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Founded in 1920, the National Bureau of Economic Research is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community. Over the years the NBER's research agenda has encompassed a wide variety of issues that confront our society. Early research focused on the aggregate economy, examining in detail the business cycle and long-term economic growth. Simon Kuznets' pioneering work on national income accounting, Wesley Mitchell's influential study of the business cycle, and Milton Friedman's research on the demand for money and the determinants of consumer spending were among the early studies done at the NBER. Toward a Firmer Basis of Economic Policy: The Founding of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Solomon Fabricant, 1984

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    Using the complete history of regular quarterly and annual filings by U.S. corporations from 1995-2014, we show that when firms make an active change in their reporting practices, this conveys an important signal about future firm operations. Changes to the language and construction of financial reports also have strong implications for firms' future returns: a portfolio that shorts "changers" and buys "non-changers" earns up to 188 basis points in monthly alphas (over 22% per year) in the future. Changes in language referring to the executive (CEO and CFO) team, regarding litigation, or in the risk factor section of the documents are especially informative for future returns. We show that changes to the 10-Ks predict future earnings, profitability, future news announcements, and even future firm-level bankruptcies. Unlike typical underreaction patterns in asset prices, we find no announcement effect associated with these changes--with returns only accruing when the information is later revealed through news, events, or earnings--suggesting that investors are inattentive to these simple changes across the universe of public firms.

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    Because of limitations in survey-based measures of household consumption, a growing literature uses an alternative measure of consumer expenditures commonly referred to as "imputed consumption." This approach typically utilizes annual snapshots of household income and wealth from administrative tax registries to calculate household spending as the residual of the household budget constraint. In this paper we use transaction-level retail investment data to assess the measurement error that can result in imputed consumption due to intra-year changes in asset values and composition. We show that substantial discrepancies between imputed and actual spending can arise due to trading costs, asset distributions, variable trade timing, and volatile asset prices between two annual snapshots. While these errors tend to be quantitatively small and centered around zero on average, we demonstrate that they vary across individuals of different types and income levels and are highly correlated with the business cycle. We end by suggesting ways to minimize the impact of these imputation errors in future research and we discuss which research questions are least likely to suffer from such errors.

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    We examine the negative relationship between the rate of growth in credit and the rate of growth in output per worker. Using a panel of 20 countries over 25 years, we establish that there is a robust correlation: the higher the growth rate of credit, the lower the growth rate of output per worker. We then proceed to build a model in which this relationship arises from the fact that investment projects that are more risky have a higher return. As their borrowing grows more quickly over time, entrepreneurs turn to safer, hence lower return projects, thereby reducing aggregate productivity growth. We take this theoretical prediction to industry-level data and find that credit growth disproportionately harms output per worker growth in industries that have either less tangible assets or are more R&D intensive.

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    In this paper we document the impact of immigration at the regional level on Europeans' political preferences as expressed by voting behavior in parliamentary or presidential elections between 2007 and 2016. We combine individual data on party voting with a classification of each party's political agenda on a scale of their "nationalistic" attitudes over 28 elections across 126 parties in 12 countries. To reduce immigrant selection and omitted variable bias, we use immigrant settlements in 2005 and the skill composition of recent immigrant flows as instruments. OLS and IV estimates show that larger inflows of highly educated immigrants were associated with a change in the vote of citizens away from nationalism. However the inflow of less educated immigrants was positively associated with a vote shift towards nationalist positions. These effects were stronger for non-tertiary educated voters and in response to non-European immigrants. We also show that they are consistent with the impact of immigration on individual political preferences, which we estimate using longitudinal data, and on opinions about immigrants. Conversely, immigration did not affect electoral turnout. Simulations based on the estimated coefficients show that immigration policies balancing the number of high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants from outside the EU would be associated with a shift in votes away from nationalist parties in almost all European regions.

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    Countries that specialize in commodity exports often exhibit a correlation between the relevant commodity price and the value of their currency. We explore a natural but little-studied explanation for this correlation. An increase in the commodity price leads to increases in the future values of the international differential in policy interest rates. The tightening of expected future monetary policy relative to the US then leads to an immediate appreciation. We show theoretically that this correlation depends on the stance of monetary policy. We then derive a statistical model that embodies this mechanism and test the over-identifying restrictions for Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. For all three countries, controlling for the effect of commodity prices in predicting current and future monetary policy leaves them no significant, remaining role in statistically explaining exchange rates.

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    Information is a fundamental component of all financial transactions and markets, but it can arrive in multiple forms. We define what is meant by hard and soft information and describe the relative advantages of each. Hard information is quantitative, easy to store and transmit in impersonal ways, and its information content is independent of its collection. As technology changes the way we collect, process, and communicate information, it changes the structure of markets, design of financial intermediaries, and the incentives to use or misuse information. We survey the literature to understand how these concepts influence the continued evolution of financial markets and institutions.

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    In this paper we analyze the economic effects of changing immigration policies in a realistic institutional set-up, using a search model calibrated to the migrant flows between the US and the rest of the world. We explicitly differentiate among the most relevant channels of entry of immigrants to the US: family-based, employment-based and undocumented. Moreover we explicitly account for earning incentives to migrate and for the role of immigrant networks in generating job-related and family-related immigration opportunities. Hence, we can analyze the effect of policy changes in each channel, accounting for the response of immigrants in general equilibrium. We find that all types of immigrants generate higher surplus for US firms relative to natives, hence restricting their entry has a depressing effect on job creation and, in turn, on native labor markets. We also show that substituting a family-based entry with an employment-based entry system, and maintaining the total inflow of immigrants unchanged, job creation and natives' income increase.

