Macroeconomics & International Finance Seminars

Tuesday 1:40–3:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom

Fall 2020

October 13
Eric Verhoogen, Columbia University
"Estimating Production Functions in Differentiated-Product Industries with Quantity Information and External Instruments"
Host: Brenda Samaniego
This paper develops a new method for estimating production-function parameters that can be applied in differentiated-product industries with endogenous quality and variety choice. We take advantage of data on physical quantities of outputs and inputs from the Colombian manufacturing census, focusing on producers of rubber and plastic products. Assuming constant elasticities of substitution of outputs and inputs within firms, we aggregate from the firm-product to the firm level and show how quality and variety choices may bias standard estimates. Using real exchange rates and the national minimum wage, we construct external instruments for materials and labor choices. In the spirit of established panel-data approaches, we implement a simple two-step instrumental-variables method, first estimating the materials and labor coefficients in a difference equation and then estimating the capital coefficient in a levels equation. Our estimates differ from those of existing methods and our preferred productivity estimate performs relatively well in predicting future export performance. 

October 20
Andrew Foerster, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
"Estimating Macroeconomic Models of Financial Crises: An Endogenous Regime-Switching Approach"
Host: Hikaru Saijo
We estimate a workhorse DSGE model with an occasionally binding borrowing constraint. First, we propose a new specification of the occasionally binding constraint, where the transition between the unconstrained and constrained states is a stochastic function of the leverage level and the constraint multiplier. This specification maps into an endogenous regime-switching model. Second, we develop a general perturbation method for the solution of such a model. Third, we estimate the model with Bayesian methods to fit Mexico’s business cycle and financial crisis history since 1981. The estimated model fits the data well, identifying three crisis episodes of varying duration and intensity: the Debt Crisis in the early-1980s, the Peso Crisis in the mid-1990s, and the Global Financial Crisis in the late-2000s. The crisis episodes generated by the estimated model display sluggish and long-lasting build-up and stagnation phases driven by plausible combinations of shocks. Different sets of shocks explain different variables over the business cycle and the three historical episodes of sudden stops identified.

October 27
Arlene Wong, Princeton University
"Debt, Human Capital Accumulation and the Allocation of Talent"
Host: Carl Walsh

November 3
Tomaz Cajner, Fed Board
"The U.S. Labor Market during the Beginning of the Pandemic Recession"
Host: Grace Gu
Using weekly administrative payroll data from the largest U.S. payroll processing company, we measure the evolution of the U.S. labor market during the first four months of the global COVID-19 pandemic. After aggregate employment fell by 21 percent through late-April, employment rebounded somewhat through late-June. The re-opening of temporarily shuttered businesses contributed significantly to the employment rebound, particularly for smaller businesses. We show that worker recall has been an important component of recent employment gains for both re-opening and continuing businesses. Employment losses have been concentrated disproportionately among lower wage workers; as of late June employment for workers in the lowest wage quintile was still 20 percent lower relative to mid-February levels. As a result, average base wages increased between February and June, though this increase arose entirely through a composition effect. Finally, we document that businesses have cut nominal wages for almost 7 million workers while forgoing regularly scheduled wage increases for many others.

November 10
Ricardo De La O, USC Marshall
"The Effect of Buybacks on Capital Allocation"
Host: Alonso Villacorta
This paper studies the macroeconomic effects of a 1982 SEC rule that made share buybacks a viable alternative to dividends for paying out funds to shareholders. I propose a quantitative model of heterogeneous firms with dividend adjustment costs and a manager-shareholder conflict, matched to micro data on US corporations’ cash flow statements. The flexibility of buybacks improves welfare by reducing the misallocation of capital. This is not only because investors can more easily shift resources to more productive firms, but also because stock prices become more responsive to productivity and thus help align incentives of managers and shareholders. This "stock price effect" allows the model to not only account for a decline in investment and increase in productivity, but also the increase in corporate cash holdings over the last decades.

November 17
Şebnem Kalemli-Özcan, University of Maryland
"International Spillovers and Local Credit Cycles"
Host: Chenyue Hu
This paper studies the transmission of the Global Financial Cycle (GFC) to domestic credit market conditions in a large emerging market, Turkey, over 2003-13. We use administrative data covering the universe of corporate credit transactions matched to bank balance sheets to document four facts: (1) an easing in global financial conditions leads to lower borrowing costs and an increase in local lending; (2) domestic banks more exposed to international capital markets transmit the GFC locally; (3) the fall in local currency borrowing costs is larger than foreign currency borrowing costs due to the comovement of the uncovered interest rate parity (UIP) premium with the GFC over time; (4) data on posted collateral for new loan issuances show that collateral constraints do not relax during the boom phase of the GFC.

November 24
Sophie Osotimehin, University Quebec
"Misallocation and Intersectoral Linkages"
Host: Galina Hale
We analytically characterize the aggregate productivity loss from distortions in the presence of sectoral production linkages. We find that accounting for low input substitutability reduces the productivity loss and the impact of intermediate-input suppliers. Moreover, with elasticities below one (i.e. below Cobb-Douglas), sectoral linkages do not systematically amplify the productivity loss. We quantify these effects in the context of the distortions caused by market power, using industry-level data for 35 countries. With our benchmark calibration, the median aggregate productivity loss from industry-level markups is 1.3%; assuming Cobb-Douglas elasticities would lead to overestimating the productivity loss by a factor of 1.8.

December 8
Peter Henry, NYU
Host: Galina Hale