About me and this page
Welcome to my web page. Here you can find just about anything I've ever written.
The Contact information page has all the ways to contact me, media contact information, and few more pictures in different sizes.
The Research link will take you to all my academic writing, including published books, papers, working papers and comments. It includes comments and talks given at academic conferences. It also has information about my textbook, Asset Pricing
The News, Op-eds link takes you includes op-eds, blog posts, links to media coverage, slides and videos of talks, and other items of interest to the average non-academic.
I usually post slides of any talk I've given, so if there was some delicious graph you saw at a talk, you're likely to find it in the Research (for academic talks) or News (for other talks) links.
In December 2011 I started a blog with news and opeds and commentary.
Teaching takes you to class web pages. Students: these are the right web pages. Booth sometimes echoes old and out-of-date information to other sites. Visitors: you are welcome to use any of my materials that you find useful, so long as you cite their source. All: yes, the problem set answer links don't lead anywhere when I'm not teaching.
Data and Programs takes you to a webpage with data and programs for older papers. Starting 2011, I'm posting links to data and programs next to the paper on these pages, but I haven't yet cleaned up the old papers to that method.
If you're a sailplane pilot looking for Soaring writing, go to the soaring link. If you're an economist but flying gliders sounds a lot more interesting than whatever else brought you here, go ahead and take a look.
I'm a proud father and husband of a creative family. Check out the Family web page, with art, comics, animation, music, plus the famous Hippo pages. Warning: If you click this link you may not be back for an hour or two. My wife, Elizabeth Fama is a young adult book author, elizabethfama.com is her web page and blog, her latest books are Monstrous Beauty and Plus One. My daugher Sally's paintings and blog are worth a detour.
This is (July 2011) a big web site redesign. Please let me know about inevitable bugs, broken links, etc.
Academic articles and working papers
- The New-Keynesian Liquidity Trap Revised again again June 2016. (A big revision). matlab program. In standard solutions, new-Keynesian models produce a deep recession with deflation at the zero bound. Useless government spending, technical regress, and capital destruction have large positive multipliers. The recession, deflation and policy paradoxes are larger when prices are less sticky, and news has larger effects for events further in the future. These features are all artifacts of equilibrium selection. For the same interest-rate policy, equilibria that limit a downward jump of inflation on news of the trap, for the same interest rate policy, reverse all these predictions. They predict mild inflation, little output variation, and negative multipliers during the liquidity trap. Their predictions approach the frictionless model smoothly, and promises in the far-off future have less effect today. Fiscal theory of the price level suggests the equilibria with limited jumps and effects. The previous draft
- Macro-Finance. Update, July 28 2016. This is a review paper based on a talk I gave at the 2016 "Finance Down Under" Conference at the University of Melbourne. (Earlier drafts were titled "the Habit Habit" and "the Macro-Finance Habit." I'm trying to be more even handed.) I survey many current frameworks including habits, long run risks, idiosyncratic risks, heterogenous preferences, rare disasters, probability mistakes, and debt or institutional finance. I stress how all these approaches produce quite similar results and mechanisms: the market's ability to bear risk varies over time, with business cycles. I speculate with some simple models that time-varying risk premiums can produce a theory of risk-averse recessions, produced by varying risk aversion and precautionary saving, rather than Keynesian flow constraints or new-Keynesian intertemporal substitution. The slides for the talk.
- The Fragile Benefits of Endowment Destruction. November 2015. Journal of Political Economy 123(5) 1214-1226. With John Y. Campbell. (JSTOR / JPE Link.) A rejoinder to Ljungqvist and Uhlig "Comment on the Campbell-Cochrane Habit Model" (formerly titled "Optimal Endowment Destruction under Campbell-Cochrane Habit Formation"). The benefits of endowment destruction depend sensitively on how you discretize the model. Lesson: It's better to use the the continuous time version and make sure discretizations make sense. There is a nice lesson on how to extend diffusion models to jumps too. Computer program.
- Do Higher Interest Rates Raise or Lower Inflation? October 16 2015. The standard new-Keynesian model accounts well for the fact that inflation has been stable at a zero interest rate peg. However, If the Fed raises nominal interest rates, the same model model predicts that inflation will smoothly rise, both in the short run and long run. This paper presents a series of failed attempts to escape this prediction. Sticky prices, money, backward-looking Phillips curves, alternative equilibrium selection rules, and active Taylor rules do not convincingly overturn the result. The evidence for lower inflation is weak. Perhaps both theory and data are trying to tell us that, when conditions including adequate fiscal-monetary coordination operate, pegs can be stable and inflation responds positively to nominal interest rate increases. Programs (zip file, matlab.)
