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AN NBER PUBLICATION ISSUE: No. 9, September 2008

The Digest

A free monthly publication featuring non-technical summaries of research on topics of broad public interest
Only 16 percent of price variation is common across all stores selling an identical product, while 65 percent of price variation is common to stores within a particular retail chain (but not across chains), and 17 percent of variation is completely idiosyncratic to the individual store and product. Recent research shows that retail prices vary enormously over short time periods -- within a year, the price of a typical grocery product can vary by 20-30 percent. These...

Research Summaries

The longer customers have had their money in a bank, the less likely they are to join the stampede to withdraw their funds. The image of long queues of agitated customers clamoring to withdraw their deposits from failing banks traditionally has been associated with the Great Depression - that is, until the very recent bank runs in the United States (Countrywide, IndyMac), Britain (Northern Rock), and India (ICICI Bank). In their timely study, Understanding Bank Runs...
The principal problem [with] the market for real estate derivatives, [is] liquidity, institutional investors, observed relatively large bid-ask spreads and only small positions offered. The near absence of derivatives markets for real estate, particularly single-family homes, is a striking anomaly that cries out for explanation, according to NBER Research Associate Robert Shiller. In the United States alone, the value of real estate held by households is...
The majority of the increase in the duration of unemployment that is caused by UI benefits actually is attributable to the liquidity effect, which he links to cash on hand at the time of job loss, rather than to the net wage effect. One of the classic findings in public finance is that generous unemployment insurance (UI) benefits reduce labor supplied by those who are eligible for these benefits. Traditionally, this finding has been interpreted as evidence that UI...

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