Friday, 21 November 2014

2014-100: Jumps in Bond Yields at Known Times

Otmane El Rhazi, Don H. Kim and Jonathan H. Wright. We construct a no-arbitrage term structure model with jumps in the entire state vector at deterministic times but of random magnitudes. Jump risk premia are allowed for. We show that the model implies a closed-form representation of yields as a time-inhomogeneous affine function of the state vector. We apply the model to the term structure of US Treasury rates, estimated at the daily frequency, allowing for jumps on days of employment report announcements. Our model can match the empirical fact that the term structure of interest rate volatility has a hump-shaped pattern on employment report days (but not on other days). The model also produces patterns in bond risk premia that are consistent with the empirical finding that much of the time-variation in excess bond returns accrues at times of important macroeconomic data releases. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-99: Limited Deposit Insurance Coverage and Bank Competition

Otmane El Rhazi, Oz Shy, Rune Stenbacka, and Vladimir Yankov. Deposit insurance designs in many countries place a limit on the coverage of deposits in each bank. However, no limits are placed on the number of accounts held with different banks. Therefore, under limited deposit insurance, some consumers open accounts with different banks to achieve higher or full deposit insurance coverage. We compare three regimes of deposit insurance: No deposit insurance, unlimited deposit insurance, and limited deposit insurance. We show that limited deposit insurance weakens competition among banks and reduces total welfare relative to no or unlimited deposit insurance. Full Text



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2014-98: Homeowner Balance Sheets and Monetary Policy

Otmane El Rhazi, Aditya Aladangady. This paper empirically identifies an important channel through which monetary policy affects consumer spending: homeowner balance sheets. A monetary loosening increases home values, thereby strengthening homeowner balance sheets and stimulating household spending due to a combination of collateral and wealth effects. The magnitude of these effects on a given household depends on local housing market characteristics such as local geography and regulation. Cities with the largest geographic and regulatory barriers to new construction see 3-4% responses in real house prices compared with unconstrained, elastic-supply cities where construction holds prices in check. Using non-public geocoded microdata from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, house price and consumption responses are compared across areas differing in local land availability and zoning laws to identify a marginal propensity to consume out of housing of 0.07. Homeowners with debt service ratios in the highest quartile have MPCs as high as 0.14 compared with negligible responses for those with low debt service ratios. This indicates a strong role for collateral effects, as opposed to pure wealth effects, in driving the relationship between home values and spending. I discuss the implications of these results for the aggregate effects and regional heterogeneity in responses to monetary shocks. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-97: Identifying the Stance of Monetary Policy at the Zero Lower Bound: A Markov-switching Estimation Exploiting Monetary-Fiscal Policy Interdependence

Otmane El Rhazi, Manuel Gonzalez-Astudillo. In this paper, I propose an econometric technique to estimate a Markov-switching Taylor rule subject to the zero lower bound of interest rates. I show that incorporating a Tobit-like specification allows to obtain consistent estimators. More importantly, I show that linking the switching of the Taylor rule coefficients to the switching of the coefficients of an auxiliary uncensored Markov-switching regression improves the identification of an otherwise unidentifiable prevalent monetary regime. To illustrate the proposed estimation technique, I use U.S. quarterly data spanning 1960:1-2013:4. The chosen auxiliary Markov-switching regression is a fiscal policy rule where federal revenues react to debt and the output gap. Results show that there is evidence of policy co-movements with debt-stabilizing fiscal policy more likely accompanying active monetary policy, and vice versa. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-96: It Pays to Set the Menu: Mutual Fund Investment Options in 401(k) plans

Otmane El Rhazi, Veronika K. Pool, Clemens Sialm, and Irina Stefanescu. This paper investigates whether mutual fund families acting as service providers in 401(k) plans display favoritism toward their own funds. Using a hand-collected dataset on retirement investment options, we show that poorly-performing funds are less likely to be removed from and more likely to be added to a 401(k) menu if they are affiliated with the plan trustee. We find no evidence that plan participants undo this affiliation bias through their investment choices. Finally, the subsequent performance of poorly- performing affiliated funds indicates that these trustee decisions are not information driven. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-95: Dealer Networks

