Paper # Author Title
We study the effects of changes in uncertainty about future fiscal policy on aggregate economic activity. Fiscal deficits and public debt have risen sharply in the wake of the financial crisis. While these developments make fisscal consolidation inevitable, there is considerable uncertainty about the policy mix and timing of such budgetary adjustment. To evaluate the consequences of this increased uncertainty, we first estimate tax and spending processes for the U.S. that allow for time-varying volatility. We then feed these processes into an otherwise standard New Keynesian business cycle model calibrated to the U.S. economy. We find that fiscal volatility shocks have an adverse effect on economic activity that is comparable to the effects of a 25-basis-point innovation in the federal funds rate. Download Paper
In this paper we report the results of the estimation of a rich dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model of the U.S. economy with both stochastic volatility and parameter drifting in the Taylor rule. We use the results of this estimation to examine the recent monetary history of the U.S. and to interpret, through this lens, the sources of the rise and fall of the great American inflation from the late 1960s to the early 1980s and of the great moderation of business cycle fluctuations between 1984 and 2007. Our main findings are that while there is strong evidence of changes in monetary policy during Volcker’s tenure at the Fed, those changes contributed little to the great moderation. Instead, changes in the volatility of structural shocks account for most of it. Also, while we find that monetary policy was different under Volcker, we do not find much evidence of a big difference in monetary policy among Burns, Miller, and Greenspan. The difference in aggregate outcomes across these periods is attributed to the time-varying volatility of shocks. The history for inflation is more nuanced, as a more vigorous stand against it would have reduced inflation in the 1970s, but not completely eliminated it. In addition, we find that volatile shocks (especially those related to aggregate demand) were important contributors to the great American inflation. Download Paper
This paper compares the role of stochastic volatility versus changes in monetary policy rules in accounting for the time-varying volatility of U.S. aggregate data. Of special interest to us is understanding the sources of the great moderation of business cycle fluctuations that the U.S. economy experienced between 1984 and 2007. To explore this issue, we build a medium-scale dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model with both stochastic volatility and parameter drifting in the Taylor rule and we estimate it non-linearly using U.S. data and Bayesian methods. Methodologically, we show how to confront such a rich model with the data by exploiting the structure of the high-order approximation to the decision rules that characterize the equilibrium of the economy. Our main empirical findings are: 1) even after controlling for stochastic volatility (and there is a fair amount of it), there is overwhelming evidence of changes in monetary policy during the analyzed period; 2) however, these changes in monetary policy mattered little for the great moderation; 3) most of the great performance of the U.S. economy during the 1990s was a result of good shocks; and 4) the response of monetary policy to inflation under Burns, Miller, and Greenspan was similar, while it was much higher under Volcker. Download Paper
This paper shows how changes in the volatility of the real interest rate at which small open emerging economies borrow have a quantitatively important effect on real variables like output, consumption, investment, and hours worked. To motivate our investigation, we document the strong evidence of time-varying volatility in the real interest rates faced by a sample of four emerging small open economies: Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Brazil. We postulate a stochastic volatility process for real interest rates using T-bill rates and country spreads and estimate it with the help of the Particle filter and Bayesian methods. Then, we feed the estimated stochastic volatility process for real interest rates in an otherwise standard small open economy business cycle model. We calibrate eight versions of our model to match basic aggregate observations, two versions for each of the four countries in our sample. We find that an increase in real interest rate volatility triggers a fall in output, consumption, investment, and hours worked, and a notable change in the current account of the economy. Download Paper