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2017 Working Papers

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Title/Author(s) Abstract Number

A Model of the Fed’s View on Inflation

Thomas Hasenzagl, Filippo Pellegrino, Lucrezia Reichlin and Giovanni Ricco

A view often expressed by the Fed is that three components matter in inflation dynamics: a trend anchored by long run inflation expectations; a cycle connecting nominal and real variables; and oil prices. This paper proposes an econometric structural model of inflation formalising this view. Our findings point to a stable expectational trend, a sizeable and well identified Phillips curve and an oil cycle which, contrary to the standard rational expectation model, affects inflation via expectations without being reflected in the output gap. The latter often overpowers the Phillips curve. In fact, the joint dynamics of the Phillips curve cycle and the oil cycles explain the inflation puzzles of the last ten years.


To the Victor Belongs the Spoils? Party
Membership and Public Sector Employment in
Membership and Public Sector Employment in

Membership and Public Sector Employment in
Membership and Public Sector Employment in

Fernanda Brollo, Pedro Forquesato & Juan Carlos Gozzi

We analyze how political discretion a.ects the selection of government workers, using individual-level data on political party membership and matched employer-employee data on the universe of formal workers in Brazil. Exploiting close mayoral races, we find that winning an election leads to an increase of over 40% in the number of members of the winning party working in the municipal bureaucracy. Employment of members of the ruling party increases relatively more in senior positions, but also expands in lower-ranked jobs, suggesting that discretionary appointments are used both to influence policymaking and to reward supporters. We find that party members hired after their party is elected tend be of similar or even higher quality than members of the runner-up party, contrary to common perceptions that political appointees are less qualified. Moreover, the increased public employment of members of the ruling party is long-lasting, extending beyond the end of the mayoral term.


Poverty measurement (in India): Defining group-specific
poverty lines or taking preferences into account?

poverty lines or taking preferences into account?

Aditi Dimri and François Maniquet

We study absolute income poverty measurement when agents differ in preferences and face different prices. The difficulty arising from price heterogeneity is typically solved using equivalent income, but the choice of the reference price vector remains arbitrary. We provide a way to solve this arbitrariness problem by making the poverty measure consistent with preferences: an agent qualifies as poor if and only if she prefers the poverty line bundle to her current consumption bundle.
We then prove that defining group/region specific poverty lines is another way of recovering consistency with preferences, provided one uses the headcount ratio. Comparing the resulting three approaches using Indian data, we find that the different approaches leads to different poverty conclusions. We show that not taking preferences into account leads to severely underestimating urban poverty


The Postwar British Productivity Failure

Nicholas Crafts

British productivity growth disappointed during the early postwar period. This reflected inadequate investment in equipment and skills but also entailed inefficient use of inputs. Weak management, dysfunctional industrial relations, and badly-designed economic policy were all implicated. The policy framework was partly the result of seeking low unemployment through wage restraint by appeasement of organized labour. A key aspect was weak competition. This exacerbated corporate governance and industrial-relations problems in the British ‘variety of capitalism’ which sustained low effort bargains and managerial incompetence. Other varieties of capitalism were better placed to achieve fast growth but were infeasible for Britain given its history.


The Effect of Positive Mood on Cooperation in Repeated Interaction

Eugenio Proto, Daniel Sgroi and Mahnaz Nazneen

Existing research supports two opposing mechanisms through which positive
mood might a ect cooperation. Some studies have suggested that positive mood
produces more altruistic, open and helpful behavior, fostering cooperation. However, there is contrasting research supporting the idea that positive mood produces more assertiveness and inward-orientation and reduced use of information, hampering cooperation. We find evidence that suggests the second hypothesis dominates when playing the repeated Prisoner's Dilemma. Players in an induced positive mood tend to cooperate less than players in a neutral mood setting. This holds regardless of uncertainty surrounding the number of repetitions or whether pre-play communication has taken place. This finding is consistent with a text analysis of the pre-play communication between players indicating that subjects in a more positive mood use more inward-oriented, more negative and less positive language. To the best of our knowledge we are the first to use text analysis in pre-play communication.


The Regulation of Public Service Broadcasters : Should there be more advertising on television?

