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Bank:Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco 

Working Paper
Inequality and stability
This paper analyzes how political stability depends on economic factors. Fluctuations in groups' economic capacities and in their abilities to engage in rent-seeking or predatory behavior create periodic incentives for those groups to renege on their social obligations. A constitution remains in force so long as no party wishes to defect to the noncooperative situation, and it is reinstituted as soon as each party finds it to its advantage to revert to cooperation. Partnerships of equals are easier to sustain than are arrangements in which one party is more powerful in some economic or noneconomic trait. In this sense, inequality is bad for social welfare. Surprisingly, perhaps, it is the rich, and not the poor segments of society who in our model pose the threat to the stability of the social order. Using cross-country data, we test and confirm the prediction that most constitutional disruptions should be accompanied by increases in income inequality.
AUTHORS: A. S. Pinto Barbosa; Jovanovic, Boyan; Spiegel, Mark M.
DATE: 1996

Working Paper
Loan officers and relationship lending to SMEs
Previous research suggests that loan officers play a critical role in relationship lending by producing soft information about SMEs. For the first time, we empirically confirm this hypothesis We also examine whether the role of loan officers differs from small to large banks as predicted by Stein (2002). While we find that small banks produce more soft information, the capacity and manner in which loan officers produce soft information does not seem to differ between large and small banks. This suggests that, although large banks may produce more soft information, they likely tend to concentrate their resources on transactions lending.
AUTHORS: Hirofumi Uchida; Gregory F. Udell; Yamori, Nobuyoshi
DATE: 2008

Working Paper
Does inflation targeting anchor long-run inflation expectations? evidence from long-term bond yields in the U.S., U.K., and Sweden
We investigate the extent to which inflation targeting helps anchor long-run inflation expectations by comparing the behavior of daily bond yield data in the United Kingdom and Sweden--both inflation targeters--to that in the United States, a non-inflation-targeter. Using the difference between far-ahead forward rates on nominal and inflation-indexed bonds as a measure of compensation for expected inflation and inflation risk at long horizons, we examine how much, if at all, far-ahead forward inflation compensation moves in response to macroeconomic data releases and monetary policy announcements. In the U.S., we find that forward inflation compensation exhibits highly significant responses to economic news. In the U.K., we find a level of sensitivity similar to that in the U.S. prior to the Bank of England gaining independence in 1997, but a striking absence of such sensitivity since the central bank became independent. In Sweden, we find that forward inflation compensation has been insensitive to economic news over the whole period for which we have data. Our findings support the view that a well-known and credible inflation target helps to anchor the private sector's perceptions of the distribution of long-run inflation outcomes.
AUTHORS: Refet S. Gürkaynak; Levin, Andrew T.; Swanson, Eric T.
DATE: 2006

Working Paper
Macroeconomic derivatives: an initial analysis of market-based macro forecasts, uncertainty, and risk
In September 2002, a new market in "Economic Derivatives" was launched allowing traders to take positions on future values of several macroeconomic data releases. We provide an initial analysis of the prices of these options. We find that market-based measures of expectations are similar to survey-based forecasts, although the market-based measures somewhat more accurately predict financial market responses to surprises in data. These markets also provide implied probabilities of the full range of specific outcomes, allowing us to measure uncertainty, assess its driving forces, and compare this measure of uncertainty with the dispersion of point-estimates among individual forecasters (a measure of disagreement). We also assess the accuracy of market-generated probability density forecasts. A consistent theme is that few of the behavioral anomalies present in surveys of professional forecasts survive in equilibrium, and that these markets are remarkably well calibrated. Finally we assess the role of risk, finding little evidence that risk-aversion drives a wedge between market prices and probabilities in this market.
AUTHORS: Refet S. Gürkaynak; Wolfers, Justin
DATE: 2005

