2011 Working Papers (AU-CAS-ECON)

Antidumping as a Development Issue
"This paper attempts to stimulate discussion about antidumping policy among development economists, who have largely ignored the topic; evaluating trade policy by developing economies without considering antidumping is incomplete and ignores the extent to which it may be substitutable for other methods of trade protection. Antidumping has become truly a “problem” of development. Despite some debate on the role of international openness in determining economic performance, there is little research on how the use of particular trade policy mechanisms affects either trade openness or economic performance. In what follows we examine the role of developing countries in antidumping, with particular focus on which countries employ this instrument of protection, and which countries are heavily targeted; we also note those countries which are targeted but do not respond in kind."
Contributions of Economists to the Housing-Price Bubble
After the bursting of the housing-price bubble in 2006 and ensuing financial crisis, there has been much discussion of what economists could have done differently to help avert the crisis and „Great Recession‟ that followed. One dimension of this concerns information supplied by economists to the general public about causes of high appreciation in home prices and their likely future course, as good information could have helped the public hedge their finances against downside risks while bad information may have encouraged them to take on too much risk. This paper analyzes data from 24 California newspapers on assessments and predictions offered by economists as to whether bubbles were forming in the state‟s housing markets. In brief, we find that the California public was fairly decently served by economists offering their views via the media -- although with some significant problems of biased forecasts not made in good faith, and of inattention to concerns about „harm avoidance‟ that ought to apply when economists share their opinions in this way., Working Paper Series No. 2011-03 March 2011
DEGRADED WORK, DECLINING COMMUNITY, RISING INEQUALITY, AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE PROTESTANT ETHIC IN AMERICA
The Protestant ethic has been depicted as declining in America between 1870 and 1930, due to new affordable consumer durables and less rewarding industrial work. This article re-examines this period and finds that the Protestant ethic did not so much decline as become transformed. The work ethic component remained in force, while abstemious consumer behavior weakened. This transformation is traced to three dynamic social forces of the period: Degradation in the quality of work, the decline of community, and a dramatic increase in inequality. Industrialization degraded work as craft industries and independent farming waned, thereby making it more difficult for others to know the quality and intensity of ones work. However, the amount one consumed could serve as a proxy for hard work. Consequently, social respect and social standing came increasingly to be sought through consumption. Industrialization-driven urbanization also made it more difficult to find social certification not only in work but also in community. Growing inequality over this period prompted individuals to save less and become more indebted so as to be able to consume at the higher level necessary for maintaining their relative social standing. The durable goods revolution, although technologically driven, was also fueled by the degradation of labor, the decline of community, and rising inequality.
Distributional costs of the housing-price bust
In considering whether asset-price bubbles should be offset through policy, an important issue is who pays the price when the bubble bursts. A bust that reduces the wealth of well-off households only may have small welfare costs, but costs may be sizable if broad swaths of households are affected. This paper uses micro data from the American Community Survey to examine how the recent housing bust affected households‟ employment, homeownership, home values, and housing costs. To separate dynamics of the housing bust from those of the aggregate downturn, we differentiate between metropolitan areas that did and did not experience bubbles. We find that, for most measures, deteriorations in well-being were more severe in bubble metros than elsewhere, and for several measures, differential effects on less-educated households were also more severe. This underscores the importance of keeping housing markets from overheating, as burdens of adjustment fall differentially on people not well prepared to bear them., Working Paper Series No. 2011-04 March 2011
Do States Free Ride in Antitrust Enforcement?
Recent research has documented a substantial role in antitrust enforcement by U.S. states. While many of the cases litigated involve small local firms, a non-trivial portion encompass multiple-state issues. Some previous literature has investigated whether states engage in free-riding behavior in environmental regulation, and whether governments free ride on private decisions in provision of public goods. In this paper, we analyze a sample of antitrust cases involving crossstate impacts (from the Multi-State Antitrust Database, provided by the National Association of Attorneys General) and explain the determinants of free-riding (which we define as participating in a case, but not as a lead plaintiff).
INCREASING INEQUALITY, INADEQUATE DEMAND, STATUS INSECURITY, IDEOLOGY, AND THE FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 2008
The most widely embraced explanations of the financial crisis of 2008 have centered upon inadequate regulation stemming from laissez-faire ideology, combined with low interest rates. Although these widely-acknowledged causal factors are true, beneath them lies a deeper determining force that has received less notice: the dramatic increase in inequality in the U.S. over the preceding 35 years. Heightened inequality generated three dynamics that made the economy vulnerable to systemic dysfunction. The first is that inequality constrained consumption, reducing profitable investment potential in the real economy, and thereby encouraging an every wealthier elite to flood financial markets with credit, helping keep interest rates low, encouraging the creation of new credit instruments, and fueling speculation. The second dynamic is that greater inequality meant that individuals were forced to struggle harder to find ways to consume more to maintain their relative social status. The consequence was that over the preceding three decades household saving rates plummeted, households took on evergreater debt, and workers worked longer hours. The third dynamic is that, as the rich took larger shares of income and wealth, they gained more command over ideology and hence politics. Reducing the size of government, cutting taxes on the rich and reducing welfare for the poor, deregulating the economy, and failing to regulate newly evolving credit instruments flowed out of this ideology.
Why Mergers Fail
A number of empirical studies have shown that negative abnormal returns often result shortly after a once promising merger is consummated. There are few consistent explanations, however, as to why so many mergers result in such poor performance. This paper sheds light on this issue by examining the effect that structural factors (including market concentration and R&D intensity) have on post-merger abnormal returns. The paper also attempts to assess how differences in valuation among bidders, along with the presence of multiple bidders, influence the performance of the merged firm. Our findings show that firm value is positively impacted in the first one to three years post merger by acquiring related assets, but that participating in a merger wave in these years has a negative influence. Over longer periods of time these effects are not evident and instead post-merger performance is impacted foremost by intangible asset intensity.
“Exports-at-Risk”
"There is a well-established literature examining possible impacts on competition in oligopolistic markets from multi-market contact (MMC) among diversified firms. While much of this work is related to Edwards (1955) it was not formalized and broadly tested until the late 1970s. The theoretical work of Bernheim and Whinston (1990) has led to more recent research in this area. However, only recently have trade theorists begun to apply a similar approach to examining the effects of trade, where MMC among exporters may limit (or reverse completely) the anticipated pro-competitive role of imports. This paper presents a first effort to test the empirical importance of a measure of this MMC, called “exports-at-risk,” on import-unit values. I examine 10 highly-traded 4-digit HS products within the broad category of “fats and oils” – focusing on the 20 leading import markets and the 5 major exporters to each market."