NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Scott R. Baker

Northwestern University
Kellogg School of Management
Suite 4394
2211 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2017Shopping for Lower Sales Tax Rates
with Stephanie Johnson, Lorenz Kueng: w23665
Using comprehensive high-frequency state and local sales tax data, we show that household spending responds strongly to changes in sales tax rates. Even though sales taxes are not observed in posted prices and have a wide range of rates and exemptions, households adjust in many dimensions, stocking up on storable goods before taxes rise and increasing online and cross-border shopping. Interestingly, households adjust spending similarly for both taxable and tax-exempt goods. We embed an inventory problem into a continuous-time consumption-savings model and demonstrate that this seemingly irrational behavior is optimal in the presence of shopping trip fixed costs. The model successfully matches estimated short-run and long-run tax elasticities with a reasonable implied reservation wage of $7...
October 2015Measuring Economic Policy Uncertainty
with Nicholas Bloom, Steven J. Davis: w21633
We develop a new index of economic policy uncertainty (EPU) based on newspaper coverage frequency. Several types of evidence – including human readings of 12,000 newspaper articles – indicate that our index proxies for movements in policy-related economic uncertainty. Our US index spikes near tight presidential elections, Gulf Wars I and II, the 9/11 attacks, the failure of Lehman Brothers, the 2011 debt-ceiling dispute and other major battles over fiscal policy. Using firm-level data, we find that policy uncertainty raises stock price volatility and reduces investment and employment in policy-sensitive sectors like defense, healthcare, and infrastructure construction. At the macro level, policy uncertainty innovations foreshadow declines in investment, output, and employment in the United...

Published: Scott R. Baker, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis. 2016. "Measuring Economic Policy Uncertainty." Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol 131(4), pages 1593-1636. citation courtesy of

January 2014Why Has U.S. Policy Uncertainty Risen Since 1960?
with Nicholas Bloom, Brandice Canes-Wrone, Steven J. Davis, Jonathan A. Rodden: w19826
There appears to be a strong upward drift in policy-related economic uncertainty after 1960. We consider two classes of explanations for this rise. The first stresses growth in government spending, taxes, and regulation. A second stresses increased political polarization and its implications for the policy-making process and policy choices. While the evidence is inconclusive, it suggests that both factors play a role in driving the secular increase in policy uncertainty over the last half century.

Published: Scott R. Baker & Nicholas Bloom & Brandice Canes-Wrone & Steven J. Davis & Jonathan Rodden, 2014. "Why Has US Policy Uncertainty Risen since 1960?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 56-60, May. citation courtesy of

September 2013Does Uncertainty Reduce Growth? Using Disasters as Natural Experiments
with Nicholas Bloom: w19475
A growing body of evidence suggests that uncertainty is counter cyclical, rising sharply in recessions and falling in booms. But what is the causal relationship between uncertainty and growth? To identify this we construct cross country panel data on stock market levels and volatility as proxies for the first and second moments of business conditions. We then use natural disasters, terrorist attacks and unexpected political shocks as instruments for our stock market proxies of first and second moment shocks. We find that both the first and second moments are highly significant in explaining GDP growth, with second moment shocks accounting for at least a half of the variation in growth. Variations in higher moments of stock market returns appear to have little impact on growth.
 
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