Working Paper
Monetary policy in a small open economy with a preference for robustness
We use robust control techniques to study the effects of model uncertainty on monetary policy in an estimated, semi-structural, small-open-economy model of the U.K. Compared to the closed economy, the presence of an exchange rate channel for monetary policy not only produces new trade-offs for monetary policy, but it also introduces an additional source of specification errors. We find that exchange rate shocks are an important contributor to volatility in the model, and that the exchange rate equation is particularly vulnerable to model misspecification, along with the equation for domestic inflation. However, when policy is set with discretion, the cost of insuring against model misspecification appears reasonably small.
AUTHORS: Dennis, Richard; Leitemo, Kai; Ulf Söderström
DATE: 2007

Working Paper
Unemployment dynamics in the OECD
We provide a set of comparable estimates for the rates of inflow to and outflow from unemployment for 14 OECD economies using publicly available data. We then devise a method to decompose changes in unemployment into contributions accounted for by changes in inflow and outflow rates for cases where unemployment deviates from its flow steady state, as it does in many countries. Our decomposition reveals that fluctuations in both inflow and outflow rates contribute substantially to unemployment variation within countries. For Anglo-Saxon economies we find approximately a 20:80 inflow/outflow split to unemployment variation, while for Continental European and Nordic countries, we observe much closer to a 50:50 split. Using the estimated flow rates we compute gross worker flows into and out of unemployment. In all economies we observe that increases in inflows lead increases in unemployment, whereas outflows lag a ramp up in unemployment.
AUTHORS: Michael Elsby; Hobijn, Bart; Aysegül Sahin
DATE: 2009

Working Paper
Which industries are shifting the Beveridge curve?
The negative relationship between the unemployment rate and the job openings rate, known as the Beveridge curve, has been relatively stable in the U.S. over the last decade. Since the summer of 2009, however, the U.S. unemployment rate has hovered between 9.4 and 10.1 percent in spite of firms reporting more job openings. We decompose the recent deviation from the Beveridge curve into different parts using data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). We find that most of the current deviation from the Beveridge curve can be attributed to a shortfall in the vacancy yield, which measures hires per vacancy. This shortfall is broad-based across all industries and is particularly pronounced in construction, transportation, trade, and utilities, and leisure and hospitality. Construction alone accounts for more than a third of the Beveridge curve gap.
AUTHORS: Barnichon, Regis; Michael Elsby; Hobijn, Bart; Aysegül Sahin
DATE: 2010

Working Paper
Convergence and anchoring of yield curves in the Euro area
We study the convergence of European bond markets and the anchoring of inflation expectations in euro area countries using high-frequency bond yield data for France, Germany, Italy and Spain. We find that Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has led to substantial convergence in euro area sovereign bond markets in terms of interest rate levels, unconditional daily fluctuations, and conditional responses to major macroeconomic data announcements. Our findings also suggest a substantial increase in the anchoring of long-term inflation expectations since EMU, particularly for Italy and Spain, which since monetary union have seen their long-term interest rates become much lower, much less volatile, and much better anchored in response to news. Finally, the reaction of far-ahead forward interest rates to macroeconomic announcements has converged substantially across euro area countries and even been eliminated over time, thus underlining not only market integration but also the credibility that financial markets attach to monetary policy in the euro area.
AUTHORS: Ehrmann, Michael; Fratzscher, Marcel; Refet S. Gürkaynak; Swanson, Eric T.
DATE: 2007

Periodic Essay
The rise of Asian sovereign wealth funds
This Asia Focus provides an overview of sovereign wealth funds, evaluates the structure and activities of major funds in Asia, and compares the transparency of Asian funds relative to international best practices.
AUTHORS: Borst, Nicholas
DATE: 2015

Periodic Essay
Burma – paving the road to a modern banking system
This Asia Focus report provides a historical background of Burmese banking crises, analyzes recent and upcoming regulatory reforms, and evaluates hurdles to the development of a modern banking system.
AUTHORS: True, Linda
DATE: 2015



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