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  • From Good to Bad Concentration? US Industries over the Past 30 Years
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Matias Covarrubias, Germán Gutiérrez, Thomas Philippon

    We study the evolution of profits, investment, and market shares in US industries over the past 40 years. During the 1990s, and at low levels of initial concentration, we find evidence of efficient concentration driven by tougher price competition, intangible investment, and increasing productivity of leaders. After 2000, however, the evidence suggests inefficient concentration, decreasing competition

  • Trading Up and the Skill Premium
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Nir Jaimovich, Sergio Rebelo, Arlene Wong, Miao Ben Zhang

    We study the impact on the skill premium of increases in the quality of goods consumed by households (“trading up”). Our empirical work shows that high-quality goods are more intensive in skilled labor than low-quality goods and that household spending on high-quality goods rises with income. We propose a model consistent with these facts. This model accounts for the past rise in the skill premium

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Chad Syverson

    Macroeconomics has become interested inmarket power.A series of studies over the past few years has documented a set of possibly interrelated, broad-based, and decades-long trends: increased market concentration, higher profit rates, higher measured price-cost markups, decreased investment rates, reduced firm entry and factor market dynamism, and a fall in labor’s share of income. If one wanted to

  • Editorial
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Martin Eichenbaum, Erik Hurst, Jonathan A. Parker

    The NBER’s thirty-fourth Annual Conference on Macroeconomics brought together leading scholars to present, discuss, and debate six research papers on central issues in contemporary macroeconomics. In addition, James Stock, former chief economist and director of research at the International Monetary Fund, delivered a thought-provoking afterdinner talk on the economics of climate change. Video recordings

  • Climate Change, Climate Policy, and Economic Growth
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    James H. Stock

    The topics of climate change and climate change policy encompass a complex mixture of the natural sciences, economics, and a mass of institutional, legal, and technical details. This complexity and multidisciplinary nature make it difficult for thoughtful citizens to reach their own conclusions on the topic and for potentially interested economists to know where to start. This essay aims to provide

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Matthew Rognlie

    Recently, I had a dream where I was trying to explain supply and demand to an audience of intransigent economists.How could I say that demand curves sloped downward, they asked, when for so many goods, a simple plot of quantity demanded against price showed the opposite? How could these curves be useful concepts when, even by the most generous account, their parameters shifted from year to year? I

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Marc P. Giannoni

    Since Phillips (1958), economists have sought to estimate a Phillips curve relationship or a positive relation between inflation,pt, and ameasure of the output gap, xt. Although historically such a relationship could be easily detected, the Phillips curve appears to have flattened in the United Statesmore recently. Some authors have suggested that inflation does not depend on slack, that it is largely

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Jonathan Vogel

    The skill premium and inequality, more generally, have increased dramatically in the United States since 1980; see the top panel of figure 1. This rise has coincided with a substantial increase in the relative supply of skilled workers; see the bottom panel of figure 1. To the extent that relative supply and demand shape relative prices, these patterns reveal a sizable skill-biased shift in relative

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Ben S. Bernanke

    In 2008, for the first time since the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve encountered the zero lower bound (ZLB) on the nominal interest rate. The Fed’s target rate, the overnight federal funds rate, fell effectively to zero in the fall as the central bank’s emergency lending programs rapidly increased the supply of bank reserves. Then at its December 2008 meeting, the FederalOpenMarketCommittee

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Greg Kaplan

    Borella, De Nardi, and Yang (2019) tackle an important question. They consider two cohorts of white, non-college-educated Americans: (i) those born between 1936 and 1945 (referred to as the 1940s cohort), and (ii) those born between 1956 and 1965 (referred to as the 1960s cohort). They consider three differences in the opportunities afforded to these cohorts: (i) potential wages, (ii) life expectancy

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Daron Acemoglu

    There is by now a huge literature on the increase in the college premium and other dimensions of inequality in the United States and many other Western nations (see Acemoglu andAutor [2011] for an overview of this literature). As I discuss in the following text, the focal explanation in this literature is that technological changes of the last 4 decades have increased the demand for skills and have

