The price of risk for a shock depends on its dynamic effects on the economy. We derive the relationship between risk prices and dynamic impacts in a range of theoretical models and also estimate it empirically.
In many affine asset pricing models, the innovation to the pricing kernel is a function of innovations to current and expected future values of an economic state variable, often consumption growth, aggregate market returns, or short-term interest rates. The impulse response of the priced state variable to various shocks has a frequency (Fourier) decomposition, and we show that the price of risk for a given shock can be represented as a weighted integral over that spectral decomposition. In terms of consumption growth, Epstein–Zin preferences imply that the weight of the pricing kernel lies largely at low frequencies, while internal habit-formation models imply that the weight is shifted to high frequencies. We estimate spectral weighting functions for the equity market semi-parametrically and find that they place most of their weight at low frequencies, consistent with Epstein–Zin preferences. For Treasuries, we find that investors view increases in interest rates at low frequencies and decreases at business-cycle frequencies negatively.
High-frequency shocks to market volatility have negative risk prices and low-frequency shocks have positive risk prices. Epstein-Zin preferences predict the opposite.
I estimate the long-run variance of consumption growth to help calibrate models. It is large, but still much smaller than what is assumed in most long-run risk work.
This paper provides a comprehensive survey on six aspects of rising inequality: changes in labor's share, inequality at the bottom, inequality at the top, labor mobility, inequality in consumption as contrasted to inequality of income, and international differences in inequality, particularly at the top. Outside the scope of this paper are changes in the rate of return to higher education, the evolution of the college wage premium, and the mechanisms by which family human capital is transmitted to infants and children. We conclude that changes in labor's share play no role in rising inequality of labor income; by one measure labor's income share was almost the same in mid-2007 as in 1950. Within the bottom 90 percent as documented by CPS data, movements in the 50-10 ratio are consistent with a role of decreased union density for men and of a decrease in the real minimum wage for women, particularly in 1980-86. There is little evidence on the effects of imports, and an ambiguous literature on immigration which implies a small overall impact on the wages of the average native American, a significant downward effect on high-school dropouts, and potentially a large impact on previous immigrants working in occupations in which immigrants specialize.
The literature on skill-biased technical change (SBTC) has been valuably enriched by a finer grid of skills, switching from a two-dimension to a three- or five-dimensional breakdown of skills. We endorse the three-way "polarization" hypothesis that seems a plausible way of explaining differentials in wage changes and also in outsourcing.
To explain increased skewness at the top, we introduce a three-way distinction between market-driven superstars where audience magnification allows a performance to reach one or ten million people, a second market-driven segment consisting of occupations like lawyers and investment bankers, and a third segment consisting of top corporate officers. Our review of the CEO debate places equal emphasis on the market in showering capital gains through stock options and an arbitrary management power hypothesis based on numerous non-market aspects of executive pay.
The paper concludes that data on consumption inequality are too fragile to reach firm conclusions, and a perspective on international differences that blends institutional and market-driven explanations.
A basic tenet of economic science is that productivity growth is the source of growth in real income per capita. But our results raise doubts by creating a direct link between macro productivity growth and the micro evolution of the income distribution. We show that over the entire period 1966-2001, as well as over 1997-2001, only the top 10 percent of the income distribution enjoyed a growth rate of real wage and salary income equal to or above the average rate of economy-wide productivity growth. Growth in median real wage and salary income barely grew at all while average wage and salary income kept pace with productivity growth, because half of the income gains went to the top 10 percent of the income distribution, leaving little left over for the bottom 90 percent. Half of this inequality effect is attributable to gains of the 90th percentile over the 10th percentile; the other half is due to increased skewness within the top 10 percent.
In addition to its micro analysis, this paper also asks whether faster productivity growth reduces inflation, raises nominal wage growth, or raises profits. We find that an acceleration or deceleration of the productivity growth trend alters the inflation rate by at least one-for-one in the opposite direction. This paper revives research on wage adjustment and produces a dynamic interactive model of price and wage adjustment that explains movements of labor's share of income.
