When economic models are unable to fit the data, what can researchers do?
Atsushi Inoue, Chun-Hung Kuo, Barbara Rossi 24 November 2014
The Great Recession uncovered the difficulties that economic structural models have in explaining the data. This column proposes a methodology that can help identify the sources of mis-specification by introducing exogenous processes. These exogenous processes are not structural shocks but processes that can improve the fit. The results indicate that including more labour and asset frictions in economic models could improve their performance.
Existing models may be mis-specified
The recent financial crisis of 2007-09 (the so-called ‘Great Recession’) uncovered the difficulties that recent structural economic models face in explaining the data. The fact that structural models face limitations in explaining and forecasting is well known. For example, Edge and Gurkaynak (2010), among others, have shown that that the forecast performance of the Smets and Wouters (2007) model is not better than that of a naïve constant growth rate model during the Great Moderation period.
model mis-specification, Great Recession, structural shocks
What drives micro and macro volatility?
Cosmin L. Ilut , Matthias Kehrig, Martin Schneider 26 October 2014
Heightened economic uncertainty has attracted much recent attention. Policymakers repeatedly emphasise uncertainty as a key factor driving the last two recessions – in particular the depth and length of the Great Recession. This column proposes asymmetric hiring rules as a mechanism that generates endogenous and joint movements in macro and micro volatility of employment growth.
If and how increased uncertainty may trigger recessions 1, lower the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policy, and stifle subsequent recoveries is the main object of a new ‘uncertainty literature’ surveyed in Bloom (2014). The authors typically point to time-varying volatility of both aggregate employment growth – ‘macro volatility’ – and cross-sectional employment growth dispersion, analogously labeled ‘micro volatility’.
Frontiers of economic research Labour markets Macroeconomic policy
employment volatility, Great Recession
The British origins of the US endowment model
David Chambers, Elroy Dimson 20 October 2014
Yale University has generated annual returns of 13.9% over the last 20 years on its endowment – well in excess of the 9.2% average return on US university endowments. Keynes’ writings were a considerable influence on the investment philosophy of David Swensen, Yale’s CIO. This column traces how Keynes’ experiences managing his Cambridge college endowment influenced his ideas, and sheds light on how some of the lessons he learnt are still relevant to endowments and foundations today.
In recent years much attention has been given to the so-called ‘Yale model’, an approach to investing practised by the Yale University Investments Office in managing its $24 billion endowment. The core of this model is an emphasis on diversification and on active management of equity-orientated, illiquid assets (Yale 2014). Yale has generated returns of 13.9% per annum over the last 20 years – well in excess of the 9.2% average return on US college and university endowments. Other leading US university endowments have followed this model (Lerner et al. 2008).
investment, endowments, university endowments, college endowments, Universities, Keynes, asset management, diversification, Great Depression, Great Recession, buy-and-hold, equity investing, portfolio management, Yale, Cambridge
To exit the Great Recession, central banks must adapt their policies and models
Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang 10 September 2014
During the Great Moderation, inflation targeting with some form of Taylor rule became the norm at central banks. This column argues that the Global Crisis called for a new approach, and that the divergence in macroeconomic performance since then between the US and the UK on the one hand, and the Eurozone on the other, is partly attributable to monetary policy differences. The ECB’s model of the economy worked well during the Great Moderation, but is ill suited to understanding the Great Recession.
“Practical men…are usually the slaves…[of] some academic scribbler of a few years back” – John Maynard Keynes.
For monetary policy to be most effective, Michael Woodford emphasised the crucial importance of managing expectations. For this purpose, he advocated that central banks adopt explicit rules for setting interest rates to check inflation and recession, and went on to note that:
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
Taylor rule, forward guidance, great moderation, global crisis, Great Recession, quantitative easing, DSGE models, expectations, tapering, US, UK, Europe, eurozone, ECB, Bank of England, central banking, IMF, unconventional monetary policy
Secular stagnation: Facts, causes, and cures – a new Vox eBook
Coen Teulings, Richard Baldwin 10 September 2014
The CEPR Press eBook on secular stagnation has been viewed over 80,000 times since it was published on 15 August 2014. The PDF remains freely downloadable, but as the European debate on secular stagnation is moving into policy circles, we decided to also make it a Kindle book. This is available from Amazon; all proceeds will help defray VoxEU expenses.
Teaser from original column posted on 15 August 2014
Six years after the Crisis and the recovery is still anaemic despite years of zero interest rates. Is ‘secular stagnation’ to blame? This column introduces an eBook that gathers the views of leading economists including Summers, Krugman, Gordon, Blanchard, Koo, Eichengreen, Caballero, Glaeser, and a dozen others. It is too early to tell whether secular stagnation is really secular, but if it is, current policy tools will be obsolete. Policymakers should start thinking about potential solutions.
