Essays on nominal rigidities, bounded rationality, and macroeconomic policy
Author(s)Petri Castro, Mikel.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Economics.
Iván Werning and Daron Acemoglu.
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This thesis consists of three chapters about macroeconomic policy. In the first chapter, I study the empirical relationship between nominal rigidities and the real effects of monetary policy. Nominal rigidities lie at the core of macroeconomics. The empirical evidence suggests that prices and wages adjust sluggishly to aggregate shocks, while theoretical models justify why and to what extent these rigidities imply monetary non-neutrality. However, direct evidence on nominal rigidities being the actual channel for the transmission of these shocks is relatively scarce. I construct a highly disaggregated measure of regional price stickiness for the U.S. and use it to provide evidence of this channel. My results are in line with sticky price models, indicating that employment in more rigid industries and commuting zones tend to have stronger reactions to monetary policy shocks.In the second chapter, joint with Emmanuel Farhi and Iván Werning, we document the extreme sensitivity of New Keynesian models to fiscal policy announcements during a liquidity trap--a phenomenon we call the "fiscal multiplier puzzle". The response of current output to government spending grows exponentially in the horizon of the stimulus. Surprisingly, the introduction of rule-of-thumb hand-to-mouth agents, combined with deficit-financed stimulus, can easily generate negative multipliers that are equally explosive. This intuition translates to incomplete markets heterogeneous-agent New Keynesian models, leading to large negative multipliers when taxes are backloaded. We construct a belief-augmented New Keynesian framework to understand the role played by expectations in shaping the fiscal multiplier puzzle. The key element behind this result is the extreme coordination of the demand and supply blocks under rational expectations.Common knowledge between these two blocks induces an inflation-spending feedback loop. Government spending boosts aggregate demand and drives up inflation, which in turn leads to lower real rates and higher spending by households, increasing aggregate demand again. We break this strategic complementarity by introducing bounded rationality in the form of level-k thinking. In contrast to rational expectations, level-k multipliers are bounded and tend to zero over infinite horizons for all finite k. Moreover, level-k interacts strongly with incomplete markets in two different ways. First, the attenuation of the multipliers increases for any level of k on the degree of market incompleteness, especially in the future. Second, in contrast to complete markets, incomplete markets increase the magnitude of the multipliers for low levels of k when taxes are backloaded, making deficits more effective at stimulating the economy.In the third chapter, I explore the implications of downward nominal wage rigidities for fiscal policy and inflation in a liquidity trap. The standard Phillips Curve predicts big declines in economic activity should be accompanied by big deflation episodes. I study whether downward nominal wage rigidity can explain the missing deflation during the Great Recession. To do so, I introduce wage rigidity in a standard cash-in-advance liquidity trap model. My results show that nominal wage rigidities are consistent with mild deflationary episodes only when the trap is expected to be very short-lived. Away from this case, the model predicts large deflations and drops in output as in standard New Keynesian models. I also study the impact of fiscal policy in my setup, finding large multipliers that increase with the degree of wage rigidity. The main reason behind the effectiveness of government spending is its persistent effects on economic activity.Wage rigidity generates unemployment persistence due to pent-up wage deflation. Fiscal spending boosts aggregate demand and decreases deflationary pressures today. This increases output today and in the future by relaxing the downward wage rigidity constraint in all subsequent periods. Keywords: nominal rigidities, price stickiness, monetary policy, regional, bounded rationality, incomplete markets, level-k, fiscal policy, downward nominal wage rigidity. JEL Classification: E52, E62, E7.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Economics, September, 2020Cataloged from student-submitted PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 139-144).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology