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    New Internet-based markets enable consumer/owners to rent out their durable goods when not using them. Such markets are modeled to determine ownership, rental rates, quantities, and surplus generated. Both the short run, before consumers can revise their ownership decisions, and the long run, in which they can, are examined to assess how these markets change ownership and consumption. The analysis examines bringing-to-market costs, such as labor costs and transaction costs, and considers the operating platform's pricing problem. A survey of consumers broadly supports the modeling assumptions employed. For example, ownership is determined by individuals' forward-looking assessments of planned usage.

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    This paper explores whether affine models with volatility jumps estimated on intradaily S&P 500 futures data over 1983-2008 can capture major daily outliers such as the 1987 stock market crash. I find that intradaily jumps in futures prices are typically small, and that self-exciting but short-lived volatility spikes capture intradaily and daily returns better. Multifactor models of the evolution of diffusive variance and jump intensities improve fits substantially, including out-of-sample over 2009-13. The models capture reasonably well the conditional distributions of daily returns and of realized variance outliers, but underpredict realized variance inliers.

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    We repeat a survey we did in the waning days of the Soviet Union (Shiller, Boycko and Korobov, AER 1991) comparing attitudes towards free markets between Moscow and New York. Additional survey questions, from Gibson Duch and Tedin (J. Politics 1992) are added to compare attitudes towards democracy. Two comparisons are made: between countries, and through time, to explore the existence of international differences in allegiance to democratic free-market institutions, and the stability of these differences. While we find some differences in attitudes towards markets across countries and through time, we do not find most of the differences large or significant. Our evidence does not support a common view that the Russian personality is fundamentally illiberal or non-democratic.

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    We find consistent evidence of negative autocorrelation in decision-making that is unrelated to the merits of the cases considered in three separate high-stakes field settings: refugee asylum court decisions, loan application reviews, and major league baseball umpire pitch calls. The evidence is most consistent with the law of small numbers and the gambler's fallacy - people underestimating the likelihood of sequential streaks occurring by chance - leading to negatively autocorrelated decisions that result in errors. The negative autocorrelation is stronger among more moderate and less experienced decision-makers, following longer streaks of decisions in one direction, when the current and previous cases share similar characteristics or occur close in time, and when decision-makers face weaker incentives for accuracy. Other explanations for negatively autocorrelated decisions such as quotas, learning, or preferences to treat all parties fairly, are less consistent with the evidence, though we cannot completely rule out sequential contrast effects as an alternative explanation.

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    This lecture considers the case for consumer financial regulation in an environment where many households lack the knowledge to manage their financial affairs effectively. The lecture argues that financial ignorance is pervasive and unsurprising given the complexity of modern financial products, and that it contributes meaningfully to the evolution of wealth inequality. The lecture uses a stylized model to discuss the welfare economics of paternalistic intervention in financial markets, and discusses several specific examples including asset allocation in retirement savings, fees for unsecured short-term borrowing, and reverse mortgages.

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    France stands out as a country with a low labor force attachment of older workers. A reversal in the trend of French labor participation rates over 50 is under way, partly due to the pension reforms that took place since 1993. The French ageing process is driven by large gains in life expectancy and Pension reforms allocate part of these gains to work rather than to retirement. The implicit assumptions guiding the reforms have been that additional years of life are years with a health status that can be considered reasonably compatible with work. If this is not the case, the idea of sharing these additional years of life between work and retirement is questionable. Considering mortality and health status, we question the fact that the reforms may have gone too far in increasing the retirement age. To tackle these issues, we rely on two different methodological approaches developed in the economic literature: one based on the gap in employment rates across time for given mortality rates; the other using the work/health relationship measured at certain ages to predict the health-related work capacity of older age groups at the same period of time. Both methods aim at providing measures of additional work capacity. This capacity may be defined as a measure of the distance between current retirement ages and what we call the "health barrier", i.e. the age at which health prevents people from working longer. Both methods predict high average levels of additional work capacity. However, the picture becomes somewhat different when disaggregating the results by social groups or education. Our results emphasize the idea that policies aiming at activating any estimated additional work capacity should take into account, when possible, the heterogeneity of health conditions in the population. Moreover, additional work capacity cannot be a general indicator of how much seniors should work. The methods used here indeed leave aside many factors that determine the employment rate of older workers.

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    Compared to the predictions of exchange rate models with complete spanning in financial markets, actual exchange rates are puzzlingly smooth and only weakly correlated with macro-economic fundamentals. This paper derives an upper bound on the effects of incomplete spanning in international financial markets. We introduce stochastic wedges between the exchange rate's rate of appreciation and the difference between the marginal utility growth rates of the countries' stand-in investors without violating the foreign investors' Euler equations for the domestic risk-free assets. The wedges always lower the volatility of no-arbitrage exchange rates and can help to match the volatility of exchange rates in the data, provided that the wedges are as volatile as the maximum Sharpe ratio, but the wedges cannot deliver exchange rates that are uncorrelated with macro-fundamentals without largely eliminating currency risk premia.

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    Understanding whether labor market discrimination explains inferior labor market outcomes for many groups has drawn the attention of labor economists for decades - at least since the publication of Gary Becker's The Economics of Discrimination in 1957. The decades of research on discrimination in labor markets began with a regression-based "decomposition" approach, asking whether raw wage or earnings differences between groups - which might constitute prima facie evidence of discrimination - were in fact attributable to other productivity-related factors. Subsequent research - responding in large part to limitations of the regression-based approach - moved on to other approaches, such as testing direct predictions of the Becker model using data on discriminatory tastes, or using firm-level data to estimate both marginal productivity and wage differentials. In recent years, however, there has been substantial growth in experimental research on labor market discrimination - even though the earliest experiments were done decades ago. Some experimental research on labor market discrimination takes place in the lab. But far more of it is done in the field, which makes this particular area of experimental research unique relative to the explosion of experimental economic research more generally. This paper surveys the full range of experimental literature on labor market discrimination, places it in the context of the broader research literature on labor market discrimination, discusses the experimental literature from many different perspectives (empirical, theoretical, policy, and legal), and reviews what this literature has taught us thus far, and what remains to be done.

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    Economic policy uncertainty affects decisions of households, businesses, policy makers and Financial intermediaries. We first examine the impact of economic policy uncertainty on aggregate bank credit growth. Then we analyze commercial bank entity level data to gauge the effects of policy uncertainty on Financial intermediaries' lending. We exploit the cross-sectional heterogeneity to back out indirect evidence of its effects on businesses and households. We ask (i) whether, conditional on standard macroeconomic controls, economic policy uncertainty affected bank level credit growth, and (ii) whether there is variation in the impact related to banks' balance sheet conditions; that is, whether the effects are attributable to loan demand or, if impact varies with bank level financial constraints, loan supply. We find that policy uncertainty has a significant negative effect on bank credit growth. Since this impact varies meaningfully with some bank characteristics - particularly the overall capital-to-assets ratio and bank asset liquidity-loan supply factors at least partially (and significantly) help determine the influence of policy uncertainty. Because other studies have found important macroeconomic effects of bank lending growth on the macroeconomy, our findings are consistent with the possibility that high economic policy uncertainty may have slowed the U.S. economic recovery from the Great Recession by restraining overall credit growth through the bank lending channel.

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    We examine the term structure of interest rates in India to see if the yield curve can be rationalized based on the 'expectations hypothesis'. Although we find evidence of predictability for holding period returns, we reject the null hypothesis that the expectations hypothesis holds for the period under consideration. Contrary to the finding in the US, the volatility of Indian bond returns is consistent with the expectations hypothesis. Returns on long-term bonds are less volatile than those of short-term bonds. The volatility puzzle documented by Shiller on US data is not observed in Indian bond returns.

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    We use structural estimates of time preferences to customize incentives for a sample of polio vaccinators during a series of door-to-door immunization drives in Pakistan. Our investigation proceeds in three stages. First, we measure time preferences using intertemporal allocations of vaccinations. Second, we derive the mapping between these structural estimates and individually optimal incentives given a specific policy objective. Third, we experimentally evaluate the effect of matching contract terms to individual discounting patterns in a subsequent experiment with the same vaccinators. This exercise provides a test of the specific point predictions given by structural estimates of time preference. We document present bias among vaccinators and find that tailored contracts achieve the intended policy objective of smoothing intertemporal allocations of effort. The benefits of customized incentives in terms of achieving the policy objective are largest for vaccinators allocating when present bias is relevant to the decision.

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    Longevity is increasing and many people are spending a greater proportion of their lives reliant on pensions to support consumption. In response to this, several countries have mandated delays to age of first entitlement to pension benefits in order to reduce incentives to retire early. However, it is unknown to what extent older individuals have the health capacity to sustain the longer working lives that delayed pension benefits may encourage. We estimate the health capacity to work longer in Denmark by comparing how much older individuals work today with how much those with similar mortality rates worked in the past, and how much younger individuals today with similar self-assessed health work. We find substantial health capacity for longer working lives among those currently aged 55 and above. We also find significant heterogeneity by education and gender. Those with a high school degree have the greatest additional work capacity, women have more additional capacity than men, especially women with a college degree.

