payment instrument choice. Consumers participate in payment card networks to insure themselves against three types of shocks -- income, theft, and their merchant match. Merchants choose which payment instruments to accept based on their production costs and increased profit opportunities. Our key results can be summarized as follows. The structure of prices is determined by the level of the bank's cost to provide payment services including the level of aggregate credit loss, the probability of theft, and the timing of ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-08-11

Working Paper
Distinguishing limited commitment from moral hazard in models of growth with inequality

We use non-parametric, reduced form and structural techniques to distin-guish the micro-economic foundations of two models of growth with increasing inequality using new data from rural and semi-urban households in Thailand. We estimate a limited commitment model that is similar to Evans and Jovanovic (1989) and a moral hazard model that is an extension of Aghion and Bolton (1996). Both models emphasize the role of occupational choice and financial constraints. While the models share many implications, they are distinguished by their assumptions about the nature of financial market ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-03-06

Working Paper
More on Middlemen: Equilibrium Entry and Efficiency in Intermediated Markets

This paper generalizes Rubinstein and Wolinsky?s model of middlemen (intermediation) by incorporating production and search costs, plus more general matching and bargaining. This allows us to study many new issues, including entry, efficiency and dynamics. In the benchmark model, equilibrium exists uniquely, and involves production and intermediation for some parameters but not others. Sometimes intermediation is essential: the market operates iff middlemen are active. If bargaining powers are set correctly equilibrium is efficient; if not there can be too much or too little economic ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2014-18

Working Paper
What determines bilateral trade flows?

This paper undertakes an exhaustive search for robust determinants of international trade, where "robustness" is tested using three popular empirical methods. The paper is frankly atheoretical: our goal is solely to establish statistically robust relationships. Along the way, however, we relate our results to the empirical results obtained by prior researchers and to the received theory of international trade. We find that robust variables include a measure of the scale of factor endowments; fixed exchange rates; the level of development; and current account restrictions. Variables that are ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-05-11

Working Paper
Institutions, the cost of capital, and long-run economic growth: evidence from the 19th century capital market

Late 19th century investors demanded compensation to invest in countries with poor institutional protection of property rights. Using the monthly stock returns of 1,808 firms located in 43 countries but traded in London between 1866 and 1907, we estimate the country-specific cost of capital. We find a negative relationship between institutions that protect property rights and capital costs. Firms located in countries with weak institutions were charged a premium compared to similarly risky firms located in countries with strong institutions, and this penalty appeared to be costly in terms of ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2012-17

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