Monday, September 29, 2014

What caught my eye

1. Labor under-utilization: We keep thinking, long and hard, about how much slack there is in the job market. Gavyn Davies brings our attention to a timely conference put on by the Peterson Institute. The "consensus" --at least as gauged by Davies-- is that the unemployment rate in the U.S. under-represents the true amount of slack, due to the effect of the participation gap and involuntary part-time employment. Moreover, because of long-term unemployment and the potential rise of productivity growth, a decline of labor slack need not be as inflationary as it normally would. Everybody, however, acknowledges the "great uncertainty" around these assessments.

The Peterson Institute has posted the videos and ppt files of all the conference presentations here.

2. "Grapho-tainment": Twenty-two maps and charts that will surprise you, by I love these: #1, #3, #7, #10, #15, #17, and #19.

3. Speech by Vítor Constâncio, vice-president of the ECB, on "understanding the yield curve." I liked this [emphasis mine]:
Moreover, high sovereign spreads in the euro area have raised the question of what is the appropriate yield curve to monitor. In an article in the July Monthly Bulletin we discussed this issue in the context of measuring the euro area risk-free rate. Should we use Bund yields, euro area average AAA rates or OIS rates, or does it depend on the matter at hand?

Incidentally, an intriguing question in a currency union is the following: if it is difficult to identify a risk-free rate in a currency union, this means that there is no risk-free asset either, besides the central bank's own liabilities, the currency
4. David Keohane at FTAlphaville shares a report by HSBC, on the uneven conditions for growth across states in India.

5. From this week's batch of NBER working papers [emphasis mine]:
We employ a model of precautionary saving to study why household saving rates are so high in China and so low in the US. The use of recursive preferences gives a convenient decomposition of saving into precautionary and non precautionary components. This decomposition indicates that over 80 percent of China’s saving rate and nearly all of the US saving arises from the precautionary motive. The difference in the income growth rate between China and the US is vastly more important for explaining saving rate differences than differences in income risk. We estimate the preference parameters and find that Chinese and US households are more similar in their attitude toward risk than in their intertemporal substitutability of consumption.
I find the statement in bold very, very hard to believe, given this.

The paper is by Horag Choi, Steven Lugauer, and Nelson Mark, and here's an ungated version.

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