Gregory S. Crawford
Lachlan Deer
Jeremy Smith &
Paul Sturgeon

Increased competition for viewers’ time is threatening the viability of public service broadcasters (PSBs) around the world. Changing regulations regarding advertising minutes might increase revenues, but little is known about the structure of advertising demand. To address this problem, we collect a unique dataset on monthly impacts (quantities) and prices of UK television channels between 2002 and 2009 to estimate the (inverse) demand for advertising on both public and commercial broadcasters. We find that increasing PSB advertising minutes to the level permitted for non-PSBs would increase PSB and industry revenue by 10.5% and 6.7%.


Monetary Policy Shifts and Central Bank Independence

Irfan Qureshi

Why does low central bank independence generate high macroeconomic instability? A government may periodically appoint a subservient central bank chairman to exploit the inflation-output trade-off, which may generate instability. In a New Keynesian framework, time-varying monetary policy is connected with a “chairman effect.” To identify departures from full independence, I classify chairmen based on tenure (premature exits), and the type of successor (whether the replacement is a government ally). Bayesian estimation using cross-country data confirms the relationship between policy shifts and central bank independence, explaining approximately 25 (15) percent of inflation volatility in developing (advanced) economies. Theoretical analyses reveal a novel propagation mechanism of the policy shock.


Government Purchases Reloaded : Informational Insufficiency and Heterogeneity in Fiscal VARs

Atif Ellahie & Giovanni Ricco

Using a large Bayesian VAR, we approximate the flow of information received by economic agents to investigate the effects of changes to government purchases. We document robust evidence that informational insufficiency in conventional models explains inconsistent results across samples and commonly employed identifications in recursive Structural VARs and Expectational VARs. Furthermore, we report heterogeneous effects of components of government purchases. While aggregate government purchases do not appear to produce strong stimulative effects with output multiplier around 0.7, government investment components have multipliers well above unity. State and local consumption, which captures investment in education and health, elicits a strong response.


The Soviet Economy, 1917-1991 : Its Life and Afterlife

Mark Harrison

In terms of economic development, Russia before and after the Soviet era was just an average economy. If the Soviet era is distinguished, it was not by economic growth or its contribution to human development, but by the use of the economy to build national power over many decades. In this respect, the Soviet economy was a success. It was also a tough and unequal environment in which to be born, live, and grow old. The Soviet focus on building national capabilities did improve opportunities for many citizens. Most important were the education of women and the increased survival of children. The Soviet economy was designed for the age of mass production and mass armies. That age has gone, but the idea of the Soviet economy lives on, fed by nostalgia and nationalism.


The Transmission of Monetary Policy Shocks

Silvia Miranda-Agrippino & Giovanni Ricco

Despite years of research, there is still uncertainty around the effects of monetary policy shocks. We reassess the empirical evidence by combining a new identification that accounts for informational rigidities, with a exible econometric method robust to misspecications that bridges between VARs and Local Projections. We show that most of the lack of robustness of the results in the extant literature is due to compounding unrealistic assumptions of full information with the use of severely misspecied models. Using our novel methodology, we find that a monetary tightening is unequivocally contractionary, with no evidence of either price or output puzzles.


Taxes and the Location of Targets

Wiji Arulampalam,
Michael P. Devereux & Federica Liberini

We use firm-level data to investigate the impact of taxes on the international location of targets in M&A allowing for heterogeneous responses by companies. The statutory tax rate in the target country is found to have a negative impact on the probability of an acquisition in that country. In addition, the estimated size of the effect is found to depend on whether (i) acquirer is a domestic or a multinational enterprise; (ii) the acquisition is domestic or cross-border; and (iii) the acquirer's country has a worldwide or territorial tax system.


Secrecy and State Capacity: A Look Behind the Iron Curtain

Mark Harrison

This paper reviews two decades of research on the political economy of secrecy, based on the records of former Soviet state and party archives. Secrecy was an element of Soviet state capacity, particularly its capacity for decisiveness, free of the pressures and demands for accountability that might have arisen from a better informed citizenry. But secrecy was double-edged. Its uses also incurred substantial costs that weakened the capacity of the Soviet state to direct and decide. The paper details the costs of secrecy associated with “conspirative” government business processes, adverse selection of management personnel, everyday abuses of authority, and an uninformed leadership.