2012 Working Papers
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1001 - A New Analysis of A Priori Voting Power in the IMF : Recent Quota Reforms Give Little Cause for Celebration
The weighted voting system used by the International Monetary Fund creates problems of democratic legitimacy since each member's influence or voting power is not in general equal to its voting weight. Using voting power analysis to analyse both the Board of Governors and the Executive Board, we show that it tends to enhance the power of the United States at the expense of all other members. We investigate the constituency system as a form of representative democracy, idealizing it as a compound voting body, and find that it gives disproportionately large power to some smaller European countries, particularly Belgium and Netherlands. We also find that many countries are effectively disenfranchised. Separate analyses are done for 2006 and 2012, before and after recent reforms, which have been billed as being radical, enhancing the voice of the poor and emerging markets, but the effects are disappointingly small.
1000 - EX-ANTE PRICE COMMITMENT WITH RENEGOTIATION IN A DYNAMIC MARKET
This paper studies a dynamic model of a market such as a labour market in which firms post wages and search for workers but trade may occur at a negotiated wage procedure in markets characterized by match-specific heterogeneity. We study a model of a market in which, in each time period, agents on one side (e.g., sellers) choose whether or not to post a price before they encounter agents of the opposite type. After a pair of agents have encountered each other, their match-specific values from trading with each other are realized. If a price was not posted, then the terms of trade (and whether or not it occurs) are determined by bargaining. Otherwise, depending upon the agents’ match-specific trading values, trade occurs (if it does) either on the posted price or at a renegotiated price. We analyze the symmetric Markov subgame perfect equilibria of this market game, and address a variety of issues such as the impact of market frictions on the equilibrium proportion of trades that occur at a posted price rather than at a negotiated price.
999 - How Should Peer-Review Panels Behave?
Many governments wish to assess the quality of their universities. A prominent example is the UK’s new Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. In the REF, peer-review panels will be provided with information on publications and citations. This paper suggests a way in which panels could choose the weights to attach to these two indicators. The analysis draws in an intuitive way on the concept of Bayesian updating (where citations gradually reveal information about the initially imperfectly-observed importance of the research). Our study should not be interpreted as the argument that only mechanistic measures ought to be used in a REF.
998 - Public Disclosure by ‘Small’ Traders
We model strategic trading by a rent-seeking insider, who exchanges without being spotted, and propose a comprehensive theory of market non-anonymity. Several novel results are established. They depend on asset value proprieties, beliefs, inter-temporal choices, and investors characteristics. In equilibrium, under a regulation mandating public trade revelation, disclosures may shift prices. If they do, uninformed manipulations arise only in some instances. Specifically, insiders constrained on asset holdings earn more than they would without such a disclosure rule. Consequently, mandating disclosures is unnecessary, as informative trades will be revealed voluntarily. This result reveals a previously unexplored link to the literature on (uncertified/non-factual) announcements.
997 - The Value to the Environmental Movement of the New Literature on the Economics of Happiness
Many environmentalists have not yet discovered and understood the value to them of a new research literature. That literature is the economics of happiness. It offers a potentially important tool for future policy debate. In particular, this literature offers a defensible way to calculate the costs and benefits of the true happiness value of ‘green’ variables – and to weigh those against the happiness value to people of extra income and consumption. Some of the latest research findings turn out to accord well with environmentalists’ intuitions: green variables seem to have large direct effects on human well-being; society would arguably be better to concentrate more on environmental aims and less on monetary or materialistic ones; greater consumption of things in Western society cannot be expected to make us much happier.
996 - Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?
995 - Subjective and Ex Post Forecast Uncertainty : US Inflation and Output Growth
Survey respondents who make point predictions and histogram forecasts of macro-variables reveal both how uncertain they believe the future to be, ex ante, as well as their ex post performance. Macroeconomic forecasters tend to be overconfident at horizons of a year or more, but over-estimate the uncertainty surrounding their predictions at short horizons.
994 - Noncooperative Oligopoly in Markets with a Continuum of Traders: A Limit Theorem
In this paper, in an exchange economy with atoms and an atomless part, we analyze the Walras equilibrium allocations of the exchange economy with which relationship between the set of the Cournot-Nash equilibrium allocations of a strategic market game and the set of the it is associated. In an example, we show that, even when atoms are countably infinite, Cournot-Nash equilibria yield different allocations from the Walras equilibrium allocations of the underlying exchange economy. We partially replicate the exchange economy by increasing the number of atoms without affecting the atomless part while ensuring that the measure space of agents remains finite. We show that any sequence of Cournot-Nash equilibrium allocations of the strategic market game associated with the partially replicated exchange economies approximates a Walras equilibrium allocation of the original exchange economy.
993 - Price flexibility in British supermarkets
This paper delivers a significantly different empirical perspective on micro pricing behaviour and its impact on macroeconomic processes than previous studies. We examine a seven year period of pricing behaviour by the major British supermarkets encompassing the recession year 2008 and the partial recovery of 2009. Several of our findings run strongly counter to established empirical regularities, in particular the high overall frequency of regular or reference price changes we uncover, the greater intensity of change in more turbulent times and the numerical dominance of price falls over rises. The pricing behaviour revealed also significantly challenges the implicit assumption that prices are tracking cost changes.
992 - Measuring the administrative water allocation mechanism and agricultural amenities
Many arid countries use an administrative water allocation mechanism. Quotas, price discrimination, and increasing block taris are set and enforced by prohibiting the resale of water. Critics of this mechanism argue that allocation is politicized, subjective and slow to respond, and therefore misallocates water compared to a market mechanism. However, an administrative mechanism also promotes social goals thatare not valued economically. In this paper, both positive and negative impacts of the administrative allocation are explored, using a general equilibrium model and with Israel as a case study. The model concludes that from 1995 to 2006, potable water misallocation in Israel was relatively small, on average of 5.5 percent of the potable water supply. The value of agricultural amenities is imputed at approximately 2.3 times agricultural output. At the margin, introducing a water market in Israel is not recommended, i.e., net-social welfare would fall.
991 - Do Reservation Wages Decline Monotonically? A Novel Statistical Test
This paper develops a test for monotonicity of the regression function under endogeneity. The novel testing framework is applied to study monotonicity of the reservation wage as a function of elapsed unemployment duration. Hence, the objective of the paper is twofold: from a theoretical perspective, it proposes a test that formally assesses monotonicity of the regression function in the case of a continuous, endogenous regressor. This is accomplished by combining diff erent nonparametric conditional mean estimators using either control functions or unobservable exogenous variation to address endogeneity with a test statistic based on a functional of a second order U-process. The modied statistic is shown to have a non-standard asymptotic distribution (similar to related tests) from which asymptotic critical values can directly be derived rather than approximated by bootstrap resampling methods. The test is shown to be consistent against general alternatives. From an empirical perspective, the paper provides a detailed investigation of the effect of elapsed unemployment duration on reservation wages in a nonparametric setup. This effect is difficult to measure due to the simultaneity of both variables. Despite some evidence in the literature for a declining reservation wage function over the course of unemployment, no information about the actual form of this decline has yet been provided. Using a standard job search model, it is shown that monotonicity of the reservation wage function, a restriction imposed by several empirical studies, only holds under certain (rather restrictive) conditions on the variables in the model. The test from above is applied to formally evaluate this shape restriction and it is found that reservation wage functions (conditional on different characteristics) do not decline monotonically.
990 - Customers' Complaints and Quality Regulation
By studying a monopoly investment decision, this paper considers the informativeness of customers complaints in contexts characterised by the absence of direct benefits and free riding incentives. Neither the consumer nor the regulator observe the firm's investment, they only observe a realisation of quality that is related to investment in a first order stochastically dominance sense. After observing quality, consumers decide whether to complain based on the difference between the realised quality and a reference point defined by their rational expectations. If a high proportion of consumers complain, the regulator punishes the firm. The paper shows that the absence of a reference point results either in no complaints in equilibrium or in the proportion of complaints being independent of the realised level of quality. The main result is that complaints are not always informative about the level of quality being delivered by the firm. Indeed, a firm might be punished despite of investment levels being high if consumers expected high quality or, on the contrary, not being punished when investing is low if consumers expected low quality. Furthermore, this lack of informativeness can be worsened by a repeated interaction between the firm and the consumers.
