Working Papers

Authors: Robert C. Allen

Jul 2018

Abstract

Jane Humphries and Benjamin Schneider have assembled several large data bases of spinners’ production and wages that they believe disprove my view that high wages led to mechanization in eighteenth century England. This paper examines their data and shows that they have little value in understanding the incentives to mechanize. They collected thousands of observations of the earnings of women, but they do not know how many hours the spinners worked, so the data fail to establish whether their wage per hour (the relevant variable) was high or low. Another large sample of evidence concerned the production per day of spinners, but this information was mainly derived from schools and charity programs whose participants were selected because they were unproductive–so valid inferences about the productivity of women in general cannot be derived from these data. In addition, I present new evidence that substantiates my earlier
estimates of productivity and earnings. The High Wage Hypothesis is unimpaired by the critique of Humphries and Schneider.

JEL Codes: N13, N22, N63, O31

Keywords: industrial revolution, technical change, induced innovation

Reference: 166

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Authors: Vanessa Berenguer Rico, Ines Wilms

Jun 2018

Abstract

Given the effect that outliers can have on regression and specification testing, a vastly used robustification strategy by practitioners consists in: (i) starting the empirical analysis with an outlier detection procedure to deselect atypical data values; then (ii) continuing the analysis with the selected non-outlying observations. The repercussions of such robustifying procedure on the asymptotic properties of subsequent specification tests are, however, underexplored. We study the effects of such a strategy on the White test for heteroscedasticity. Using weighted and marked empirical processes of residuals theory, we show that the White test implemented after the outlier detection and removal is asymptotically chi-square if the underlying errors are symmetric. Under asymmetric errors, the standard chi-square distribution will not always be asymptotically valid. In a simulation study, we show that - depending on the type of data contamination - the standard White test can be either severely undersized or oversized, as well as have trivial power. The statistic applied after deselecting outliers has good finite sample properties under symmetry but can suffer from size distortions under asymmetric errors.

JEL Codes: C01, C10

Keywords: Asymptotic theory, Empirical processes, Heteroscedasticity, Marked and Weighted Empirical processes, Outlier detection, Robust Statistics, White test

Reference: 853

Individual View

Authors: Pawel Adrjan

Jun 2018

Young firms are an engine of job creation, but little is known about the quality of the jobs that they offer. I use a matched employer-employee dataset to study how starting wages and lifecycle earnings of employees differ between young and mature firms. I find that young firms pay a small premium to new hires, but subsequent wage growth is better at mature firms, both within continuing job matches and when individuals change jobs. These results are confirmed by several approaches to addressing sorting and selection of employees into firms of different ages. There is substantial heterogeneity of outcomes: the few young firms that survive and become highly productive pay higher wages to employees from the outset than less successful young firms. Overall, highly-paid and stable jobs at young firms are rare. Policies that aim to stimulate job growth by encouraging the formation of new firms should therefore pay close attention to the types of firms that form as a result.

JEL Codes: J21, J23, J31, L26

Reference: 852

Individual View

Authors: Rahul Nath

May 2018

This paper studies how flexible labour decisions affect asset pricing in a Real Business Cycle model. It uses Jaimovich-Rebelo preferences with internal habits in consumption and distinguishes between two income effect channels (i) the ‘habit income effect’ channel and (ii) the ‘separability income effect’ channel. I find that asset prices are superior when the first channel is strong and the second is weak, this is the case of using GHH preferences with internal habits in consumption.

JEL Codes: E13, E32, E44, G12

Keywords: Asset Pricing, Income Effects, Jaimovich-Rebelo Preferences

Reference: 851

Individual View

Authors: Rahul Nath

May 2018

This paper derives explicitly an equity pricing relationship in a simple New Keynesian model. This relationship is used to study the equity pricing implications of New Keynesian models. I find that New Keynesian models suffer from the same asset pricing shortcomings as more traditional RBC versions and that this can be attributed to the presence of nominal rigidities. I then add capital adjustment costs to study how the interaction of both investment adjustment costs and capital adjustment costs affect the results.