- A response to Sims (2013) January 2015. Chris Sims' (2013) "Paper Money" seems to include a criticism of my "Determinacy and Identification with Taylor Rules". In fact, there is essentially no fundamental disagreement between the two papers.
- A New Structure for U.S. Federal Debt November 2015 In David Wessel, Ed., The $13 Trillion Question: Managing the U.S. Government's Debt, pp. 91-146. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press. Last manuscript. I propose a restructuring of U. S. Federal debt. All debt should be perpetual, paying coupons forever with no principal payment. The debt should be composed of 1) Fixed-value, floating-rate, electronically transferable debt. Such debt looks like a money-market fund, or reserves at the Fed, to an investor. 2) Nominal perpetuities: This debt pays a coupon of $1 per bond, forever. 3) Indexed perpetuities: This debt pays a coupon of $1 times the current consumer price index (CPI). 4) All debt should be free of income, estate, capital gains, and other taxes. 5) long term debt should have explicitly variable coupons. 6) Swaps. The Treasury should adjust maturity structure, interest rate and inflation exposure of the Federal budget by transacting in simple swaps among these securities.
- Monetary Policy with Interest on Reserves Journal of Economic Dynamics & Control 49 (2014), 74–108 ( ScienceDirect link to published version, html and pdf) I analyze monetary policy with interest on reserves and a large balance sheet. I argue for the desirability of this regime on financial stability grounds. I show that conventional theories do not determine inflation in this regime, so I base the analysis on the fiscal theory of the price level. I find that monetary policy -- buying and selling government debt with no effect on surpluses -- can peg the nominal rate, and determine expected inflation. With sticky prices, monetary policy can also affect real interest rates and output, though not with the usual signs in this model. Figures 2 and 3 are the best part -- the effects of monetary policy with and without fiscal coordination. I address theoretical controversies, and how the fiscal backing of monetary policy was important for the 1980s disinflation. A concluding section reviews the role of central banks. Matlab program.
- Toward a run-free financial system. November 4 2014. In Martin Neil Baily, John B. Taylor, eds., Across the Great Divide: New Perspectives on the Financial Crisis, Hoover Press. This is an essay about what I think we should do in place of current financial regulation. We had a run, so get rid of run-prone liabilities. Technology and financial innovation means we can overcome the standard objections to "narrow banking." Some fun ideas include a tax on debt rather than capital ratios, the Fed and Treasury should issue reserves to everyone and take over short-term debt markets just as they took over the banknote market in the 19th century, and downstream fallible vechicles can tranche up bank equity.
- Challenges for Cost-Benefit Analysis of Financial Regulation. Journal of Legal Studies 43 S63-S105 (November 2014). Is cost benefit analysis a good idea for financial regulation? I survey the nature of costs and benefits of financial regulation and conclude that the legal process of current health, safety and environmental regulation can't be simply extended to financial regulation. I opine about how a successful cost-benefit process might work. My costs and benefits expanded to a rather critical survey of current financial regulation. It's based on a presentation I gave at a conference on this topic at the University of Chicago law school Fall 2013, with many interesting papers. JSTOR link with HTML and nicer pdf. The JLS issue with all conference papers.
- A mean-variance benchmark for intertemporal portfolio theory Journal of Finance, 69: 1–49. doi: 10.1111/jofi.12099 (February 2014) (link to JF) (Manuscript) Applies good old fashioned mean-variance portfolio analysis to the entire stream of dividends rather than to one-period returns. Long-Run Mean-Variance Analysis in a Diffusion Environment is a set of notes, detailing all the trouble you get in to if you try to apply long-run ideas to the standard iid lognormal environment, and also discusses shifting bliss points a bit.
Op-eds, blog posts, essays, articles, and other digestible writing
Note: I started a blog in January 2012, and don't echo the blog posts here.
- The Clinton Plan's Growth Deficit. Wall Street Journal, August 12 2016. Comments on the Hillary Clinton economic plan. See also the related blog post.
- Trade and Immigration July 2016. An uncompromising defense of free trade and immigration. For George P. Shultz, ed., Blueprint for America Hoover Institution Press, p. 109-125.