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Janice Eberly

    The paper byCovarrubias, Gutiérrez, and Philippon providesmany useful insights into the rapidly emerging literature on rising concentration in US industries. Importantly, it catalogs some important empirical shortcomings in the literature. It also provides clarity on conceptual issues that have created confusion. The paper goes on to make two types of original empirical contributions. In the first

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Richard Blundell

    Individuals without a college degree in the United States have experienced a relative decline in labor market and other opportunities. This is especially the case for lower-educated white men who entered the labor market in the early 1980s and after. These trends are not exclusive to the United States; in theUnitedKingdom and elsewhere, thosewithout a college degree have fared poorly since the early

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Mark W. Watson

    In this paper, Debortoli, Galı́, and Gambetti offer compelling empirical evidence that extraordinary actions taken by the Federal Reserve were able to shield the macroeconomy from many of the policy constraints associated with the zero lower bound (ZLB) on nominal interest rates. As Debortoli et al. argue, if these extraordinary actions had been ineffective, the United States would have witnessed a

  • Optimal Inflation and the Identification of the Phillips Curve
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Michael McLeay, Silvana Tenreyro

    Several academics and practitioners have pointed out that inflation follows a seemingly exogenous statistical process, unrelated to the output gap, leading some to argue that the Phillips curve has weakened or disappeared. In this paper, we explain why this seemingly exogenous process arises, or, in other words, why it is difficult to empirically identify a Phillips curve, a key building block of the

  • On the Empirical (Ir)Relevance of the Zero Lower Bound Constraint
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Davide Debortoli, Jordi Galí, Luca Gambetti

    We evaluate the hypothesis that the zero lower bound (ZLB) constraint was, in practice, irrelevant during the recent ZLB episode experienced by the US economy (the 2009Q1–2015Q4 period). We focus on two dimensions of economic performance that were ex ante likely to have been affected by a binding ZLB: (i) the volatility of macro variables and (ii) the economy’s response to shocks. Using a variety of

  • The Lost Ones: The Opportunities and Outcomes of White, Non-College-Educated Americans Born in the 1960s
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2020-01-01
    Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang

    White, non-college-educated Americans born in the 1960s face shorter life expectancies, higher medical expenses, and lower wages per unit of human capital compared with those born in the 1940s; men’s wages declined more than women’s. After documenting these changes, we use a life-cycle model of couples and singles to evaluate their effects. The drop in wages depressed the labor supply of men and increased

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Alan J. Auerbach

    The tax reform process that culminated in the December 2017 enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act followed an unusual pattern regarding business tax reform. In particular, the original proposal, the “Blueprint” put forward by Republicans in the House of Representatives in June 2016 (Tax Reform Task Force 2016) called for the adoption of an approach that, at the time, was unfamiliar to many in the

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Robert E. Hall

    This ingenious paper by Koslowski, Veldkamp, and Venkateswaran develops a model with two main components. The first is rooted in the financial economics of asset pricing. It describes amechanism linking bad financial experiences to lengthy periods of low riskless interest rates. The second is rooted in corporate finance. It considers features of financial institutions and markets that explain why safe

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Matthew Rognlie

    This paper provides the most careful and clearheaded study to date of the factor distribution of income in the United States. Its most important contribution is the introduction of a new concept, “factorless income,” which is the residual after assigning aggregate income to labor and capital. Unlike many other studies, which simply assume that factorless income corresponds to either economic profit

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Juliane Begenau

    where the franchise value is the difference between the fair and book value of bank equity. The franchise value is positive when banks can increase the value of their assets above their costs, as captured by the book value, or when banks have a funding advantage. A clever application of a standard valuation technique in finance, the Gordon growthmodel, allows the authors to calculate the model-implied

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    N. Gregory Mankiw

    Any well-trained economist is tempted to say that this question is not well posed, or that neither statement is really true, or something like that. But this is meant to be a psychological gauge of one’s predispositions, not an analytic exercise. So humor me and write down your answer. I will get back to it in a minute. Now, back to border taxes. There is no doubt in my mind that the broad issue addressed