JEL Codes: E12, E22, E44

Keywords: Asset Pricing, New Keynesian, Nominal Rigidities, Investment Adjustment Costs, Capital Adjustment Costs

Reference: 850

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Authors: Douglas Hay

May 2018

Abstract

Many economic historians agree that increased labour inputs contributed to Britain’s primary industrialisation. Voluntary self-exploitation by workers to purchase new consumer goods is one common explanation, but it sits uneasily with evidence of poverty, child labour, popular protest, and criminal punishments explored by social historians. A critical and neglected legal dimension may be the evolution of contracts of employment. The law of master and servant, to use the technical term, shifted markedly between 1750 and 1850 to advantage capital and disadvantage labour. Medieval in origin, it had always been adjudicated in summary hearings before lay magistrates, and provided penal sanctions to employers (imprisonment, wage abatement, and later fines), while giving workers a summary remedy for unpaid wages. The law always enforced obedience to employers’ commands, suppressed strikes, and tried to keep wages low. Between 1750 and 1850 it became more hostile to workers through legislation and judicial redefinition; its enforcement became harsher through expansion of imprisonment, capture of the local bench by industrial employers, and employer abuse of written contracts. More work in manuscript sources is needed to test the argument, but it seems likely that intensification of labour inputs during industrialisation was closely tied to these legal changes.

Keywords: coercion, contract of employment, labour law, industriousness, punishment, work time

Reference: 164

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Authors: Pawel Adrjan, and Brian Bell

Apr 2018

Abstract

How do wages respond to firm-level idiosyncratic cost shocks? We create a unique dataset that links longitudinal data on workers’ compensation to the unexpected costs that UK firms have been forced to pay to plug large deficits in their legacy defined benefit pension plans. We show that firms are able to share the burden of such costs when a significant share of their workers are current or former members of the plan. We also investigate how compensation responds to the closure of defined benefit plans to future benefit accrual. We find that firms are able to use such closures to effectively reduce total compensation of workers who are plan members. These results point to significant frictions in the labour market, which we show are a direct result of the pension arrangement that workers have. Closing schemes has an implicit cost for firms since it reduces the frictions that workers face.

JEL Codes: J31, J32, G32

Keywords: Wages, Pensions, Frictions

Reference: 849

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Authors: Pawel Dziewulski

Apr 2018

Abstract

Critical cost-efficiency index (or CCEI), proposed in Afriat (1972, 1973) and Varian (1990), is the most commonly used measure of revealed preference violations. By representing consumer preference with interval orders, as in Fishburn (1970), we show that this index is equivalent to a particular notion of the just-noticeable difference, i.e., a measure of dissimilarity between alternatives that is sufficient for the agent to tell them apart. Therefore, CCEI can be interpreted as the consumer's cognitive inability to discriminate among options. This characterisation sheds new light on the existing empirical findings.

JEL Codes: C14, C60, C61, D11, D12

Keywords: utility maximisation, generalised axiom of revealed preference, critical cost-efficiency index, interval order, just-noticeable difference

Reference: 848

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Authors: Peter Neary, Giovanni Maggi, Monika Mrázová

Mar 2018

Abstract

Red-tape barriers (RTBs) are an important source of trade costs, but have received little scholarly attention. Here we take a first step toward a theory of RTBs, and show that their implications are very different from those of more traditional trade barriers. Our model highlights that RTBs have important impacts on the extensive margin of trade, and yields rich predictions on how changes in the political-economic environment and product characteristics affect RTBs. Taking into account the endogenous response of RTBs is crucial to understanding the impact of reductions in tariffs and natural trade costs on the extensive and intensive margins of trade, as well as on welfare. Moreover, the availability of RTBs affects in important ways the tariff commitments that are specified in a trade agreement.

