The Rate of Return on Everything, 1870 – 2015 (with Òscar Jordà, Katharina Knoll, Moritz Schularick, and Alan M. Taylor)
Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2019, Vol. 134 (3), pp. 1225–1298
[VOX column] [NBER WP] [Data] [Replication Files]
Media: Economist, Financial Times, FT Alphaville, Bloomberg View, Quartz, Washington Post, FAZ
What is the aggregate real rate of return in the economy? Is it higher than the growth rate of the economy and, if so, by how much? Is there a tendency for returns to fall in the long-run? Which particular assets have the highest long-run returns? We answer these questions on the basis of a new and comprehensive dataset for all major asset classes, including housing. The annual data on total returns for equity, housing, bonds, and bills cover 16 advanced economies from 1870 to 2015, and our new evidence reveals many new findings and puzzles.
Sovereigns Going Bust: Estimating the Cost of Default (with Kaspar Zimmermann)
European Economic Review, 2019, Vol. 119, pp. 1-21.
[Working paper] [Default Dataset] [Replication Files]
What is the cost of sovereign default, and what makes default costly? This paper uses a novel econometric method – combining local projections and propensity score weighting as in Jordà and Taylor (2016) – to study these questions. We find that default generates a long-lasting output cost – 2.7% of GDP on impact and 3.7% at peak after five years – but in the longer term, economic activity recovers. The downturn is characterised by a collapse in investment and gross trade. The cost rises dramatically if the default is followed by a systemic banking crisis – peaking at some 9.5% of GDP – but is attenuated for economies with floating exchange rates. Our findings suggest that financial autarky, trade frictions and sovereign-banking spillovers play a key role in generating the cost of default.
During the post-crisis period, economic performance has been highly heterogenous across the euro area. While some economies rebounded quickly after the 2009 output collapse, others are undergoing a protracted further decline as part of an extensive deleveraging process. At the same time, inflation has been subdued throughout the whole of the euro area and intra-euro-area exchange rates have hardly moved. We interpret these facts through the lens of a two-country model of a currency union. We find that deleveraging in one country generates deflationary spillovers which cannot be contained by monetary policy, as it becomes constrained by the zero lower bound. As a result, the real exchange rate response becomes muted, and the output collapse—concentrated in the deleveraging economies.