Jacob Robbins

Department of Economics
Brown University
64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02906

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2018Kaldor and Piketty’s Facts: The Rise of Monopoly Power in the United States
with Gauti B. Eggertsson, Ella Getz Wold: w24287
The macroeconomic data of the last thirty years has overturned at least two of Kaldor’s famous stylized growth facts: constant interest rates, and a constant labor share. At the same time, the research of Piketty and others has introduced several new and surprising facts: an increase in the financial wealth-to-output ratio in the US, an increase in measured Tobin’s Q, and a divergence between the marginal and the average return on capital. In this paper, we argue that these trends can be explained by an increase in market power and pure profits in the US economy, i.e., the emergence of a non-zero-rent economy, along with forces that have led to a persistent long term decline in real interest rates. We make three parsimonious modifications to the standard neoclassical model to explain these...
January 2017A Model of Secular Stagnation: Theory and Quantitative Evaluation
with Gauti B. Eggertsson, Neil R. Mehrotra: w23093
This paper formalizes and quantifies the secular stagnation hypothesis, defined as a persistently low or negative natural rate of interest leading to a chronically binding zero lower bound (ZLB). Output-inflation dynamics and policy prescriptions are fundamentally different from those in the standard New Keynesian framework. Using a 56-period quantitative life cycle model, a standard calibration to US data delivers a natural rate ranging from –1:5% to –2%, implying an elevated risk of ZLB episodes for the foreseeable future. We decompose the contribution of demographic and technological factors to the decline in interest rates since 1970 and quantify changes required to restore higher rates.
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