JEL Codes: F13, D7, F55

Keywords: International trade policy; Non-Tari Measures; Political economy; Red tape barriers; Trade agreements

Reference: 847

Individual View

Authors: Sara Horrell, Jane Humphries

Mar 2018

 

 

JEL Codes: N330

Keywords: Children’s work and pay; Labour Markets; Demography; Britain, long-run

Reference: 163

Individual View

Authors: Martin Ellison, Andreas Tischbirek

Feb 2018

Abstract

A novel decomposition highlights the scope for information to in uence the term structure of interest rates. Based on the law of total covariance, we show that real term premia in macroeconomic models contain a component that depends on covariances of realised stochastic discount factors and a component that depends on covariances of expectations of those stochastic discount factors. The impact of different informational assumptions can then be identified by looking at their effect on the second, expectational, component. If agents have full information about technology in a simple macro-finance model then the conditional covariance of expectations is low, which contributes to the real term premia implied by the model being at least an order of magnitude too small, a result that is unchanged if some components of technology are unobservable or observed with noise. To generate realistic term premia, we draw on the beauty contest literature by differentiating between private and public information and introducing the possibility of strategic complementarities in the formation of expectations. A quantitative version of the model is found to explain a significant proportion of observed term premia when estimated using data on expectations of productivity growth from the Survey of Professional Forecasters.

JEL Codes: E40, E43, E70, G12

Keywords: Yield Curve, Term Premia, Information Friction, Beauty Contest, Asset Pricing

Reference: 846

Individual View

Authors: Judy Stephenson

Feb 2018

Abstract

This paper provides new information and data on how work and pay actually operated for skilled and semi-skilled men on large London construction projects in the early 1700s, and for the first time, offers detailed firm level evidence on the number of days per year worked by men. Construction workers’ working days were bounded by structural factors of both supply and demand, men worked a far lower number of days than has been assumed until now. This has implications for our understanding of the ‘industrious revolution’, and industrialisation.

JEL Codes: J3, J4, J6, N33, N63

Keywords: England; industrial revolution; industrious revolution; labour input; living standards; wages, building craftsmen

Reference: 162

Individual View

Authors: Martin Ellison, Charles Brendon

Jan 2018

Abstract

This paper proposes and characterises a new normative solution concept for Kydland and Prescott problems, allowing for a commitment device. A policy choice is dominated if either (a) an alternative exists that is superior to it in a time-consistent subdomain of the constraint set, or (b) an alternative exists that Pareto-dominates it over time. Policies may be time-consistently undominated where time-consistent optimality is not possible. We derive necessary and sufficient conditions for this to be true, and show that these are equivalent to a straightforward but significant change to the first-order conditions that apply under Ramsey policy. Time-consistently undominated policies are an order of magnitude simpler than Ramsey choice, whilst retaining normative appeal. This is illustrated across a range of examples.

JEL Codes: D02, E61

Keywords: Time Consistency; Undominated Policy; Ramsey Policy

Reference: 844

Individual View

Authors: Alexander A. J. Wulfers

Jan 2018

Abstract

The Age of Mass Migration came to an end in the interwar period with new American immigration restrictions, but did this end affect some potential migrants more than others? I use previously unanalysed data from passenger lists of ships leaving Bremen, one of the major European ports of emigration, between 1920 and 1933, to identify occupations and skill levels of individual migrants. The main focus of the paper is on the role that policy played in influencing the selection of migrants. I study the American quota laws of 1921, 1924, and 1929, and find that increasingly strict quotas led to an increase in the skill level of migrants as well as a shift from agricultural to manufacturing workers first, and from manufacturing to professional workers later.

JEL Codes: J15, K37, N32, N34

Keywords: immigration policy, skill selection, quotas, United States, Bremen, interwar period

Reference: 161

Individual View

Authors: Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, Alan de Bromhead, Alan Fernihough, Markus Lampe

Jan 2018

Abstract

A recent literature explores the nature and causes of the collapse in international trade during 2008 and 2009. The decline was particularly great for automobiles and industrial supplies; it occurred largely along the intensive margin; quantities fell by more than prices; and prices fell less for differentiated products. Do these stylised facts apply to trade collapses more generally? This paper uses detailed, commodity specific information on UK imports between 1929 and 1933, to see to what extent the trade collapses of the Great Depression and Great Recession resembled each other. It also compares the free trading trade collapse of 1929-31 with the protectionist collapse of 1931-3, to see to what extent protection, and gradual recovery from the Great Depression, mattered for UK trade patterns.

