New NBER Research
13 March 2014
Eli Berman, Michael Callen, Clark Gibson, and James Long investigate the effect of reducing election fraud on voter perceptions of government legitimacy. They study an experiment involving randomly-assigned interventions that reduced vote fraud in Afghanistan. Increasing the integrity of elections is associated with an increase in the fraction of the local population that believes the police should resolve disputes, that believes their country is a democracy, and that would be prepared to report insurgent behavior to security forces.
12 March 2014
Sumit Agarwal and Itzhak Ben-David report the findings of a controlled experiment within a firm in which the compensation structure for loan officers was shifted from a fixed salary to volume-based pay. The "commission" structure raised origination rates, loan size, and default rates.
11 March 2014
John Graham, Mark Leary, and Michael Roberts document a tripling of aggregate leverage for unregulated U.S. corporations between 1945 and 1970. In 1946, the median firm had no debt, but by 1970 its leverage ratio was 31 percent. Changes in firm characteristics cannot explain this increase; the authors suggest that changes in government borrowing, macroeconomic uncertainty, and changes in the financial sector contributed to it.
10 March 2014
Ralph Koijen, Tobias Moskowitz, Lasse Pedersen, and Evert Vrugt examine the performance of a broad class of investment strategies known as “carry trades.” These strategies buy assets with a high return exclusive of any capital gains or losses, and short-sell those with low such returns. Buying a high-yield bond and selling short a low-yield one is an example of such a strategy. The study finds that a positive “carry” predicts total returns for a wide range of asset classes, but that during global recessions, “carry”-based strategies perform poorly.
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7 March 2014
Tom Chang, Joshua Graff Zivin, Tal Gross, and Matthew Neidell study the productivity of indoor workers at a pear-packing factory as the level of outdoor air pollution varies. They find that an increase in the concentration of fine particulate matter is associated with a statistically and economically significant decrease in packing speeds inside the factory, with effects arising at levels well below current air quality standards.
6 March 2014
Dirk Czarnitzki, Bronwyn Hall, and Hanna Hottenrott find that a successful patent application improves access to financial capital for small firms, but they do not detect any effect for larger firms that already have well-developed financial ties.
5 March 2014
Dennis Novy and Alan Taylor find that imports are more volatile than domestic economic activity using monthly data since 1962. They attribute this to a sharp decline in the demand for inventory of intermediate goods on the part of domestic firms when U.S. economic activity slows.
4 March 2014
James Poterba finds substantial heterogeneity in the health and economic circumstances of elderly U.S. households and explores the implications of these differences for the provision of retirement security as the U.S. population ages in the next four decades. Between 2014 and 2050 the percentage of the population over the age of 65 will rise by seven percentage points, and the percent over 85 will double from its current level.
3 March 2014
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Emiliano Luttini, and Bent Sørensen study output fluctuations in European nations over the 1990-2010 period, and conclude that fiscal austerity programs during the recent sovereign debt crisis reduced the degree of international risk sharing.
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