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Jel Classification:N10 

Working Paper
Low Interest Rates, Policy, and the Predictive Content of the Yield Curve

Does the yield curve’s ability to predict future output and recessions differ when interest rates are low, as in the current global environment? In this paper we build on recent econometric work by Shi, Phillips, and Hurn that detects changes in the causal impact of the yield curve and relate that to the level of interest rates. We explore the issue using historical data going back to the 19th century for the United States and more recent data for the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. This paper is similar in spirit to Ramey and Zubairy (2018), who look at the government spending ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-24

Working Paper
Decomposing the Fiscal Multiplier

Unusual circumstances often coincide with unusual fiscal policy actions. Much attention has been paid to estimates of how fiscal policy affects the macroeconomy, but these are typically average treatment effects. In practice, the fiscal “multiplier” at any point in time depends on the monetary policy response. Using the IMF fiscal consolidations dataset for identification and a new decomposition-based approach, we show how to evaluate these monetary-fiscal effects. In the data, the fiscal multiplier varies considerably with monetary policy: it can be zero, or as large as 2 depending on ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2020-12

Working Paper
Longer-Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics

How do major pandemics affect economic activity in the medium to longer term? Is it consistent with what economic theory prescribes? Since these are rare events, historical evidence over many centuries is required. We study rates of return on assets using a dataset stretching back to the 14th century, focusing on 12 major pandemics where more than 100,000 people died. In addition, we include major armed conflicts resulting in a similarly large death toll. Significant macroeconomic after-effects of the pandemics persist for about 40 years, with real rates of return substantially depressed. In ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2020-09

Working Paper
The Welfare Costs of Business Cycles Unveiled: Measuring the Extent of Stabilization Policies

How can we measure the welfare benefit of ongoing stabilization policies? We develop a methodology to calculate the welfare cost of business cycles taking into account that observed consumption is partially smoothed. We propose a decomposition that disentangles consumption in a mix of laissez-faire (absent policies) and riskless components. With a novel identification strategy, we estimate the span of stabilization power. Our results show that the welfare cost of total fluctuations is 11 percent of lifetime consumption, of which 82 percent is smoothed by the status quo policies, yielding a ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-14r

Working Paper
Money, Banking, and Old-School Historical Economics

We review developments in the history of money, banking, and financial intermediation over the last twenty years. We focus on studies of financial development, including the role of regulation and the history of central banking. We also review the literature of banking and financial crises. This area has been largely unaffected by the so-called new econometric methods that seek to prove causality in reduced form settings. We discuss why historical macroeconomics is less amenable to such methods, discuss the underlying concepts of causality, and emphasize that models remain the backbone of our ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-28

Working Paper
Escaping the Middle-Income Trap: A Cross-Country Analysis on the Patterns of Industrial Upgrading

With rapid industrial upgrading along the global value chain of manufactured goods, China has transformed, within one generation, from an impoverished agrarian society to a middle-income nation as well as the largest manufacturing powerhouse in the world. This article identifies the pattern of China?s industrial upgrading and compares it with those of other successfully industrialized economies and the failed ones. We find that (i) China (since 1978) followed essentially the same path of industrial upgrading as that of Japan and the ?Asian Tigers.? These economies succeeded in catching up ...
Working Papers , Paper 2018-1

Working Paper
The asymmetric effects of deflation on consumption spending: evidence from the Great Depression

Does expected deflation lead to a fall in consumption spending? Using data for U.S. grocery store sales and department store sales from 1919 to 1939, this paper shows that expected price changes have asymmetric effects on consumption spending. Department store sales (durable consumption) react negatively to the expectation of falling prices, but grocery store sales (non-durable consumption) do not react to expected price changes.
Globalization Institute Working Papers , Paper 226

Working Paper
Global Financial Cycles and Risk Premiums

This paper studies the synchronization of financial cycles across 17 advanced economies over the past 150 years. The comovement in credit, house prices, and equity prices has reached historical highs in the past three decades. The sharp increase in the comovement of global equity markets is particularly notable. We demonstrate that fluctuations in risk premiums, and not risk-free rates and dividends, account for a large part of the observed equity price synchronization after 1990. We also show that U.S. monetary policy has come to play an important role as a source of fluctuations in risk ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2018-5

Working Paper
The Great Mortgaging: Housing Finance, Crises, and Business Cycles

This paper unveils a new resource for macroeconomic research: a long-run dataset covering disaggregated bank credit for 17 advanced economies since 1870. The new data show that the share of mortgages on banks? balance sheets doubled in the course of the 20th century, driven by a sharp rise of mortgage lending to households. Household debt to asset ratios have risen substantially in many countries. Financial stability risks have been increasingly linked to real estate lending booms which are typically followed by deeper recessions and slower recoveries. Housing finance has come to play a ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2014-23

Working Paper
The Rate of Return on Everything, 1870–2015

This paper answers fundamental questions that have preoccupied modern economic thought since the 18th century. What is the aggregate real rate of return in the economy? Is it higher than the growth rate of the economy and, if so, by how much? Is there a tendency for returns to fall in the long-run? Which particular assets have the highest long-run returns? We answer these questions on the basis of a new and comprehensive dataset for all major asset classes, including?for the first time?total returns to the largest, but oft ignored, component of household wealth, housing. The annual data on ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2017-25

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