JEL Codes: F14, N74

Keywords: Great Depression; Great Recession; trade; protectionism

Reference: 160

Individual View

Authors: David Ronayne, Greg Taylor

Jan 2018

Abstract

We study strategic interactions in markets where firms sell to consumers both directly and via a competitive channel (CC), such as a price comparison website or marketplace, where multiple sellers’ offers are visible at once. We ask how a CC’s relative size influences market outcomes. A bigger CC means more consumers compare prices, increasing within-channel competition. However, such seemingly procompetitive developments can raise prices and reduce consumer surplus by weakening between-channel competition. We also use the model to study relevant active policy issues including price clauses, integrated ownership structures, and access to consumers’ purchase data.

Revised June 2018

JEL Codes: JEL D43, D83, L11, M3

Reference: 843

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Authors: Ian Crawford, Laura Blow

Jan 2018

Abstract

We investigate necessary and sufficient nonparametric conditions for mental accounting.

Reference: 842

Individual View

Abstract

A new class of marked and weighted empirical processes of residuals is introduced. The framework is general enough to accommodate both stationary and non-stationary regressions as well as a wide class of estimation procedures with applications in misspecification testing and robust statistics. Two applications are presented.

First, we analyze the relationship between truncated moments and linear statistical functionals of residuals. In particular, we show that the asymptotic behaviour of these functionals, expressed as integrals with respect to their empirical distribution functions, can be easily analyzed given the main theorems of the paper. In our context the integrands can be unbounded provided that the underlying distribution meets certain moment conditions. A general first order asymptotic approximation of the statistical functionals is derived and then applied to some cases of interest.

Second, the consequences of using the standard cumulant based normality test for robust regressions are analyzed. We show that the rescaling of the moment based statistic is case dependent, i.e., it depends on the truncation and the estimation method being used. Hence, using the standard least squares normalizing constants in robust regressions will lead to incorrect inferences. However, if appropriate normalizations, which we derive, are used then the test statistic is asymptotically chi-square.

Reference: 841

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Authors: Jonas Harnau

Dec 2017

Abstract

Despite the widespread use of chain-ladder models, so far no theory was available to test for model specification. The popular over-dispersed Poisson model assumes that the over-dispersion is common across the data. A further assumption is that accident year effects do not vary across development years and vice versa. The log-normal chain-ladder model makes similar assumptions. We show that these assumptions can easily be tested and that similar tests can be used in both models. The tests can be implemented in a spreadsheet. We show the implementation in several empirical applications. While the results for the log-normal model are valid in finite samples, those for the over-dispersed Poisson model are asymptotic. We show in a simulation study that the finite sample performance is close to the asymptotic performance.

Keywords: Bartlett test; F-test; over-dispersed Poisson; log-normal

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Authors: H Peyton Young, Mark Paddrik, Sriram Rajan

Nov 2017

Abstract

A major credit shock can induce large intra-day variation margin payments between counterparties in derivatives markets, which may force some participants to default on their payments. These payment shortfalls become amplified as they cascade through the network of exposures. Using detailed DTCC data we model the full network of exposures, the shock-induced payments, the initial margin collected, and liquidity buffers for about 900 firms operating in the U.S. credit default swaps market. We estimate the total amount of contagion, the marginal contribution of each firm to contagion, and the number of defaulting firms for credit shocks of different magnitudes. A novel feature of the model is that it allows for a range of possible responses to balance sheet stress, including delayed or partial payments. These `soft default' options distinguish our approach from conventional network models, which typically assume that full default is triggered whenever the default boundary is breached.

