Browse the categories to access the content of academic, scientific and opinion publications of the professors and students of the Department of Economics PUC-Rio.

Counterfactual Analysis with Artificial Controls: Inference, High Dimensions and Nonstationarity

Journal of the American Statistical Association

V 116, P 1773-1788, 10/05/2021

Recently, there has been growing interest in developing econometric tools to conduct counterfactual analysis with aggregate data when a “treated” unit suffers an intervention, such as a policy change, and there is no obvious control group. Usually, the proposed methods are based on the construction of an artificial counterfactual from a pool of “untreated” peers, organized in a panel data structure. In this paper, we consider a general framework for counterfactual analysis in high dimensions with potentially non-stationary data and either deterministic and/or stochastic trends, which nests well-established methods, such as the synthetic control. Furthermore, we propose a resampling procedure to test intervention effects that does not rely on post-intervention asymptotics and that can be used even if there is only a single observation after the intervention. A simulation study is provided as well as an empirical application where the effects of price changes on the sales of a product is measured.

Marcelo Medeiros, Ricardo Masini.

Forecasting Inflation in a Data-Rich Environment: The Benefits of Machine Learning Methods

Journal of Business & Economic Statistics

V 39, P 98-119, 15/04/2021

Inflation forecasting is an important but difficult task. Here, we explore advances in machine learning (ML) methods and the availability of new datasets to forecast U.S. inflation. Despite the skepticism in the previous literature, we show that ML models with a large number of covariates are systematically more accurate than the benchmarks. The ML method that deserves more attention is the random forest model, which dominates all other models. Its good performance is due not only to its specific method of variable selection but also the potential nonlinearities between past key macroeconomic variables and inflation. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

Marcelo Medeiros, Eduardo Zilberman, Gabriel F. R. Vasconcelos, Álvaro Veiga.

From Zero to Hero: Realized Partial (Co)Variances (a sair)

Journal of Econometrics


This paper proposes a generalization of the class of realized semivariance and semicovariance measures introduced by Barndorff-Nielsen et al. (2010) and Bollerslev et al. (2020a) to allow for a finer decomposition of realized (co)variances. The new “realized partial (co)variances” allow for multiple thresholds with various locations, rather than the single fixed threshold of zero used in semi (co)variances. We adopt methods from machine learning to choose the thresholds to maximize the out-of-sample forecast performance of time series models based on realized partial (co)variances. We find that in low dimensional settings it is hard, but not impossible, to improve upon the simple fixed threshold of zero. In large dimensions, however, the zero threshold embedded in realized semi covariances emerges as a robust choice.

Tim Bollerslev, Marcelo Medeiros, Andrew J. Patton, Rogier Quaedvlieg.

Balance sheet effects in currency crises: Evidence from Brazil


V 22, N 1, P 19-37, 15/03/2021

In third generation currency crises models, balance sheet losses from currency depreciations propagate the crises into the real sector of the economy. To test these models, we built a firm-level database that allowed us to measure currency mismatches around the 2002 Brazilian currency crisis. We found that between 2001 and 2003, firms with large currency mismatches just before the crisis reduced their investment rates 8.1 percentage points more than other publicly held firms. We also showed that the currency depreciation increased exporters revenue, but those with currency mismatches reduced investments 12.5 percentage points more than other exporters. These estimated reductions in investment are economically very significant, underscoring the importance of negative balance sheet effects in currency crises.

Marcio Magalhães Janot, Márcio Garcia, Walter Novaes.

The Triangular Game between Autocrats, Clerics, and the Military: An Application to Muslim Countries

Journal of Economics, Theology and Religion

V 1, P 159-191, 30/01/2021

n order to elucidate the revival of religion in the Muslim countries, we must not only understand the spread of puritan interpretations of the faith (as they have permeated movements running from Muslim Brothers to violent Islamist movements), but also comprehend the process whereby these more radical ideologies have been accommodated by the (autocratic) Muslim states. This necessitates that we explore the internal political economy of Muslim countries without neglecting the possible influence of international forces. The theory used as a background to the present work has precisely allowed us to achieve that objective. It works out the strategic interactions between three key players: the ruler, the clerics, and the military, in the context of an autocracy; moreover, it highlights the channels through which external events and shocks make themselves felt through the local political and social fabrics. Among these shocks, military defeats by powers considered as imperialist, and the declaration of a world war against terrorism seem to have played a more important role than the end of the Cold War.

Jean Phillippe Platteau, Emmanuelle Auriol, Thierry Verdier.

Sectoral Price Facts in a Sticky-Price Model

American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics

V 13, N 1, P 216-256, 10/01/2021

We develop a multisector sticky-price DSGE model that can endogenously deliver differential responses of prices to aggregate and sectoral shocks. Input-output production linkages and a (standard) monetary policy rule contribute to a slow response of prices to aggregate shocks. In turn, labor market segmentation at the sectoral level induces withinsector strategic substitutability in price-setting decisions, which helps the model deliver a fast response of prices to sector-specific shocks. We estimate the model using aggregate and sectoral price and quantity data for the U.S., and find that it accounts well for a range of sectoral price facts.

Carlos Viana de Carvalho, Jae Won Lee, Woong Yong Park.

Nonparametric identification of an interdependent value model with buyer covariates from first-price auction bids

Journal of Econometrics

V 219, P 1-18, 29/09/2020

This paper introduces a version of the interdependent value model of Milgrom and Weber (1982), where the signals are given by an index gathering signal shifters observed by the econometrician and private ones specific to each bidders. The model primitives are shown to be nonparametrically identified from first-price auction bids under a testable mild rank condition. Identification holds for all possible signal values. This allows to consider a wide range of counterfactuals where this is important, as expected revenue in second-price auction. An estimation procedure is briefly discussed.

Emmanuel Guerre, Nathalie Gimenes.

Samaritan Bundles: Inefficient Clustering in NGO Projects

Economic Journal

V 130, P 1541–1582, 06/07/2020

This article provides a theoretical framework to understand the tendency of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to cluster and the circumstances under which such clustering is socially undesirable. NGOs compete through fundraising for donations and choose issues to focus their projects on. Donors have latent willingness-to-give that may differ across issues, but they need to be ‘awakened' to give. Raising funds focusing on the same issue creates positive informational spillovers across NGOs. Each NGO chooses whether to compete in the same market (clustering) with spillovers, or to face weaker competition under issue specialisation. We show that equilibrium clustering is more likely to occur when the share of multiple-issue donors is relatively large, and when the fundraising technology is sufficiently efficient. Moreover, this situation is socially inefficient when the cost of fundraising takes intermediate values and the motivation for donors’ giving is relatively high. We illustrate the mechanisms of the model with several case studies

G. Aldashev , M. Marini, Thierry Verdier.

A Smooth Transition Finite Mixture Model for Accommodating Unobserved Heterogeneity

Journal of Business & Economic Statistics

V 38, P 580-592, 10/06/2020

While the smooth transition (ST) model has become popular in business and economics, the treatment of unobserved heterogeneity within these models has received limited attention. We propose a ST finite mixture (STFM) model which simultaneously estimates the presence of time-varying effects and unobserved heterogeneity in a panel data context. Our objective is to accurately recover the heterogeneous effects of our independent variables of interest while simultaneously allowing these effects to vary over time. Accomplishing this objective may provide valuable insights for managers and policy makers. The STFM model nests several well-known ST and threshold models. We develop the specification, estimation, and model selection criteria for the STFM model using Bayesian methods. We also provide a theoretical assessment of the flexibility of the STFM model when the number of regimes grows with the sample size. In an extensive simulation study, we show that ignoring unobserved heterogeneity can lead to distorted parameter estimates, and that the STFM model is fairly robust when underlying model assumptions are violated. Empirically, we estimate the effects of in-game promotions on game attendance in Major League Baseball. Empirical results show that the STFM model outperforms all its nested versions. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

Eelco Kappe, Wayne DeSarbo, Marcelo Medeiros.

A Sticky-Dispersed Information Phillips Curve: A Model with Partial and Delayed Information

Macroeconomic Dynamics

V 24, P 747-773, 04/06/2020

We study the interaction between dispersed and sticky information by assuming that firms receive private noisy signals about the state in an otherwise standard model of price setting with sticky information. We compute the unique equilibrium of the game induced by the firms’ pricing decisions and derive the resulting Phillips curve. The main effect of dispersion is to magnify the immediate impact of a given shock when the degree of stickiness is small. Its effect on persistence is minor: even when information is largely dispersed, a substantial amount of informational stickiness is needed to generate persistence in aggregate prices and inflation.

Vinicius Nascimento Carrasco, Waldyr Dutra Areosa, Marta Baltar Moreira Areosa.

The effect of rural credit on deforastation : Evidence from Brazilian Amazon

Economic Journal

V 130, P 290-330, 01/06/2020

In 2008, the Brazilian government made the concession of rural credit in the Amazon conditional upon stricter requirements as an attempt to curb forest clearings. This article studies the impact of this innovative policy on deforestation. Difference-in-differences estimations based on a panel of municipalities show that the policy change led to a substantial reduction in deforestation, mostly in municipalities where cattle ranching is the leading economic activity. The results suggest that the mechanism underlying these effects was a restriction in access to rural credit, one of the main support mechanisms for agricultural production in Brazil.

Juliano Assunção, Clarissa Costalonga e Gandour, Romero Cavalcanti Barreto da Rocha, Rudi Rocha.

The cross-sectional distribution of price stickiness implied by aggregate data

The Review of Economics and Statistics

V 102, P 162-179, 03/03/2020

We provide evidence on three mechanisms that can reconcile frequent individual price changes with sluggish aggregate price dynamics. To that end, we estimate a semi-structural model that can extract information about real rigidities and the distribution of price stickiness from aggregate data. Hence, the model can also speak to the debate about the aggregate implications of sales. Our estimates indicate large real rigidities and substantial heterogeneity in price stickiness. Moreover, the cross-sectional distribution of price stickiness implied by aggregate data is in line with an empirical distribution obtained from micro price data that factors out sales and product substitutions.

Carlos Viana de Carvalho, Niels Dam , Jae Won Lee.

Do government guarantees really matter in fixed exchange rate regimes?



Since the mid 1990s, theories of speculative attacks have argued that fixed exchange rate regimes induce excessive borrowing in foreign currency as an optimal response to implicit guarantees that the government will not devalue the domestic currency. Using data on Brazilian firms before and after the end of the fixed exchange rate regime in 1999, we estimate the relevance of the government guarantees by comparing the changes in foreign debt of two groups of firms: those that hedged their foreign currency debt prior to the exchange rate float and those that did not. Using the difference-in-differences approach, in which firm-specific characteristics are introduced as control variables, we exclude the macroeconomic effects of the change in the exchange rate regime and the possible differences in foreign debt trends of the two groups of firms, thus obtaining an estimate of the impact of the government guarantees on borrowing in foreign currency. The results suggest that the guarantees do not induce excessive borrowing in foreign currency.

Marcio Magalhães Janot, Márcio Garcia, Walter Novaes.

Brazilian Private Pension: Portfolio Allocation, Risk-Taking and Interest Rate

Brazilian Review of Finance

V 17, 10/12/2019

Despite the fall in the interest rate observed in Brazil in recent decades, and specific regulations on the private pension segment that encourage long-term risk taking, institutions in this segment appear to be considerably sensitive to short-term factors, while avoiding exposure to long-term risk factors. With portfolio allocation data from large entities, we implemented a VAR model to evaluate the impact of interest rate changes on portfolio management decisions and performed a counterfactual analysis to define the causal effect of regulation on additional risk taking. Results indicate that interest rate increases lead to significant and persistent reduction of investment in riskier assets with longer maturities, while the implemented regulation was not able to force greater risk-taking by institutions, in addition to generating distortions in segments of the Brazilian financial market

Márcio Garcia, Luiz Guilherme Carpizo Costa.

Preferences over Wage Distribution: Evidence from a Choice Experiment

Journal of Economic Psychology

V 74, 10/10/2019

Using a choice experiment in the lab, we assess the relative importance of different attitudes to income inequality. We elicit subjects’ preferences regarding pairs of payoff distributions within small groups, in a firm-like setting. We find that distributions that satisfy the Pareto-dominance criterion attract unanimous suffrage: all subjects prefer larger inequality provided it makes everyone weakly better off. This is true no matter whether payoffs are based on merit or luck. Unanimity only breaks once subjects’ positions within the income distribution are fixed and known ex-ante. Even then, 75% of subjects prefer Pareto-dominant distributions, but 25% of subjects engage in money burning at the top in order to reduce inequality, even when it does not make anyone better off. A majority of subjects embrace a more equal distribution if their own income or overall efficiency is not at stake. When their own income is at stake and the sum of payoffs remains unaffected, 20% of subjects are willing to pay for a lower degree of inequality.

S. Cetre, M. Lobeck, C. Senik, Thierry Verdier.

Flex Cars and Competition in Fuel Retail Markets

International Journal of Industrial Organization

V 36, P 145-184, 10/05/2019

We study how the diffusion of flex (bi-fuel) cars affected competition on ethanol and gasoline retail markets. We propose a model of price competition in which the two fuels become closer substitutes as flex cars penetration grows. We use a large panel of weekly prices at the station level to show that fuel prices and margins have fallen in response to this change. This finding is evidence of market power in fuel retail and indicates that innovations that increase consumer choice benefit even those who choose not to adopt them.

Leonardo Rezende, Juliano Assunção, João Paulo Cordeiro De Noronha Pessoa.

Geographic Heterogeneity and Technology Adoption: Evidence from Brazil

Land Economics

V 95, 22/03/2019

This paper studies the relationship between geographic heterogeneity and technology adoption in the context of the direct planting system (DPS) in Brazil. The DPS is a no-till farming technique that increases productivity and decreases soil degradation. However, it requires adaptation to local conditions to be profitably used. Combining detailed geographic and agricultural data, we show that geographic heterogeneity reduces DPS adoption. This effect is robust to the inclusion of controls and not observed for technologies that do not require local adaptation. These findings are consistent with models in which geographic heterogeneity increases the cost of adapting technologies to local conditions

Juliano Assunção, Arthur Amorim Bragança, Pedro Hemsley.

Returns to experience across tasks: evidence from Brazil

Applied Economics Letters

V 20, P 1718-1723, 21/03/2019

Using a rich Brazilian panel dataset and an occupation-task mapping, we investigate whether returns to experience depend on the types of jobs performed by workers. We find that returns to experience in non-routine tasks, especially returns to analytical tasks, are much larger than returns to routine tasks. This gap increases with schooling, suggesting that schooling and nonroutine tasks are complementary in the human capital production function. These are important findings for developing countries similar to Brazil, where approximately 70% of workers’ tasks are routine

Gustavo Gonzaga, Tomás Guanziroli.

From Equals to Despots: The Dynamics of Repeated Decision Making in Partnerships with Private Information

Journal of Economic Theory

V 182, P 402-432, 11/03/2019

This paper considers an optimal renegotiation-proof dynamic Bayesian mechanism in which two privately informed players repeatedly have to take a joint action without resorting to side-payments. We provide a general framework which accommodates as special cases committee decision and collective insurance problems. Thus, we formally connect these separate strands of literature. We show: (i) first-best values can be arbitrarily approximated (but not achieved) when the players are sufficiently patient; (ii) our main result, the provision of intertemporal incentives necessarily leads to a dictatorial mechanism: in the long run the optimal scheme converges to the adoption of one player's favorite action. This can entail one agent becoming a permanent dictator or a possibility of having sporadic “regime shifts.”

William Fuchs , Satoshi Fukuda, Vinicius Nascimento Carrasco.

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