Working Papers

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2024

January 12, 2024

Automation and Welfare: The Role of Bequests and Education

Description: This paper examines the welfare effects of automation in neoclassical growth models with and without intergenerational transfers. In a standard overlapping generations model without such transfers, improvements in automation technologies that would lower welfare can be mitigated by shifts in labor supply related to demographics or pandemics. With perfect intergenerational transfers based on altruism, automation could raise the well-being of all generations. With imperfect altruism, fiscal transfers (universal basic income) and public policies to expand access to education opportunities can alleviate much of the negative effect of automation.

January 12, 2024

Monetary Policy Pass-Through to Interest Rates: Stylized Facts from 30 European Countries

Description: The extent to which changes in monetary policy rates lead to changes in loan and deposit rates for households and firms, referred to as ‘pass-through’, is an important ingredient of monetary policy transmission to output and prices. Using data on seven different bank interest rates in 30 European countries, different approaches, and the full sample as well as a subsample of euro area countries, we show that a) the pass-through in the post-pandemic hiking cycle has been heterogenous across countries and types of interest rates; b) the pass-through has generally been weaker and slower, except for rates of non-financial corporation loans and time deposits in euro area countries; c) differences in pass-through over time and across countries for most deposit rates are correlated with financial sector concentration, liquidity, and loan opportunities, and d) the effects of pass-through to outstanding mortgage rates on monetary transmission on prices and output are heterogenous across countries.

January 12, 2024

What Caused the Beveridge Curve to Shift Higher in the United States During the Pandemic?

Description: The Beveridge curve shifted substantially higher in the United States following the start of the COVID pandemic. In 2022, vacancies reached record highs across all sectors while unemployment fell to pre-pandemic lows. At the same time, the pandemic has resulted in severe labor shortages, and we estimate that the labor force was approximately 2 million below trend at the start of 2023. We exploit state-level data in the United States to find that lower immigration, higher excess mortality due to COVID, and falling older-worker labor force participation were associated with larger upward shifts in the Beveridge curve. We also find that states that had a larger employment concentration in contact-intensive sectors had larger upward shifts in their Beveridge curve. While the effect of sectoral reallocation and rehiring has been shown in theoretical models to lift the Beveridge curve, we show that worker shortages also result in an upward shift in the Beveridge curve if they increase the marginal product of labor. This result holds in a search and matching model with on-the-job search, but does not hold without on-the-job search.

January 12, 2024

Energy Security and The Green Transition

Description: The current energy crisis has raised important policy questions on how to strengthen short-term energy security while remaining firmly committed to the green transition, a challenge amplified by the recent consensus at COP28 to transition away from fossil fuels. This paper examines the historical determinants of the security of energy supply and analyzes the green transition implications for energy security. Looking back, we find that the diversification of energy trade partners, or the lack thereof, was the main factor that underpinned energy security dynamics within and across countries over the last two decades. Looking ahead, the green transition is expected to have a net positive effect on energy security provided investments are aligned to address new challenges posed by the increased reliance on renewables.

January 12, 2024

Did the U.S. Really Grow Out of Its World War II Debt?

Description: The fall in the U.S. public debt/GDP ratio from 106% in 1946 to 23% in 1974 is often attributed to high rates of economic growth. This paper examines the roles of three other factors: primary budget surpluses, surprise inflation, and pegged interest rates before the Fed-Treasury Accord of 1951. Our central result is a simulation of the path that the debt/GDP ratio would have followed with primary budget balance and without the distortions in real interest rates caused by surprise inflation and the pre-Accord peg. In this counterfactual, debt/GDP declines only to 74% in 1974, not 23% as in actual history. Moreover, the ratio starts rising again in 1980 and in 2022 it is 84%. These findings imply that, over the last 76 years, only a small amount of debt reduction has been achieved through growth rates that exceed undistorted interest rates.