Otmane El Rhazi, Dan Li and Norman Schurhoff. Dealers in over-the-counter securities form networks to mitigate search frictions. The audit trail for municipal bonds shows the dealer network has a core-periphery structure. Central dealers are more efficient at matching buyers and sellers than peripheral dealers, which shortens intermediation chains and speeds up trading. Investors face a tradeoff between execution speed and cost. Central dealers provide immediacy by pre-arranging fewer trades and holding larger inventory. However, trading costs increase strongly with dealer centrality. Investors with strong liquidity need trade with central dealers and at times of market-wide illiquidity. Central dealers thus serve as liquidity providers of last resort. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

2014-94: The Importance of Updating: Evidence from a Brazilian Nowcasting Model

Otmane El Rhazi, Daniela Bragoli, Luca Metelli, and Michele Modugno. How often should we update predictions for economic activity? Gross domestic product is a quarterly variable disseminated usually a couple of months after the end of the quarter, but many other macroeconomic indicators are released with a higher frequency, and financial markets react very strongly to them. However, most of the professional forecasters, including the IMF, the OECD, and most central banks, tend to update their forecasts of economic activity only two to four times a year. The main exception is the Central Bank of Brazil which is responsible for collecting and publishing a daily survey on GDP and other variables. The aim of this article is to evaluate the forecasting performance of the Central Bank of Brazil Survey and to compare it with the mechanical forecasts based on state-of-the-art nowcasting techniques. Results indicate that institutional forecasts perform as well as model-based forecasts. The latter finding suggests that, on the one hand, judgmental forecasters do not have computational limitations and are able to incorporate very quickly new information in a way that is as efficient as a machine. On the other hand, it confirms what has been found in other studies, namely that a linear time invariant model does a good job and hence that eventual nonlinearities, time variations and soft information (such as weather conditions or government decisions) that could be incorporated by judgment, do not provide new important information. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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IFDP1124: Gains from Offshoring? Evidence from U.S. Microdata

Otmane El Rhazi, Ryan Monarch, Jooyoun Park, Jagadeesh Sivadasan. We construct a new linked data set with over one thousand offshoring events by matching Trade Adjustment Assistance program petition data to confidential data on U.S. firm operations. We exploit these data to assess how offshoring affects domestic firm-level aggregate employment, output, wages and productivity. Consistent with heterogenous firm models where offshoring involves a fixed cost, we find that the average offshoring firm is larger and more productive than the average non-offshorer. After initiating offshoring, firms experience large declines in employment (46.2 per cent), output (38.5 per cent) and capital (28.8 per cent) relative to their industry peers. We find no significant change in average wages or in total factor productivity measures for offshoring firms. These results are consistent across two separate difference-in-differences (DID) approaches, an instrumental variables approach, and a number of robustness checks. Thus, we find offshoring to be a strong substitute for domestic activity in this large sample of offshoring events. Full Text



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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

IFDP1123: The Replacement of Safe Assets: Evidence from the U.S. Bond Portfolio

Otmane El Rhazi, Carol Bertaut, Alexandra Tabova, and Vivian Wong. The expansion in financial sector "safe" assets, largely in the form of structured products from the U.S. and the Caribbean, in the lead-up to the global financial crisis has by now been fairly well documented. Using a unique dataset derived from security-level data on U.S. portfolio holdings of foreign securities, we show that since the crisis, it is mostly the foreign financial sector that appears to have met U.S. demand for safe and liquid investment assets by expanding its supply of debt securities. We also find a strong negative correlation between the foreign share of the U.S. financial bond portfolio and measures of U.S. safe assets availability: providing evidence on the importance of foreign-issued financial sector debt as a substitute when U.S. issued "safe" assets are scarce. Furthermore, although U.S. investors continue to tap foreign financial markets for "safe" assets, we show that the type of foreign financial debt that fills this portfolio niche post-crisis is quite different than pre-crisis. Post-crisis, we find that U.S. investors have replaced offshore-issued structured securities with high-grade U.S. dollar-denominated financial debt issued from a small group of OECD countries (most notably Australia and Canada). Lastly, these developments have led to a decline in home bias in the U.S. financial bond portfolio that we are able to document for the first time. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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Friday, 7 November 2014

2014-93: Pricing decisions in an experimental dynamic stochastic general equilibrium economy

