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Author:Zhang, Yuzhe 

Journal Article
Unemployment insurance fraud

Concealed Earnings fraud accounts for almost two-thirds of the total overpayments due to all fraud.
Economic Synopses

Briefing
The Differing Effects of the Business Cycle on Small and Large Banks

Small banks and large banks respond differently to business cycle fluctuations. The average net interest margin (NIM) at large banks is negatively correlated with the business cycle, while the average NIM at small banks is positively correlated with the business cycle. In a popular view, small banks are different from large banks because of their close relationships with their borrowers. But a decomposition of the cyclical properties of NIM into the asset and liability sides of the balance sheet suggests that small banks' procyclical NIM is due to their ability to keep funding costs less ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue November

Working Paper
Market-based incentives

We study optimal incentives in a principal-agent problem in which the agent's outside option is determined endogenously in a competitive labor market. In equilibrium, strong performance increases the agent's market value. When this value becomes sufficiently high, the threat of the agent's quitting forces the principal to give the agent a raise. The prospect of obtaining this raise gives the agent an incentive to exert effort, which reduces the need for standard incentives, like bonuses. In fact, whenever the agent's option to quit is close to being "in the money," the market-induced ...
Working Paper , Paper 13-05

Journal Article
Optimal Institutions in Economies with Private Information: Exclusive Contracts, Taxes, and Bankruptcy Law

In economies with private information, it is typically optimal to prohibit or otherwise discourage a subset of trades that individual agents want to enter. Economists often refer to such optimal distortions as wedges. In this article, we use a simple private-information Mirrleesian economy to, first, show examples of these wedges and, second, discuss institutions that may be used to implement them in practice. We discuss and compare three such institutions: exclusive contracts, taxes, and bankruptcy law. Our analysis underscores the multiplicity of possible implementations and, therefore, the ...
Economic Quarterly , Issue 4Q , Pages 353-385

Working Paper
Optimal Incentive Contracts with Job Destruction Risk

We study the implications of job destruction risk for optimal incentives in a long-term contract with moral hazard. We extend the dynamic principal-agent model of Sannikov (2008) by adding an exogenous Poisson shock that makes the match between the firm and the agent permanently unproductive. In modeling job destruction as an exogenous Poisson shock, we follow the Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides search-and-matching literature. The optimal contract shows how job destruction risk is shared between the rm and the agent. Arrival of the job-destruction shock is always bad news for the rm but can be ...
Working Paper , Paper 17-11

Journal Article
Saving for Retirement with Job Loss Risk

This article studies a tractable theoretical model of optimal consumption and saving decisions with endogenous retirement. Particular attention is paid to the impact of an increase in the risk of losing one?s job on the optimal path of consumption and wealth accumulation. Even if one does not actually lose their job, an increase in the risk of a job loss is by itself sufficient to cause lower consumption, higher saving, and, through faster retirement, lower labor supply.
Economic Quarterly , Issue 1Q , Pages 45-81

Working Paper
Optimal Contracts with Reflection

In this paper, we show that whenever the agent's outside option is nonzero, the optimal contract in the continuous-time principal-agent model of Sannikov (2008) is reflective at the lower bound. This means the agent is never terminated or retired after poor performance. Instead, the agent is asked to put zero effort temporarily, which brings his continuation value up. The agent is then asked to resume effort, and the contract continues. We show that a nonzero agent's outside option arises endogenously if the agent is allowed to quit and find a new firm (after a random search time of finite ...
Working Paper , Paper 16-14

Working Paper
Unemployment insurance fraud and optimal monitoring

The most prevalent incentive problem in the U.S. unemployment insurance system is that individuals collect unemployment benefits while being gainfully employed. We show how the unemployment insurance authority can efficiently use a combination of tax/subsidy and monitoring to prevent such fraud. The optimal policy monitors the unemployed at fixed intervals. Employment tax is nonmonotonic: it increases between verifications but decreases after a verification. Unemployment benefits are relatively flat between verifications but decrease sharply after a verification.
Working Papers , Paper 2012-024

Journal Article
Who is concealing earnings and still collecting unemployment benefits?

Concealed earnings represent the largest source of fraud in the U.S. unemployment insurance system. Individuals with relatively low earnings constitute a larger fraction of those committing such fraud. High-earnings individuals, however, account for larger dollar amounts of this fraud.
The Regional Economist , Issue Apr

Working Paper
Optimal auditing and insurance in a dynamic model of tax compliance

We study the optimal auditing of a taxpayer?s income in a dynamic principal- agent model of hidden income. Taxpayers in our model initially have low income and stochastically transit to high income that is an absorbing state. A low-income taxpayer who transits to high income can underreport his true income and evade his taxes. With a constant absolute risk-aversion utility function and a costly and imperfect auditing technology, we show that the optimal auditing mechanism in our model consists of cycles. Within each cycle, a low-income taxpayer is initially unaudited, but if the duration of ...
Working Papers , Paper 2011-020

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