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    US government bonds are widely considered to be the world's safe store of value. US government bonds are a large fraction of safe asset portfolios, such as the porfolios of many central banks. The world demand for safe assets leads to low yields on US Treasury bonds. During periods of economic turmoil, such as the events of 2008, these yields fall even further. Moreover, despite the fact that US government debt has risen substantially relative to US GDP over the last decade, US government bond yields have not risen. What makes US government bonds "safe assets"? Our answer in short is that safe asset investors have nowhere else to go but invest in US government bonds.

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    Endogenous diversification in a market with incomplete information generates a state-dependent premium for bearing idiosyncratic risk because time series variation in average idiosyncratic risk affects the disutility of under-diversification. This idea delivers a metric that maps the marginal disutility of under-diversification to the covariance of idiosyncratic risk with average idiosyncratic risk. The metric helps explain the cross-section of returns in the US between 1973 and 2014, especially in periods of low average idiosyncratic risk. In such periods, portfolios tests generate intercepts from factor models that are economically large, and present in both small and large capitalization stocks. We observe similarly large intercepts in markets outside the US, particularly in large stocks.

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    In most of the developed world, skilled women marry at a lower rate than unskilled women. We document heterogeneity across countries in how the marriage gap for skilled women has evolved over time. As labor market opportunities for women have improved, the marriage gap has been growing in some countries but shrinking in others. We discuss a theoretical model in which the (negative) social attitudes towards working women might contribute towards the lower marriage rate of skilled women, and might also induce a non-linear relationship between their labor market prospects and their marriage outcomes. The model is suited to understand the dynamics of the marriage gap for skilled women over time within a country with set social attitudes towards working women. The model also delivers predictions about how the marriage gap for skilled women should react to changes in their labor market opportunities across countries with more or less conservative attitudes towards working women. We test the key predictions of this model in a panel of 23 developed countries, as well as in a panel of US states.

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    This article reviews the existing field experimentation literature on the prevalence of discrimination, the consequences of such discrimination, and possible approaches to undermine it. We highlight key gaps in the literature and ripe opportunities for future field work. Section 1 reviews the various experimental methods that have been employed to measure the prevalence of discrimination, most notably audit and correspondence studies; it also describes several other measurement tools commonly used in lab-based work that deserve greater consideration in field research. Section 2 provides an overview of the literature on the costs of being stereotyped or discriminated against, with a focus on self-expectancy effects and self-fulfilling prophecies; section 2 also discusses the thin field-based literature on the consequences of limited diversity in organizations and groups. The final section of the paper, Section 3, reviews the evidence for policies and interventions aimed at weakening discrimination, covering role model and intergroup contact effects, as well as socio-cognitive and technological de-biasing strategies.

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    This paper examines the impacts of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, a statewide college preparatory curriculum that applies to the high school graduating class of 2008 and later. We use a student, longitudinal database for all public school students in Michigan for the main analyses, and complement this with analyses from a state-year panel. The study employs several non-experimental approaches, including a comparative interrupted time series and a synthetic control method. Our analyses suggest that the higher expectations embodied in the MMC has had little impact on student outcomes. Looking at student performance on the ACT, the only clear evidence of a change in academic performance comes in science. Our best estimates indicate that ACT science scores improved by 0.2 points (or roughly 0.04 standard deviations) as a result of the MMC. Students who entered high school with the weakest academic preparation saw the largest improvement, gaining 0.35 points (0.15 standard deviations) on the ACT composite score and 0.73 points (0.22 standard deviations) on the ACT science score. Our estimates for high school completion are very sensitive to the sample and methodology used. Some analysis suggests a small negative impact on high school graduation for students who entered high school with the weakest academic preparation, but other analysis finds no such effect.

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    In this chapter we study dynamic incentive models in which risk sharing is endogenously limited by the presence of informational or enforcement frictions. We comprehensively overview one of the most important tools for the analysis such problems -- the theory of recursive contracts. Recursive formulations allow to reduce often complex models to a sequence of essentially static problems that are easier to analyze both analytically and computationally. We first provide a self-contained treatment of the basic theory: the Revelation Principle, formulating and simplifying the incentive constraints, using promised utilities as state variables, and analyzing models with persistent shocks using the first-order approach. We then discuss more advanced topics: duality theory and Lagrange multiplier techniques, models with lack of commitment, and martingale methods in continuous time. Finally, we show how a variety of applications in public economics, corporate finance, development and international economics featuring incomplete risk-sharing can be analyzed using the tools of the theory of recursive contracts.

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    ESMA is recruiting a Data Manager in the Risk Analysis and Economics Department, and an SNE for IT delegated projects. read more...

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