- A Blueprint for Effective Financial Reform July 2016. Equity-financed banking. How it works, and substitutes for the Dodd-Frank illusion that regulators can keep us safe. This is the paper behind the talk, next item. In George P. Shultz, ed., Blueprint for America Hoover Institution Press, p. 71 - 84.
- Equity-financed banking and a run-free financial system Talk given at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve's "Ending too big to fail" symposium, May 16 2016.
- Ending America's Slow-Growth Tailspin May 3 2016 WSJ oped. I try to quantify how much growth we could get out of better policy by regressing GDP per capita on the World bank's ease of doing business measure. The answer: a lot. Local pdf. Programs and data for the graph. (zip file)
- How and Why we Care About Inequality Nov. 2015. in Inequality and Economic Policy: Essays in Memory of Gary Becker, Tom Church, John B. Taylor, and Christopher Miller Eds., Stanford, CA: Hoover Press.
- Economic Growth. October 2015. Essay. An overview of what a growth-oriented policy program might look like. Regulation, finance, health, energy and environment, taxes, debt social security and medicare, social programs, labor law, immigration, education, and more. Written for the Focusing the presidential debates initiative. Published in John Norton Moore, ed., The Presidential Debates Carolina Academic Press 2016. p. 65-90.
- After the ACA: Freeing the market for health care Sept 2015 In The Future of Healthcare Reform in the United States Edited by Anup Malani and Michael H. Schill, p 161-201, University of Chicago Press. An essay on health care, first presented at the conference, The Future of Health Care Reform in the United States, at the University of Chicago Law School. Most of the policy discussion is focused on health insurance. But the health care market is dysfuctional, and needs to be fixed as well. Where are the Southwest Airlines, Walmart and Apple of health care, bringing cost saving, efficiency, and innovation? I argue that we need a big freeing up of health care markets. I also focus more than usual on supply restrictions. It doesn't do much good for people to pay with their own money if suppliers cannot respond to that demand. Last manuscript in case of copyright problems with the published version above.
- The Fed Needn't rush to 'Normalize' Wall Street Journal September 16 2015. Zero rates and zero inflation are pretty good. local pdf
- Greece's Ills Require a Banking Fix. Wall Street Journal, Aug 4 2015. A currency union need open banks not banks stuffed with dodgy sovereign debts. With Andy Atkeson. local pdf.
- The Rule of Law in the Regulatory State June 2015. An essay for the Hoover Institution Magna Carta conference. The regulatory agencies are now the threat to rule of law and your freedom to dissent and support unpopular candidates and causes. Excerpt published as The New Tyranny: How the Regulatory State Threatens Your Freedom in The Insider Fall 2015 pp. 5-13. (local copy.)
- An Autopsy for the Keynesians December 22 2014. Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. A bit of a response to all the opeds and bloggers claiming that ISLM explains everything and is taking over in the tide of ideas
- What the Inequality warriors really want. Wall Street Journal, November 19 2014. A review of the arguments for punitive 1% taxes.
- Who's Afraid of a Little Deflation Wall Street Journal, November 14 2014. Fears of "tipping" into deflation are overblown. I poke a little fun at sticky wages, Fed headroom, deflation-induced defaults and the long-predicted Keynesian deflationary spiral that never seems to happen, and the doom and gloom language from the ECB, IMF and other worriers who just happen to (of course) want to spend trillions to fix this latest "biggest economic problem."
- A few things the Fed has done right, Wall Street Journal August 21, 2014.
- Ideas for Renewing American Prosperity July 4 2014 Wall Street Journal. Local copy. Limit Government and Restore the Rule of Law.
- The Failure of Macroeconomics June 8 2014 Wall Street Journal. local copy. A review of alternative theories of slow growth.
European debt crisis
Current economic situation and policy
Financial crisis, Financial rgulation
Monetary policy; inflation, deficits, fiscal theory
General economics, philosophical debates
Academic Talks and Comments
- Stepping on a Rake: Replication and Diagnosis Augst 2016. A replication of Chris Sims's "stepping on a rake" paper. I also boil it down to the central ingredient, showing how even frictionless fiscal theory can deliver temporarily lower inflation after an interest rate rise. The replication is useful if you want to know how Sims derived his model or solved it; also useful as a guide to solving continuous-time sticky-price models with jumps. Previously titled "How to step on a rake." matlab program archive
- Michelson-Morley, Occam and Fisher: The radical implications of stable inflation at the zero bound Slides for talk at the European Financial Association, August 2016. This will become a paper sometime in the fall. It's an evolution of the similar slides for my talk given at the Columbia-New York Fed conference honoring Michael Woodford May 18-19 2016. The ZLB is a deeply revealing moment for monetary economics, like Michelson-Morley's famous experiment. Nothing happened. Many theories say big things should have happened, and those theories are wrong. (Well, unless you add epicycles, ether drag, or other ugly complications. Hence Occam's razor.) In the new version I incorporate Sims' insight for how to get a temporary negative inflation out of a rate rise. In the same vein slides for a 1.5 hour MBA class covering all of monetary economics from Friedman, Sargent-Wallace, Taylor, Woodford, and FTPL.