January 12, 2024

Searching for Wage Growth: Policy Responses to the “New Machine Age”

Description: The current wave of technological revolution is changing the way policies work. This paper examines the growth and distributional implications of three policies when “robot'' capital (a broad definition of robots, Artificial Intelligence, computers, big data, digitalization, networks, sensors and servos) is introduced in a neoclassical growth model. 1) cuts to the corporate tax rate; 2) increases in education spending; and 3) increases in infrastructure investment. We find that incorporating “robot'' capital into the model does make a big difference to policy outcomes: the trickle-down effects of corporate tax cuts on unskilled wages are attenuated, and the advantages of investment in infrastructure, and especially in education, are bigger. Based on our calibrations grounded on new empirical estimates, infrastructure investment and corporate tax cuts dominate investment in education in a "traditional" economy. However, in an economy with “robots” the infrastructure investment dominates corporate tax cuts, while investment in education tends to produce the highest welfare gains of all. The specific results, of course, may depend on the exact modeling of the technological change, but our main results remain valid and can provide more accurate welfare rankings.

January 12, 2024

Dissecting the Decline in Average Hours Worked in Europe

Description: Three years after the COVID-19 crisis, employment and total hours worked in Europe fully recovered, but average hours per worker did not. We analyze the decline in average hours worked across European countries and find that (i) it is not cyclical but predominantly structural, extending a long-term trend that predates COVID-19, (ii) it mainly reflects reduced hours within worker groups, not a compositional shift towards lower-hours jobs and workers, (iii) men—particularly those with young children—and youth drive this drop, (iv) declines in actual hours match declines in desired hours. Policy reforms could help involuntary parttimers and women with young children raise their actual hours towards desired levels, but the aggregate impact on average hours would be limited to 0.5 to 1.5 percent. Overall, there is scant evidence of slack at the intensive margin in European labor markets, and the trend fall in average hours worked seems unlikely to reverse.

January 4, 2024

The Return of Industrial Policy in Data

Description: This paper introduces the New Industrial Policy Observatory (NIPO) dataset and documents emergent patterns of policy intervention during 2023 associated with the return of industrial policy. The data show that the recent wave of new industrial policy activity is primarily driven by advanced economies, and that subsidies are the most employed instrument. Trade restrictions on imports and exports are more frequently used by emerging market and developing economies. Strategic competitiveness is the dominant motive governments give for these measures, but other objectives such as climate change, resilience and national security are on the rise. In exploratory regressions, we find that implemented measures are correlated with the past use of measures by other governments in the same sector, pointing to the tit-for-tat nature of industrial policy. Furthermore, domestic political economy factors and macroeconomic conditions correlate with the use of industrial policy measures. We intend for the NIPO to be a publicly available resource to help monitor the evolution and effects of industrial policies.

2023

December 22, 2023

Emigration, Business Dynamics, and Firm Heterogeneity in North Macedonia

Description: High emigration rates are a challenge in the Western Balkans. High emigration rates might lead to inadequate skilled labor and affect firm creation, capital formation, and economic convergence. The 2021 North Macedonia census reveals that more than 12.4% of North Macedonians live abroad. To assess the consequences, we estimate the impact of emigration on the number of firms and capital formation. Business dynamics can affect emigration reversely. To alleviate the endogeneity bias, we use a shift-share instrument with the historical diaspora networks and destination countries’ GDP growth rate as a source of exogenous variations. Our results show that (1) In the short run, a 1 percentage point increase in the emigration rate leads to a 2.91% decrease in the number of firms in the area of origin; (2) The long-run effects of emigration on the number of firms are less negative than the short-run impacts; (3) Emigration mainly reduces the number of micro and small firms; (4) Emigration affects the number of firms and capital formation more in the industrial sector than the other sectors, through the skilled labor shortage channel. This paper contributes to the literature on emigration and provides implications and policy considerations for developing countries, where high emigration rates are prevalent.

December 22, 2023

Flattening the Curve and the Flight of the Rich: Pandemic-Induced Shifts in US and European Housing Markets

Description: The pattern of increasing suburban house prices relative to urban centers initiated during the pandemic continues to hold across the top 30 US metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). In contrast, European countries such as Denmark, France, and the United Kingdom did not experience a similar shift in valuations. We posit and find supporting evidence that these divergent patterns partially due to differences in the characteristics of suburban areas, particularly in terms of household income and property sizes; with European suburbs being relatively poorer and characterized by smaller housing units. We show that, in the US, MSAs with suburban features more akin to those in European cities generally experienced little to no increase in suburban housing prices compared to their urban centers. Finally, our findings indicate that migration patterns of the high-income population might have partially influenced the urban-suburban revaluation in the US.

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