989 - Everyone Wants a Chance : Initial Positions and Fairness in Ultimatum Games
Fairness emerges as a relevant factor in redistributive preferences in surveys and experiments. We study experimentally the impact of varying the probability with which players are assigned to initial positions in Ultimatum Games (UGs). In the baseline case players have equal opportunities of being assigned the proposer position .arguably the more advantaged one in UGs. Chances become increasingly unequal across three treatments. We also manipulate the inter-temporal allocation of opportunities over rounds. We find that: (1) The more initial chances are distributed unequally, the lower the acceptance rates of a given offer; consequently, offers increase; (2) Being assigned a mere 1% chance of occupying the proposer role ompared to none, significantly increases acceptance rates and decreases offers; (3) Players accept even extreme amounts of unequal chances within each round in exchange for overall equality of opportunities across rounds. Procedural fairness both static and dynamic - has clear relevance for individuals.
988 - Life Satisfaction, Household Income and Personality Traits
We show that personality traits mediate the effect of income on Life Satisfaction. The effect is strong in the case of Neuroticism, which measures the sensitivity to threat and punishment, in both the British Household Panel Survey and the German Socioeconomic Panel. Neuroticism increases the usually observed concavity of the relationship: Individuals with higher Neuroticism score enjoy income more than those with lower score if they are poorer and enjoy income less if they are richer. When the interaction between income and neuroticism is introduced, income does not have significant effect on his own. To interpret the results, we present a simple model where we assume that (i) Life Satisfaction is dependent from the gap between aspired and realized income, and this is modulated by Neuroticism and (ii) income increases in aspirations with a slope less than unity, so that the gap between aspired and realized income increase with aspirations. From the estimation of this model we argue that poorer tend to over-shoot in their aspiration, while rich tend to under-shoot. The estimation of the model also shows substantial effect of traits on income.
987 - Identifying and characterising price leadership in British supermarkets
Price leadership is a concept that lacks precision. We propose a deliberately narrow, falsifiable, definition and illustrate its feasibility using the two leading British supermarket chains. We find both firms engaging in leadership behaviour over a range of products, with the larger being somewhat more dominant but the smaller increasing leadership activity over time. Surprisingly, more price leadership events are price reductions than price increases, but the increases are of larger monetary amounts (so average price increases over time) and the events appear not necessarily related to cost changes. Price leadership appears to play some role in price increases.
986 - US inflation expectations and heterogeneous loss functions, 1968–2010
The recent literature has suggested that macroeconomic forecasters may have asymmetric loss functions, and that there may be heterogeneity across forecasters in the degree to which they weigh under and over-predictions. Using an individual-level analysis that exploits the SPF respondents. histogram forecasts, we find little evidence of asymmetric loss for the inflation forecasters.
