Public Pension Reforms and Fiscal Foresight: Narrative Evidence and Aggregate Implications
We explore the evolution of pension policy across countries and investigate the macroeconomic effects of pension structural reforms in recent decades, in particular those with implementation delays. We first document chronological changes in pension policy for 10 OECD countries between 1962 and 2017. The new data set shows that pension systems rapidly expanded between the 1960s and 1980s, followed by a wave of retrenchments since the 1990s. Structural pension reforms, which are motivated by long-run fiscal sustainability concerns, often come with significant implementation delays. We find ...
The Earned Income Tax Credit and Food Consumption Patterns
The Earned Income Tax Credit is unique among social programs in that benefits are not paid out evenly across the calendar year. We exploit this feature of the EITC to investigate how the credit influences the food expenditure patterns of eligible households. We find that eligible households spend relatively more on healthy items including fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, and dairy products during the months when most refunds are paid.
Consumers Increasingly Expect Additional Government Support amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data released results today from its April 2020 SCE Public Policy Survey, which provides information on consumers' expectations regarding future changes to a wide range of fiscal and social insurance policies and the potential impact of these changes on their households. These data have been collected every four months since October 2015 as part of our Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE). Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, households face significant uncertainty about their personal situations and the general economic environment when forming ...
Finite horizons, political economy, and growth
This paper analyzes the political economy of growth when agents and the government have finite horizons and equilibrium growth is inefficient. A "representative" government (that is, one whose preferences reflect those of its constituents) endowed merely with the ability to tax and transfer can improve somewhat on the market allocation but cannot achieve first-best growth. Efficiency requires in addition the ability to bind future governments. We argue that this ability is related to political stability, and provide empirical evidence that stability and growth-related policies (namely ...
Policy Intervention in Debt Renegotiation: Evidence from the Home Affordable Modification Program
The main rationale for policy intervention in debt renegotiation is to enhance such activity when foreclosures are perceived to be inefficiently high. We examine the ability of the government to influence debt renegotiation by empirically evaluating the effects of the 2009 Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that provided intermediaries (servicers) with sizeable financial incentives to renegotiate mortgages. A difference-in-difference strategy that exploits variation in program eligibility criteria reveals that the program generated an overall increase in the intensity of ...
Pandemics Change Cities: Municipal Spending and Voter Extremism in Germany, 1918-1933
We merge several historical data sets from Germany to show that influenza mortality in 1918-1920 is correlated with societal changes, as measured by municipal spending and city-level extremist voting, in the subsequent decade. First, influenza deaths are associated with lower per capita spending, especially on services consumed by the young. Second, influenza deaths are correlated with the share of votes received by extremist parties in 1932 and 1933. Our election results are robust to controlling for city spending, demographics, war-related population changes, city-level wages, and regional ...
Fiscal stimulus in economic unions: what role for states?
The Great Recession and the subsequent passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act returned fiscal policy, and particularly the importance of state and local governments, to the center stage of macroeconomic policymaking. This paper addresses three questions for the design of intergovernmental macroeconomic fiscal policies. First, are such policies necessary? An analysis of U.S. state fiscal policies show state deficits (in particular from tax cuts) can stimulate state economies in the short run but that there are significant job spillovers to neighboring states. Central government ...
Determinants of Expected Returns at Public Defined-Benefit Pension Plans
Estimated expected returns are important for pension plans, as they influence many plan characteristics including required asset levels, annual contributions, and the extent of plan under- or overfunding. Yet, there seems to be little prior literature on the factors influencing these estimated future returns. In an attempt to fill this gap, this paper presents the results of a panel analysis of data on the determinants of such returns used by US public defined-benefit (DB) pension plans for the period 2001?2011. As expected, we find that real return estimates by DB public pension funds are ...
The Political Economy of Underfunded Municipal Pension
This paper analyzes the determinants of underfunding of local government?s pension funds using a politico-economic overlapping generations model. We show that a binding down payment constraint in the housing market dampens capitalization of future taxes into current land prices. Thus, a local government?s pension funding policy matters for land prices and the utility of young households. Underfunding arises in equilibrium if the pension funding policy is set by the old generation. Young households instead favor a policy of full funding. Empirical results based on cross-city comparisons in the ...
Proxy SVARs: Asymptotic Theory, Bootstrap Inference, and the Effects of Income Tax Changes in the United States
Proxy structural vector autoregressions (SVARs) identify structural shocks in vector autoregressions (VARs) with external proxy variables that are correlated with the structural shocks of interest but uncorrelated with other structural shocks. We provide asymptotic theory for proxy SVARs when the VAR innovations and proxy variables are jointly ?-mixing. We also prove the asymptotic validity of a residual-based moving block bootstrap (MBB) for inference on statistics that depend jointly on estimators for the VAR coefficients and for covariances of the VAR innovations and proxy variables. These ...