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
interest rates, US, Europe, Japan, investment, macroeconomics, Great Recession, zero lower bound, savings, secular stagnation, SecStag debate
The Great Recession’s long-term damage
Laurence Ball 01 July 2014
Whereas textbook macroeconomic theory suggests that output should return to potential after a recession, there is mounting evidence that deep recessions have highly persistent effects on output. This column reports estimates of the long-term damage caused by the Great Recession. In most countries in the sample, the loss of potential output – 8.4% on average – has been almost as large as the loss of actual output. In the countries hit hardest by the recession, the growth rate of potential output is much lower today than it was before 2008.
According to macroeconomics textbooks, a fall in aggregate demand causes a recession in which output drops below potential output – the normal level of production given the economy’s resources and technology. This effect is temporary, however. A recession is followed by a recovery period in which output returns to potential, and potential itself is not affected significantly by the recession.
growth, unemployment, OECD, potential output, Great Recession, hysteresis
The great British jobs and productivity mystery
João Paulo Pessoa, John Van Reenen 28 June 2014
The fall in productivity in the UK following the Great Recession was particularly bad, whereas the hit to jobs was less severe. This column discusses recent research exploring this puzzle. Although the mystery has not been fully solved, an important part of the explanation lies in the flexibility of wages combined with very low investment.
With some economic recovery having finally got underway, the UK is still feeling the repercussions of the so-called ‘Great Recession’. National output, as measured by GDP, fell by over 7% from its peak in January 2008 – the biggest fall since the inter-war years – and only returned to its pre-crisis level in April 2014 (NIESR 2014). This has been the slowest recovery in this century (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. The profile of recession and recovery
Europe's nations and regions
unemployment, productivity growth, UK, Great Recession
Trade policy through 2013: Signs of improvement but new policy concerns
Chad P Bown 27 June 2014
Temporary trade barriers have become more than an important bellwether for contemporary protectionism; with persistent tariff levels, they are now a primary obstacle to free trade. The World Bank’s newly updated Temporary Trade Barriers Database suggests that the Great Recession-era increases in import protection may be levelling off. Now policymakers begin to face the daunting task of dismantling all of those temporary barriers they imposed during the early phase of the crisis.
How countries apply their trade policies has been of heightened interest since the early days of the Great Recession (Baldwin and Evenett 2009). While applied import tariffs have proven resilient to change, the temporary trade barriers of antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duties have become important to understanding the year-to-year churning that arises under modern commercial policy. Here we summarise evidence from the World Bank’s Temporary Trade Barriers Database – that has been newly updated with data through 2013 – for more than 25 major economies.
G20, protectionism, Trade barriers, Great Recession, TTBs
Falling real wages in the UK
David Blanchflower, Stephen Machin 12 May 2014
The pain of the UK’s Great Recession has been spread more evenly than previous downturns, with falling real wages across the distribution. This column asks why this happened, how it compares with the US experience, and what the prospects are for recovering lost wage gains.
There have been unprecedented falls in real wages in the UK since the start of the recession triggered by the financial crisis of 2008. This did not happen in previous economic downturns – median real wage growth slowed down or stalled, but it did not fall. Indeed, in past recessions, almost all workers in both the lowest and highest deciles of the wage distribution experienced growing real wages. It was the unemployed who experienced almost all the pain – they lost their jobs and much of their incomes, and many were unemployed for a long time.
Labour markets Poverty and income inequality
US, unemployment, wages, Inequality, UK, Great Recession, real wages
Has US household deleveraging ended? A model-based estimate of equilibrium debt
Bruno Albuquerque, Ursel Baumann, Georgi Krustev 18 April 2014
Household deleveraging in the US has impeded consumption and market activity in recent years, holding back the recovery. Despite substantial progress in balance sheet repair, a key question is whether deleveraging has ended or whether further adjustment is needed. This column presents time-varying equilibrium estimates of the household debt-to-income ratio determined by economic fundamentals. Taking into account the latest available data, the estimates suggest that the household deleveraging process may have ended at the end of 2013.
The balance sheet adjustment in the household sector has been a prominent feature of the last US recession and subsequent recovery. The beginning of the economic downturn in late 2007 broadly coincided with a sustained reduction in household liabilities relative to income – that is, household deleveraging – which contrasted with the strong build-up of debt before the crisis. From a peak of around 129% in the fourth quarter of 2007, the household debt-to-income ratio fell by 26 percentage points to around 104% in the fourth quarter of 2013, led by sustained declines in mortgage debt.
Great Recession, household debt, household deleveraging