985 - Testing for optimal monetary policy via moment inequalities
Selecting a policy regime, commonly commitment or discretion. In this paper we propose a new procedure for testing optimal monetary policy, relying on moment inequalities that nest commitment and discretion as two special cases. The approach is based on the derivation of bounds for ination that are consistent with optimal policy under either policy regime. We derive testable implications that allow for specication tests and discrimination between the two alternative regimes. The proposed procedure is implemented to examine the conduct of monetary policy in the United States economy
984 - Expectations and Fluctuations : The Role of Monetary Policy
How does the economy respond to shocks to expectations? This paper addresses this question within a cashless, monetary economy. A competitive economy features producers and consumers/workers with asymmetric information. Only workers observe current productivity and hence they perfectly anticipate prices, whereas all agents observe a noisy signal about long-run productivity. Information asymmetries imply that monetary policy and consumers' expectations have real effects. Non-fundamental, purely expectational shocks are conventionally thought of as demand shocks. While this remains a possibility, expectational shocks can also have the characteristics of supply shocks: if positive, they increase output and employment, and lower ination. Whether expectational shocks manifest themselves as demand or supply shocks depends on the monetary policy pursued. Forward-looking policies generate multiple equilibria in which the role of consumers' expectations is arbitrary. Optimal policies restore the complete information equilibrium. They do so by manipulating prices so that producers correctly anticipate their revenue despite their uncertainty about current productivity. I design targets for forward-looking interest-rate rules which restore the complete information equilibrium for any policy parameters. Ination stabilization per se is typically suboptimal as it can at best eliminate uncertainty arising through prices. This offers a motivation for the Dual Mandate of central banks.
983 - Implementation Cycles : Investment-Specific Technological Change and the Length of Patents
This paper shows that implementation cycles, introduced in Shleifer (1986) , are possible in the presence of capital and the absence of borrowing constraints. In a two-sector economy, patents on cost-saving ideas which take the form of investment-specic technological change arrive exogenously at a sequential, perfectly smooth rate: in odd-numbered periods, they reach a firm producing capital of type 1 and, in the even-numbered ones, a firm producing capital of type 2 . Firms can make profits out of these once. While the immediate appropriation (henceforth, \implementation") of patents is always a possibility, for accordingly formed expectations, firms can alternatively implement their patents simultaneously. This is because investment-specific technological change naturally introduces a one-period discrepancy between the time firms implement their patents and the time they receive revenue out of them. The implementation of a patent implies a sharp fall in investment which, in turn, causes a boom in current consumption. As a result, the consumption boom takes place before the wealth boom. This not only eliminates the need to smooth consumption away from the wealth boom to the period before it as conjectured, but, further, it implies that the interest rate paid when revenue is realized and wealth expands falls. Consequently, present discounted profits rise and implementation cycles can become a possibility. In a policy extension, I show that prolonging patent rights to two periods rules out \implementation cycles" and may lead to a welfare improvement.
982 - Markov Switching Monetary Policy in a two-country DSGE Model
In this paper I show, using both empirical and theoretical analysis, that changes in monetary policy in one country can have important effects on other economies. My new empirical evidence shows that changes in the monetary policy behaviour of the Fed since the start of the Euro, well captured by a Markov-switching Taylor rule, have had significant effects on the behaviour of inflation and output in the Eurozone even though ECB’s monetary policy is found to be fairly stable. Using a two-country DSGE model, I examine this case theoretically; monetary policy in one of the countries (labelled foreign) switches regimes according to a Markov-switching process and this has nonnegligible effects in the other (home) country. Switching by the foreign central bank renders commitment to a time invariant interest rate rule suboptimal for the home central bank. This is because home agents expectations change as foreign monetary policy changes which affects the dynamics of home inflation and output. Optimal policy in the home country instead reacts to the regime of the foreign monetary policy and so implies a time-varying reaction of the home Central Bank. Following this time-varying optimal policy at home eliminates the effects in the home country of foreign regime shifts, and also reduces dramatically the effects in the foreign country. Therefore, changes in foreign monetary regimes should not be neglected in considering monetary policy at home.
981 - Smithian Growth Through Creative Organization
We consider a model in which appropriate organization fosters innovation, but because of contractibility problems, this benet cannot be internalized. The organizational design element we focus on is the division of labor, which as Adam Smith argued, facilitates invention by observers of the production process. However, entrepreneurs choose its level only to facilitate monitoring their workers. Whether there is innovation depends on the interaction of the markets for labor and for inventions. A high level of specialization is chosen when the wage share is low. But low wage shares arise only when there are few entrepreneurs, which limits the market for innovations therefore and discourages inventive activity. When there are many entrepreneurs, the innovation market is large, but the rate of invention is low because there is little specialization.Rapid technological progress therefore requires a balance between these opposing effects, which occurs with a moderate relative scarcity of entrepreneurs and workers. In a dynamic version of the model in which a credit constraint limits entry into entrepreneurship, this relative scarcity depends on the wealth distribution, which evolves endogenously. There is an inverted-U relation between growth rates driven by innovation and the level of inequality. Institutional improvements have ambiguous effects on growth. In light of the model, we offer a reassessment of the mechanism by which organizational innovations such as the factory may have spawned the industrial revolution.