What caused rising income inequality? Economists have placed too much emphasis on "skill-biased technical change" and too little attention to the sources of increased skewness at the very top, within the top 1 percent of the income distribution. We distinguish two complementary explanations, the "economics of superstars," i.e., the pure rents earned by sports and entertainment stars, and the escalating compensation premia of CEOs and other top corporate officers. These sources of divergence at the top, combined with the role of deunionization, immigration, and free trade in pushing down incomes at the bottom, have led to the wide divergence between the growth rates of productivity, average compensation, and median compensation.
When long-term interest rates are high relative to short-term rates, physical investment shifts towards short-term projects.
Throughout the postwar era until 1995 labor productivity grew faster in Europe than in the United States. But since 1995, productivity growth in the EU-15 has slowed while that in the United States has accelerated. But Europe’s productivity growth slowdown was largely offset by faster growth in employment per capita, leaving little difference in growth of output per capita between the EU and US going back to 1980. This paper is about the strong negative tradeoff between productivity and employment growth. We document this tradeoff in the raw data, in regressions that control for the two-way causation between productivity and employment growth, and we show that there is a robust negative correlation between productivity and employment growth not only across countries and time, but also across countries and industries.
We simplify the task of explaining intra-EU differences in the performance by reducing the dimensionality of the issue from the 15 EU countries to four EU country groups, chosen by geography. We provide a comprehensive analysis of the role of policy and institutional variables in causing changes in productivity and employment per capita growth across these country groups. Using both a calibrated theoretical model and several reduced-form regressions, we document the strong effects of European policies that raised labour costs, such as the tax wedge, employment and product market regulation, unemployment compensation, and union density, in causing employment to fall and productivity to rise before 1995, and for this process to be reversed after 1995.
Our paper concludes with policy implications, and we propose a new framework for thinking about EU policy reforms. The strong evidence that we find for a productivity-employment growth tradeoff, across countries, time, and industries, changes the questions that European policymakers should be asking. They should no longer ask how they should boost productivity growth or raise employment growth. Most policies will push productivity and employment in opposite directions, and we have shown that these offsetting effects make the effects of policies on growth in output per capita ambiguous. Our new policy framework suggests that policy changes be assessed as much on their effects on government budgets as on productivity or employment, since the productivity-employment tradeoff causes some policy changes to have a negligible effect on growth in output per capita.
I review the history of executive compensation disclosure and other government policies affecting CEO pay. In so doing, I also review the literature on the effects of these policies. Disclosure has increased nearly uniformly since 1933. A number of other regulations, including special taxes on CEO pay and rules regarding votes on some pay packages have also been introduced, particularly in the last 20 years. However, there is little solid evidence that any of these policies have had any substantial impact on pay. We can conclude that policy changes have helped drive the move towards more use of stock options, but there is no conclusive evidence on how policy has affected the level or composition of pay otherwise. I also review evidence from overseas on "Say on Pay," recently proposed in the US, which would allow nonbinding shareholder votes on CEO compensation. The experiences of other countries have been positive, with tighter linkages between pay and performance and improved communication with investors. Mandatory say on pay would be beneficial in the US.
Only the top 10% of US earners have seen their incomes grow faster than productivity since 1966. Part of the top-earner income growth is driven by market forces (superstar economics); the only feasible pro-equality policy here is more progressive taxation. For top corporate executives, however, non-market forces (CEO-Board complicity in pay setting) are important, so other policies are warranted. Increased disclosure and improved corporate governance would distribute economic gains more evenly across society and boost firms’ value.
Europe’s jobs outlook has brightened over the past decade. Recent research suggests that about half the rise in job creation is due to labour market reforms, but much of the rest is due to changing social norms concerning female and immigrant labour force participation. But what’s good for European job creation seems to be bad for labour productivity growth – a trade-off that European policymakers must be willing to acknowledge and address.