Otmane El Rhazi, Charles N. Noussair, Damjan Pfajfar, and Janos Zsiros. We construct experimental economies, populated with human subjects, with a structure based on a nonlinear version of the New Keynesian Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model. We analyze the behavior of firms' pricing decisions in four different experimental economies. We consider how well the experimental data conform to a number of accepted empirical stylized facts. Pricing patterns mostly conform to these patterns. Most price changes are positive, and inflation is strongly correlated with average magnitude, but not the frequency, of price changes. Prices are affected negatively by the productivity shock and positively by the output gap. Lagged real interest rate has a negative effect on prices, unless human subjects choose the interest rate, or firms sell perfect substitutes in the output market. There is inertia in price setting, firms integrate wage increases into their prices, and there is evidence of adaptive behavior in price-setting in our laboratory economy. The hazard function for price changes, however, is upward-sloping, in contrast to most empirical studies. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-92: Financing Constraints and Unemployment: Evidence from the Great Recession

Otmane El Rhazi, Burcu Duygan-Bump, Alexey Levkov, and Judit Montoriol-Garriga. Exploiting the differential financing needs across industrial sectors, this paper shows that financing constraints of small businesses in the United States are one of the drivers explaining the unemployment dynamics during the Great Recession. We show that workers in small firms are more likely to become unemployed during the 2007-09 financial crisis if they work in industries with high external financing needs. We find very similar results for the 1990-91 recession, but not for the 2001 recession, where only the former was associated with a reduction in loan supply. These findings further support the credit constraints hypothesis. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-91: "The ins and outs of mortgage debt during the housing boom and bust"

Otmane El Rhazi, Neil Bhutta. From 1999 to 2013, U.S. mortgage debt doubled and then contracted sharply. Our understanding of the factors driving this volatility in the stock of debt is hampered by a lack of data on mortgage flows. Using comprehensive, individual-level panel data on consumer liabilities, I estimate detailed mortgage inflows and outflows. During the boom, inflows from real estate investors tripled, far outpacing growth from other segments such as first-time homebuyers. During the bust, although defaults and deleveraging are popular explanations for the debt decline, a collapse in inflows has been the major driver. Inflow declines across counties have been associated not just with house price declines, but also with rising unemployment and higher minority population shares. Finally, inflow declines reflect, in part, a dramatic decline in first-time homebuying. First-time homebuying fell among both high and low credit score individuals, but much more precipitously for low score individuals. Further analysis suggests that the differential decline by credit score likely reflects markedly tightened credit supply. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-90: Does education loan debt influence household financial distress? An assessment using the 2007-09 SCF Panel

Otmane El Rhazi, Jeffrey P. Thompson and Jesse Bricker. This paper uses the recent 2007-09 SCF panel to examine the influence of student loans on financial distress. Families with student loans in 2007 have higher levels of financial distress than families without such loans, and these families were more susceptible to transitions to financial distress during the early stages of the Great Recession. This correlation persists once we control for a host of other demographic, work-status, and household balance sheet measures. Families with an average level of student loans were 3.1 percentage points more likely to be 60 days late paying bills and 3 percentage points more likely to be denied credit. During this same time period, families with other types of consumer debt were no more or less likely to be financially distressed. Education loans enable students to go to college and improve their employment and earnings prospects. On average, families with education loans in the 2007-09 SCF saw higher income growth between surveys. Further, the value of completing a degree is evident in the data: families without a degree but with education debt drive much of the correlations between financial distress and education loans. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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2014-89: Inflation Experience and Inflation Expectations: Dispersion and Disagreement Within Demographic Groups

Otmane El Rhazi, Benjamin K. Johannsen. Using consumption data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, I document persistent differences across demographic groups in the dispersion of household-specific rates of inflation. Using survey data on inflation expectations, I show that demographic groups with greater dispersion in experienced inflation also disagree more about future inflation. I argue that these results can be rationalized from the perspective of an imperfect information model in which idiosyncratic inflation experience serves as a signal about aggregate inflation. These empirical regularities pose a challenge to several other popular models of the expectations formation process of households. Full Text



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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

2014-88: Diffusion of Containerization

Otmane El Rhazi, Gisela Rua. This paper uses a newly constructed, comprehensive dataset to investigate the diffusion of containerization. The data show that country adoption is exceptionally fast while firm usage increases more slowly. To guide my empirical investigation, I build a multi-country trade model with endogenous adoption of a new transportation technology that is consistent with these facts. I then test empirically the predictions of the model and find that: (1) usage of containerization increases with firms' fixed costs and the size and average income of the container network; and (2) adoption depends on expected future usage, adoption costs, and trade with the United States, the first and largest user of containerization. Full Text



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Otmane El Rhazi

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