980 - The Impact of “Rollover” Contracts on Switching Costs in the UK Voice Market: Evidence from Disaggregate Customer Billing Data
In February 2008, British Telecommunications (BT) introduced automatically renewing, or "rollover", contracts into the UK market for fixed-voice telephone service. These contracts included a 12-month Minimum Contract Period (MCP) with associated Early Termination Charges (ETCs). Unless customers opted out, at the end of the 12 months they would automatically be rolled over into a new MCP and face new ETCs if they later wished to leave BT. Using a unique, disaggregate, customer billing dataset, we measure the impact of rollover contracts on BT customers’ decision to switch to another provider. We find that, controlling for the effects of tenure, broadband purchase, price discounts, and self-selection, rollover households switch after their first MCP 34.8% (54.8%) less than comparable customers on standard plans (fixed-term contracts). These imply rollover contracts induce switching costs on the order of 33.0% of the monthly price of the average BT fixed-voice telephone service. This raises significant concerns about the competitive effects of such contracts in media and telecommunications markets.
979 - Endogenous Product Choice: A Progress Report
Empirical models of differentiated product demand are widely used by both aca- demics and practitioners. While these methods treat carefully the potential endogene- ity of price, until recently they have assumed the number and characteristics of the products offered by firms are exogenous. This paper presents a progress report on an ongoing research agenda to address this issue. First, it summarizes how the appropriate choice of "orthogonal" instruments can yield consistent estimates of own and cross-price elasticities in the presence of endogenous product characteristics. Second, it summarizes how to measure "quality markups" and the welfare consequences of endogenous prod- uct quality in U.S. cable television markets. Related papers and extensions to consider multiple product characteristics and dynamics are also discussed.
978 - Self-Centered Beliefs : An Empirical Approach
We perform an experiment designed to assess the accuracy of beliefs about distributions. The beliefs relate to behavior (mobile phone purchasing decisions, hypothetical restaurant choices), attitudes (happiness, politics) and observable characteristics (height, weight) and are typically formed through real world experiences. We find a powerful and ubiquitous bias in perceptions that is \self-centered" in the sense that an individual's beliefs about the population distribution changes with their own position in the distribution. In particular, those at extremes tend to perceive themselves as closer to the middle of the distribution than is the case. We discuss possible explanations for this bias.
977 - The Household Effects of Government Spending
This paper provides new evidence on the effects of fiscal policy by studying, using household-level data, how households respond to shifts in government spending. Our identification strategy allows us to control for time-specific aggregate effects, such as the stance of monetary policy or the U.S.-wide business cycle. However, it potentially prevents us from estimating the wealth effects associated with a shift in spending. We find significant heterogeneity in households' response to a spending shock; the effects appear vary over time depending, among other factors, on the state of business cycle and, at a lower frequency, on the composition of employment (such as the share of workers in part-time jobs). Shifts in spending could also have important distributional effects that are lost when estimating an aggregate multiplier. Heads of households working relatively few (weekly) hours, for instance, suffer from a spending shock of the type we analyzed: their consumption falls, their hours increase and their real wages fall.
976 - Probability Distributions or Point Predictions? Survey Forecasts of US Output Growth and Inflation
We consider whether survey respondents.probability distributions, reported as histograms, provide reliable and coherent point predictions, when viewed through the lens of a Bayesian learning model, and whether they are well calibrated more generally. We argue that a role remains for eliciting directly-reported point predictions in surveys of professional forecasters.