Revised January 2018

JEL Codes: D85, G23, L1

Keywords: Financial networks, contagion, stress testing, credit default swaps

Reference: 839

Individual View

Authors: Francesco Zanetti, Luca Gambetti, Dimitris Korobilis, John D. Tsoukalas

Sep 2017

Abstract

A VAR model estimated on U.S. data before and after 1980 documents systematic differences in the response of short- and long-term interest rates, corporate bond spreads and durable spending to news TFP shocks. Interest rates across the maturity spectrum broadly increase in the pre-1980s and broadly decline in the post-1980s. Corporate bond spreads decline signi ficantly, and durable spending rises signi ficantly in the post-1980 period while the opposite short-run response is observed in the pre-1980 period. Measuring expectations of future monetary policy rates conditional on a news shock suggests that the Federal Reserve has adopted a restrictive stance before the 1980s with the goal of retaining control over inflation while adopting a neutral/accommodative stance in the post-1980 period.

JEL Codes: E20, E32, E43, E52

Keywords: News shocks, Business cycles, VAR models, DSGE models

Reference: 838

Individual View

Authors: , Elisabetta De Cao

Sep 2017

Abstract

In this paper, we show that unemployment increases child neglect in the United States during the period from 2004 to 2012. A one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate leads to a 20 percent increase in neglect. We identify this effect by instrumenting for the county-level unemployment rate with a Bartik instrument, which we create as the weighted average of the national-level unemployment rates across each of twenty industries, where the weights are the county-level fraction of the employed working-age population in each industry at the start of the sample period. An important mechanism behind this effect is that parents lack social and private safety nets. The effect on neglect is smaller in states that introduce longer extensions to unemployment benefits, and is greater in counties where an initially larger fraction of children are not covered by health insurance. We find no evidence that the effect is driven by alcohol consumption or divorce.

JEL Codes: I10, J12, J13, J65, K42

Keywords: child abuse and neglect, unemployment rate, recession, safety net, unemployment insurance

Reference: 837

Individual View

Authors: Inés Moreno de Barreda, Gilat Levy, Ronny Razin

Sep 2017

Abstract

We model the power of media owners to bias readers’ opinions. In particular we consider readers that have “correlation neglect”, i.e., fail to understand that content across news outlets might be correlated. We study how a media owner who controls several outlets can take advantage of the readers’ neglect. Specifically, we show that the owner can manipulate readers’ beliefs even when readers understand the informativeness of news outlet by outlet. The optimal strategy of the owner is to negatively correlate good news and positively correlate bad news. The owner’s power is increasing in the number of outlets she owns but is constrained by the limited attention of readers. Importantly, our analysis suggests several new insights about welfare in media markets. First, measures of media bias have to take into account the correlation between news outlets. Second, media-market competition curbs the ability of owners to bias readers’ beliefs. In particular, we show that readers always benefit from breaking conglomerates, even when all the new media owners share the same bias. Finally, we highlight a potential cost of media diversity. When readers have correlation neglect, diversity in the interests of owners might lower the informativeness of news content.

Reference: 836

Individual View

Authors: Martin Browning, Ian Crawford, Laura Blow

Sep 2017

Abstract

This paper provides a revealed preference characterisation of quasi-hyperbolic discounting which is designed to be applied to readily-available expenditure surveys. We describe necessary and sufficient conditions for the leading forms of the model and also explore the consequences the restrictions on preferences popularly used in empirical lifecycle consumption models. Using data from a household consumption panel dataset we explore the prevalence of time-inconsistent behaviour. The sophisticated quasi-hyperbolic model provides a signi ficantly more successful account of behaviour than the alternatives considered. We estimate the joint distribution of time preferences and the distribution of discount functions at various time horizons.

JEL Codes: D11, D12, D90

Keywords: Quasi-hyperbolic discounting, revealed preference

Reference: 835

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Authors: Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

Sep 2017

Preliminary version of a paper prepared for IMF-BNM-IMFER Conference on Globalization in the Aftermath of the Crisis and the IMF Economic Review. The research on which this paper is based was in part funded by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement no. 249546. The paper draws on many collaborations, and I am extremely grateful to my co-authors: Miguel Almunia, Agustin Bénétrix, Roberto Bonfatti, Alan de Bromhead, Barry Eichengreen, Alan Fernihough, Ronald Findlay, William Hynes, David Jacks, Markus Lampe, Gisela Rua, and Jeffrey Williamson. The usual disclaimer applies.

Reference: 159

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