The Role of Oil Price Shocks in Causing U.S. Recessions
Although oil price shocks have long been viewed as one of the leading candidates for explaining U.S. recessions, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which oil price shocks explain recessions. We provide a formal analysis of this question with special attention to the possible role of net oil price increases in amplifying the transmission of oil price shocks. We quantify the conditional recessionary effect of oil price shocks in the net oil price increase model for all episodes of net oil price increases since the mid-1970s. Compared to the linear model, the cumulative effect of ...
Container Trade and the U.S. Recovery
Since the 1970s, exports and imports of manufactured goods have been the engine of international trade and much of that trade relies on container shipping. This paper introduces a new monthly index of the volume of container trade to and from North America. Incorporating this index into a structural macroeconomic VAR model facilitates the identification of shocks to domestic U.S. demand as well as foreign demand for U.S. manufactured goods. We show that, unlike in the Great Recession, the primary determinant of the U.S. economic contraction in early 2020 was a sharp drop in domestic demand. ...
What Can Be Learned from the Persistent Electric Power Outages in Texas?
Texas suffered massive power outages during unusually cold temperatures in February. Millions of households lost access not only to power but also to heat and water for days—a situation that was foreseeable and could have been avoided.
Macroeconomic Responses to Uncertainty Shocks: The Perils of Recursive Orderings
A common practice in empirical macroeconomics is to examine alternative recursive orderings of the variables in structural vector autoregressive (VAR) models. When the implied impulse responses look similar, the estimates are considered trustworthy. When they do not, the estimates are used to bound the true response without directly addressing the identification challenge. A leading example of this practice is the literature on the effects of uncertainty shocks on economic activity. We prove by counterexample that this practice is invalid in general, whether the data generating process is a ...
Do oil prices help forecast U.S. real GDP? the role of nonlinearities and asymmetries
There is a long tradition of using oil prices to forecast U.S. real GDP. It has been suggested that the predictive relationship between the price of oil and one-quarter ahead U.S. real GDP is nonlinear in that (1) oil price increases matter only to the extent that they exceed the maximum oil price in recent years and that (2) oil price decreases do not matter at all. We examine, first, whether the evidence of in-sample predictability in support of this view extends to out-of-sample forecasts. Second, we discuss how to extend this forecasting approach to higher horizons. Third, we compare the ...
Nonlinearities in the oil price-output relationship
It is customary to suggest that the asymmetry in the transmission of oil price shocks to real output is well established. Much of the empirical work cited as being in support of asymmetries, however, has not directly tested the hypothesis of an asymmetric transmission of oil price innovations. Moreover, many of the papers quantifying these asymmetric responses are based on censored oil price VAR models which recently have been shown to be invalid. Other studies are based on dynamic correlations in the data that do not shed light on the central question of whether the structural responses of ...
Facts and Fiction in Oil Market Modeling
Baumeister and Hamilton (2019a) assert that every critique of their work on oil markets by Kilian and Zhou (2019a) is without merit. In addition, they make the case that key aspects of the economic and econometric analysis in the widely used oil market model of Kilian and Murphy (2014) and its precursors are incorrect. Their critiques are also directed at other researchers who have worked in this area and, more generally, extend to research using structural VAR models outside of energy economics. The purpose of this paper is to help the reader understand what the real issues are in this ...
Don’t Look to Oil Companies to Lower High Retail Gasoline Prices
While U.S. retail gasoline prices in many regions have remained stubbornly high since March, this situation reflects frictions in the retail gasoline market rather than the supply of oil or the price of oil.
A Quantitative Model of the Oil Tanker Market in the Arabian Gulf
Using a novel dataset, we develop a structural model of the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) market between the Arabian Gulf and the Far East. We study how fluctuations in oil tanker rates, oil exports, shipowner profits, and bunker fuel prices are determined by shocks to the supply and demand for oil tankers, to the utilization of tankers, and to bunker fuel costs. Our analysis shows that time charter rates respond only slightly to fuel cost shocks. In response to higher fuel costs, voyage profits decline, as cost shocks are only partially passed on to round-trip voyage rates. Oil exports ...
The Role of the Prior in Estimating VAR Models with Sign Restrictions
Several recent studies have expressed concern that the Haar prior typically imposed in estimating sign-identified VAR models may be unintentionally informative about the implied prior for the structural impulse responses. This question is indeed important, but we show that the tools that have been used in the literature to illustrate this potential problem are invalid. Specifically, we show that it does not make sense from a Bayesian point of view to characterize the impulse response prior based on the distribution of the impulse responses conditional on the maximum likelihood estimator of ...