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    Infrequent but turbulent overt sovereign defaults on domestic creditors are a "forgotten history" in Macroeconomics. We propose a heterogeneous-agents model in which the government chooses optimal debt and default on domestic and foreign creditors by balancing distributional incentives v. the social value of debt for self-insurance, liquidity, and risk-sharing. A rich feedback mechanism links debt issuance, the distribution of debt holdings, the default decision, and risk premia. Calibrated to Eurozone data, the model is consistent with key long-run and debt-crisis statistics. Defaults are rare (1.2 percent frequency), and preceded by surging debt and spreads. Debt sells at the risk-free price most of the time, but the government's lack of commitment reduces sustainable debt sharply.

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    We introduce DOSE - Dynamically Optimized Sequential Experimentation - and use it to estimate individual-level loss aversion in a representative sample of the U.S. population (N=2,000). DOSE elicitations are more accurate, more stable across time, and faster to administer than standard methods. We find that around 50% of the U.S. population is loss tolerant. This is counter to earlier findings, which mostly come from lab/student samples, that a strong majority of participants are loss averse. Loss attitudes are correlated with cognitive ability: loss aversion is more prevalent in people with high cognitive ability, and loss tolerance is more common in those with low cognitive ability. We also use DOSE to document facts about risk and time preferences, indicating a high potential for DOSE in future research.

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    We review a recent body of theoretical literature that links the creation and diffusion of knowledge and technology to openness. We analyze two channels through which the spread of new ideas occurs: international trade and the activity of multinational firms (multinational production). The unifying theme of our survey is methodological. We focus on quantitative general equilibrium models that treat productivities as Frechet random variables--as in the model of trade in Eaton and Kortum (2002) (EK). We present models in the literature that extend the EK model of trade to innovation, diffusion, and multinational firms, and examine the implications for counterfactuals related to the gains from trade. We finalize with new directions for research.

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    The fiscal and educational consequences of charter expansion for non-charter students are central issues in the debate over charter schools. Do charter schools drain resources and high-achieving peers from non-charter schools? This paper answers these questions using an empirical strategy that exploits a 2011 reform that lifted caps on charter schools for underperforming districts in Massachusetts. We use complementary synthetic control instrumental variables (IV-SC) and differences-in-differences instrumental variables (IV-DiD) estimators. The results suggest greater charter attendance increases per-pupil expenditures in traditional public schools and induces them to shift expenditure from support services to instruction and salaries. At the same time, charter expansion has a small positive effect on non-charter students' achievement.

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    We consider the effects of student ability, college quality, and the interaction between the two on academic outcomes and earnings using data on two cohorts of college enrollees. Student ability and college quality strongly improve degree completion and earnings for all students. We find evidence of meaningful complementarity between student ability and college quality in degree completion at four years and long-term earnings, but not in degree completion at six years or STEM degree completion. This complementarity implies some tradeoff between equity and efficiency for policies that move lower ability students to higher quality colleges.

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    Liability laws designed to compensate for harms caused by defective products may also affect innovation. We examine this issue by exploiting a major quasi-exogenous increase in liability risk faced by US suppliers of polymers used to manufacture medical implants. Difference-in-differences analyses show that this surge in suppliers' liability risk had a large and negative impact on downstream innovation in medical implants, but it had no significant effect on upstream polymer patenting. Our findings suggest that liability risk can percolate throughout a vertical chain and may have a significant chilling effect on downstream innovation.

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    Life annuities can be a valuable component of the decumulation stage of wealth during retirement. While economists argue that most retirees should annuitize, actual demand in the marketplace is low. We analyze data from two studies to determine how measurable individual differences among consumers affect their interest in annuities. We find that a relatively high percentage of respondents dislike all annuities. Demographic factors are not predictive of which individuals dislike annuities, and individual factors predicted by economic models to be important (such as beneficiaries) have small or even opposite effects. The strongest individual differences we measured that predicts liking of annuities is the respondent's perception of product fairness. We discuss implications of our findings for financial planners hoping to help their customers with these decumulation challenges.

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    The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond or the Federal Reserve System. We thank Eric LaRose and Sara Ho for outstanding research assistance.Using U.S. NETS data, we present evidence that the positive trend observed in national product-market concentration between 1990 and 2014 becomes a negative trend when we focus on measures of local concentration. We document diverging trends for several geographic definitions of local markets. SIC 8 industries with diverging trends are pervasive across sectors. In these industries, top firms have contributed to the amplification of both trends. When a top firm opens a plant, local concentration declines and remains lower for at least 7 years. Our findings, therefore, reconcile the increasing national role of large firms with falling local concentration, and a likely more competitive local environment.

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    Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs are a key contributor to economic growth and national competitiveness. Yet STEM workers are perceived to be in short supply. This paper shows that the "STEM shortage" phenomenon is explained by technological change, which introduces new job tasks and makes old ones obsolete. We find that the initially high economic return to applied STEM degrees declines by more than 50 percent in the first decade of working life. This coincides with a rapid exit of college graduates from STEM occupations. Using detailed job vacancy data, we show that STEM jobs changed especially quickly over the last decade, leading to flatter age-earnings profiles as the skills of older cohorts became obsolete. