"If money isn't loosened up, this sucker could go down" - George W. Bush warned in September 2008

Monday, April 5, 2010

Really great links - Greenspan and subprime - ending QE - labour supply elasticity

Michael Burry - Greenspan and subprime - "In February 2004, a few months before the Fed formally ended a remarkable streak of interest-rate cuts, Mr. Greenspan told Americans that they would be missing out if they failed to take advantage of cost-saving adjustable-rate mortgages. And he suggested to the banks that “American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage.”
Within a year lenders made interest-only adjustable-rate mortgages readily available to subprime borrowers. And within 18 months lenders offered subprime borrowers so-called pay-option adjustable-rate mortgages, which allowed borrowers to make partial monthly payments and have the remainder added to the loan balance (much like payments on a credit card).
Observing these trends in April 2005, Mr. Greenspan trumpeted the expansion of the subprime mortgage market. “Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit,” he said, “lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately.”
Yet the tide was about to turn. By December 2005, subprime mortgages that had been issued just six months earlier were already showing atypically high delinquency rates. (It’s worth noting that even though most of these mortgages had a low two-year teaser rate, the borrowers still had early difficulty making payments.)"

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Even ending QE amounts to tightening - "Work by Berkeley Professor Barry Eichengreen shows that global trade, industrial output, and stock markets all crashed at a faster rate over the six terrifying months after the Lehman crisis than during the early 1930s. How quickly we forget, and how easily we are seduced by a 76pc stock rally into thinking it was a storm in a teacup. Just wait until the day fiscal retribution comes.
The $1.7 trillion created out of nothing will vanish as the bonds are sold on the open market. Not too quickly, let us hope. Easy money must cushion the blow of spending cuts. Even talk of ending QE amounts to tightening. While the US economy has begun to create jobs again – plus 114,000 in March, stripping out short-term census workers – there were false dawns in 2002 and 1982. The broader U6 jobless rate nudged up to 16.9pc."

Ambrosini - Labour supply elasticity - "The micro people threw fits though because their estimates of the response of labor supply to tax changes is much less extreme than Prescott’s finding suggest. They basically find labor supply curves are vertical. This would mean that taxes simply can’t have an effect on labor supply.
For a while, these guys had me convinced because, in general, micro/labor types do a much better job of identification and I trust their estimates more than I trust macro estimates. More recently, however, macro people1 have been making the case that the “labor supply elasticity” estimated by the micro people is different from the “labor supply elasticity” the macro people estimate. The difference isn’t due to statistical methodology, we were just calling two different things the same thing.
Of course, its the macro elasticity that matters for tax policy, though"

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