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Guido Lorenzoni

    “Monetary Policy Analysis When Planning Horizons Are Finite” byMichael Woodford fits in a fast-growing literature that attempts to introduce forms of bounded rationality in macroeconomic models. Bounded rationality can be introduced in a variety ofways, depending on howwe describe the agents’ limited ability to process information, to form forecasts, and to compute optimal plans. The paper I am discussing

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Jennifer La’O

    In most macroeconomic models, time is infinite. Agents are endowed with rational expectations including the cognitive ability to solve complex infinite-horizon planning problems. This is a heroic assumption; but when does it matter? In “Monetary Policy Analysis When Planning Horizons Are Finite,” Michael Woodford reconsiders this unrealistic feature, introduces a novel bounded-rationality framework

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Lawrence H. Summers

    I salute the authors’ endeavor to usemarket price to examine the riskiness of the financial system and to evaluate the change in the subsidy represented by government guarantees. As illustrated by my work with Natasha Sarin (Sarin and Summers 2016), which the authors reference, I believe that market information is at a minimum a valuable complement to accounting information in evaluating the health

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    François Gourio

    The paper by Kozlowski, Veldkamp, and Venkateswaran argues that economic agents rationally revised their estimates of tail risk following the Great Recession and that this revision explains, at least in part, the persistent decline of interest rates on safe and liquid assets such as US Treasury securities. In a previous paper (Kozlowski, Veldkamp, and Venkateswaran 2015), the authors argued that the

  • The Macroeconomics of Border Taxes
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Omar Barbiero, Emmanuel Farhi, Gita Gopinath, Oleg Itskhoki

    We analyze the dynamic macroeconomic effects of border adjustment taxes (BAT), both when they are a feature of corporate tax reform (C-BAT) and for the case of value-added tax (VAT). Our analysis arrives at the following main conclusions. First, C-BAT is unlikely to be neutral at the macroeconomic level, as the conditions required for neutrality are unrealistic. The basis for neutrality of VAT is even

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Valerie A. Ramey

    This fine paper by Charles, Hurst, and Schwartz investigates the link between the post-2000 decline in manufacturing employment and the decline of the employment rate, and also analyzes the supporting roles played by transfer payments, geographic mobility, and opioid use. The paper is a particularly useful synthesis because it brings together threads from a number of other papers, including the authors’

  • Comment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Richard Rogerson

    The title of this paper tells us that the goal of this analysis is to account for something called “factorless income.” Two immediate questions arise. What is factorless income? And why do we need to account for it? Although there are perhaps several motivations that might lead to this analysis, I think one prominent motivation stems from the interest in understanding the secular decline in the labor

  • Government Guarantees and the Valuation of American Banks
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Andrew G. Atkeson, Adrien d’Avernas, Andrea L. Eisfeldt, Pierre-Olivier Weill

    Banks’ ratio of the market value to book value of their equity was close to 1 until the 1990s, then more than doubled during the 1996–2007 period, and fell again to values close to 1 after the 2008 financial crisis. Some economists argue that the drop in banks’ market-to-book ratio since the crisis is due to a loss in bank franchise value or profitability. In this paper we argue that banks’ market-to-book

  • The Transformation of Manufacturing and the Decline in US Employment
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Kerwin Kofi Charles, Erik Hurst, Mariel Schwartz

    Using data from a variety of sources, this paper comprehensively documents the dramatic changes in the manufacturing sector and the large decline in employment rates and hours worked among prime-age Americans since 2000. We use cross-region variation to explore the link between declining manufacturing employment and labor market outcomes. We find that manufacturing decline in a local area in the 2000s

  • The Tail That Keeps the Riskless Rate Low
    NBER Macroeconomics Annual (IF 4.429) Pub Date : 2019-01-01
    Julian Kozlowski, Laura Veldkamp, Venky Venkateswaran

    Riskless interest rates fell in the wake of the financial crisis and have remained low. We explore a simple explanation: this recession was perceived as an extremely unlikely event before 2007. Observing such an episode led all agents to reassess macro risk, in particular the probability of tail events. Since changes in beliefs endure long after the event itself has passed, perceived “tail risk” remains