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Working Paper
Debt Limits and Credit Bubbles in General Equilibrium
We provide a novel characterization of self-enforcing debt limits in a general equilibrium framework of risk sharing with limited commitment, where defaulters are subject to recourse (a fractional loss of current and future endowments) and exclusion from future credit. We show that debt limits are exactly equal to the present value of recourse plus a credit bubble component. We provide applications to models of sovereign debt, private collateralized debt, and domestic public debt. Implications include an original equivalence mapping among distinct institutional arrangements, thereby clarifying the relationship between different enforcement mechanisms and the connection between asset and credit bubbles.
AUTHORS: Martins-da-Rocha, V. Filipe; Phan, Toan; Vailakis, Yiannis
DATE: 2019-10-11

Working Paper
The political economy of labor subsidies
We explore a political economy model of labor subsidies, extending Meltzer and Richard's median voter model to a dynamic setting. We explore only one source of heterogeneity: initial wealth. As a consequence, given an operative wealth effect, poorer agents work harder, and if the agent with median wealth is poorer than average, a politico-economic equilibrium will feature a subsidy to labor. The dynamic model does not have capital, but it has perfect markets for borrowing and lending. Because tax rates influence interest rates, another channel for redistribution appears, since a decrease in current interest rates favors agents with a negative (below-average) asset position. ; By the same token?and as is typically the case in dynamic politico-economic models with rational agents?the setting features time-inconsistency: the median voter would like to commit to not manipulating interest rates in the future. Under commitment, and under the assumption that preferences admit aggregation, we show that labor subsidies subsist only for one period; after that, subsidies are zero. That is, under commitment, the median voter takes advantage of the voting power once and for all. His wealth moves closer to that of the mean (which is zero), but afterwards he refrains voluntarily from further subsidization. Under lack of commitment, which we analyze formally by looking at the Markov-perfect (time-consistent) equilibrium in a game between successive median voters in the same environment. Instead, subsidies persist?they are constant over time?and are more distortionary than under commitment. Moreover, in the situation without commitment, the median voter does not manage to reduce asset inequality, unlike in the commitment case.
AUTHORS: Azzimonti-Renzo, Marina; Eva de Francisco; Krusell, Per
DATE: 2006

Report
Land of opportunity? Economic mobility in the United States. 2012 annual report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Economics writer Jessie Romero and group vice president Kartik Athreya interpret data that suggest economic mobility has decreased in recent years. Many factors contribute to mobility, but for most people advancement depends on opportunities to obtain human capital ? opportunities that are not as good for children in poor families. Initiatives that focus on early childhood education seem to yield high returns on investment. Their feasibility on a large scale is unknown, but they may have the potential to help the United States achieve a more inclusive prosperity.
AUTHORS: Athreya, Kartik B.; Romero, Jessica Sackett
DATE: 2012

Report
Understanding Urban Decline
Senior policy economist Santiago Pinto and economics writer Tim Sablik discuss the forces that drive urbanization and the factors that determine where firms and households locate within cities. Pinto and Sablik also evaluate a variety of place-based and people-based policy responses to urban decline. Because every city is different, the authors caution that revitalization efforts that worked for one city may not work for another.
AUTHORS: Sablik, Timothy; Pinto, Santiago
DATE: 2016

Report
Systemic risk and the pursuit of efficiency
In this essay, senior economist Kartik Athreya identifies systemic risk with the presence of linkages between market participants, where problems for one directly create problems for others. He argues that such situations can arise from the use of contractual arrangements, especially debt that requires frequent refinancing and liquidation in the event of an inability to repay. The presence of spillover effects can, in turn, lead to outcomes in the wake of shocks that can be improved via policy intervention. Nonetheless, he cautions against taking this as a license to intervene after the fact, and instead suggests that observed contracting arrangements may be important in promoting efficient trade between parties from a "before the shock" perspective.
AUTHORS: Athreya, Kartik B.
DATE: 2009

Report
Falling Short: Why Isn't the U.S. Producing More College graduates?
Why is the United States not producing more college graduates, especially in light of the large and persistent wage gap between workers who graduate from college and those who do not? Senior policy economist Urvi Neelakantan and economics writer Jessie Romero consider several factors that may help answer the question, including inadequate preparation during students' K-12 years. They discuss how K-12 preparation varies with socioeconomic status and how "school-choice" initiatives are intended to give more children access to high-quality schools.
AUTHORS: Romero, Jessica Sackett; Neelakantan, Urvi
DATE: 2017

Report
Living Wills: A Tool for Curbing 'Too Big to Fail'
Economist Arantxa Jarque and senior editor David A. Price explore an innovation of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which requires the largest and most complex financial institutions to create resolution plans to follow if the institutions fall into severe financial distress. In these plans, or "living wills," the institutions must give regulators a roadmap for resolving them via the bankruptcy process ? without disrupting the financial system or resorting to public bailouts. Jarque and Price argue that living wills are a tool that regulators can use to curb the "too big to fail" problem by decreasing the odds that policymakers will feel compelled to rescue large, complex firms for fear that their failure would damage the economy.
AUTHORS: Jarque, Arantxa; Price, David A.
DATE: 2014

Report
A \\"New Normal\\"? The Prospects for Long-Term Growth in the United States
Aaron Steelman, director of publications, and John A. Weinberg, senior vice president and special advisor to the president, examine the claim that the U.S. economy has reached a "new normal" of roughly 2 percent annual growth. This has been the average growth rate since the end of the Great Recession, considerably lower than the post-World War II average. Proponents of the new normal hypothesis argue, among other things, that innovation has slowed and is unlikely to improve. They also believe that demographic trends pose serious problems for U.S. fiscal policy and will exert a drag on the economy. Steelman and Weinberg concede that such issues are significant, but they argue that the prospects for innovations that improve standards of living are stronger than skeptics maintain. They also suggest there are policy areas that, if addressed thoughtfully, likely could yield improvements in economic performance.
AUTHORS: Weinberg, John A.; Steelman, Aaron
DATE: 2015

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