- Comments on 'Global Imbalances and Currency Wars at the ZLB,' by Ricardo J. Caballero, Emmanuel Farhi, and Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas. Comments presented at the conference, "International Monetary Stability: Past, Present and Future," Hoover Institution, May 5 2016. The paper. The paper models "Global imbalances," "savings gluts," "safe asset shortages," and so forth, with a dramatic "tipping point" at the zero bound. At the bound "inability to produce safe assets" in one country spills over to output gaps at another one. I outline a different world view and contrast the two worlds.
- Comments on "How Can Central Banks Deliver Credible Commitment and be 'Emergency Institutions'" By Paul Tucker. In John H. Cochrane and John B. Taylor, Eds., Central Bank Governance and Oversight Reform, Hoover Institution Press May 2016, p. 31-36. (Chapter pdfs available here) Comments presented at the Hoover conference by the same name, May 21, 2015. Tucker's paper here. Tucker wisely advocates rules for mop ups, lender of last resort, bailouts, etc. I agree, but wouldn't lots more equity so you don't have to mop up be simpler?
- The fiscal theory of the price level and monetary policy: An agenda April 1, 2016. Slides for a talk at the Next Steps for the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level conference at the Becker-Friedman Institute, April 1 2016. The Fiscal Theory is that the real value of nominal debt equals the present value of primary surpluses. The agenda is making this fact come alive in the analysis of history, of data, of policy, and of better monetary and fiscal regimes. To that end, I argue we've paid to much attention to surpluses, and not enough to discount rates or to debt and monetary policy. I show how we need discount rates to understand the cyclical variation of inflation, and how monetary policy is quite strong in the fiscal theory, by the ability to control nominal interest rates and thus expected inflation.
- Comments on Bauer and Hamilton. Nov 5 2015. Comments on Robust Bond Risk Premia by Michael Bauer and Jim Hamilton, at the 5th Conference on Fixed Income Markets, San Francisco Federal Reserve, Nov 5 2015. I look at the evidence whether macro variables help to forecast bond returns. It turns out a trend does even better, pushing the R2 up to 62 percent! That finding suggests that specification issues rather than distribution theory are the central problems. I don't find that the Bauer-Hamilton effect size distortion is big. I document measurement errors in the data, which are a good target for econometric help. I opine we need to spend less attention on one asset at at time forecasting and more attention on the factor structure of expected returns across assets, and how that structure lines up with covariances of returns with shocks. There is also a little example of perfect non-spanning in a term structure model; bond yields have an exact one factor model, but a non-spanned factor drives expected returns. Programs and data (zip)
- Comments on Gary Hansen and Lee Ohanian, "Neoclassical Models of Aggregate Economies" at the Conference on the Handbook of Macroeconomics, Volume 2, Hoover Institution, April 11 2015.
- Comments on Gauti Eggertsson and Neil Mehrotra, "A Model of Secular Stagnation," slides presented at the NBER EFG meeting, July 2014.
- Comments on Aytek Malkhozov, Philippe Mueller, Andrea Vedolin, and Gyuri Venter, "Mortgage Risk and the Yield Curve," slides presented at the NBER AP meeting, July 2014.
More talks and comments in Research talks and comments. ...
News, TV, Radio, other media
- Stelldichein mit dem «Muffel» May 2014 Interview in Neue Züricher Zeitung, on occasion of receiving an honorary degree from the University of St. Gallen. In german, but google translate does a decent job.
- Education and MOOCs. Interview with Russ Roberts on EconTalk podcast. March 31 2014
- The future of global finance. Video interview with Jeff Garten at Yale SOM, February 2014, broadly covering financial markets and regulation. Part of a series by the same name.
- The debt dialogues Podcast interview on free market health care with Don Watkins at the Ayn Rand Institute, March 25 2014.
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