Macroannual Researcher Says Near-Zero Interest Rate
Blew Three Monetary Policy Theories Out of the Water

John H. Cochrane of Stanford University and the NBER (above) presented evidence and argument at the NBER's 32nd Annual Conference on Macroeconomics that the absence of three phenomena — a deflationary spiral, volatility, and hyperinflation — during the prolonged period in which U.S. interest rates were near the zero lower bound disproved some leading theories about effects of monetary policy. A video of his full presentation is on the conference web page.
New NBER Research

26 April 2017

What is a Patent Worth? Evidence from U.S. 'Lottery'

Using data on first-time applications filed at the U.S. Patent Office since 2001,Joan Farre-Mensa, Deepak Hegde, and Alexander Ljungqvist find that startups that win the patent “lottery” by drawing an examiner with a relatively high propensity to grant patents have, on average, 55 percent higher employment growth and 80 percent higher sales growth five years later.

25 April 2017

Annuity Options in Public Pension Plans:
The Curious Case of Social Security Leveling

A third of recent North Carolina public sector retirees who retired before they were eligible for Social Security benefits, and who selected a single life annuity, opted for “Social Security Leveling,” research by Robert L. Clark, Robert G. Hammond, Melinda S. Morrill, and David Vanderweide finds. This means that their total monthly income would not change when they began to receive Social Security. This behavior suggests a strong consumption smoothing motive.

24 April 2017

Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization?

The growth in political polarization in recent years is greatest in the demographic groups least likely to use the Internet and social media, Levi Boxell, Matthew Gentzkow, and Jesse M. Shapiro find. Increases in polarization are greater among those older than 75 than among those aged 18 to 39, suggesting that the Internet is not a primary driver of the phenomenon.
More Research

New in the NBER
Bulletin on Aging and Health

Taxes Are Work Disincentive for Older Americans

A study featured in the current edition of The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health Health finds that older U.S. workers face high marginal tax rates on their additional earnings, a disincentive to their working more. Other studies in this month’s issue include an examination of prospective payment systems in Medicare and commercial health insurance and a study of the relationship between improved health, domestic violence, and drug use.

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New in the NBER Digest

Future Earnings of College Majors Differ Substantially,
But So Do Costs of Training Engineers and Teachers

Engineers earn 30 percent more than teachers, but cost universities 44 percent more to produce. A study featured in the April edition of The NBER Digest explores issues that arise when differences in training costs of professionals are analyzed alongside differences in their future-earnings potential. Other studies summarized in this month's edition of the Digest document a trend among state-funded universities to admit foreign students whose high tuition payments help offset funding cuts, estimate savings from marketization of the U.S. electricity grid, evaluate impacts of the H-1B visa program, analyze what happened when a program that once brought hundreds of thousands of Mexican seasonal farm laborers to the U.S. was terminated in 1964, and gauge the production of patents and innovations by immigrants.

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New in the NBER Reporter

Research in the Program on Corporate Finance:
Changes in Emphasis and Methods since 2008 Crisis

The defining moment for corporate finance over the past decade has been the financial crisis of 2008. Since then, researchers in the NBER’s Program on Corporate Finance have explored the role of credit cycles, the fragility of financial institutions, the behavior of households, and the macroeconomic consequences of the crisis, sometimes employing new empirical tools. The program director describes the latest developments in The NBER Reporter. Also in the new edition of the quarterly, leading researchers summarize their work in behavioral economics, the dynamics of innovation, the impact of contracting out Medicare and Medicaid, and macroeconomic policy at the zero lower bound.

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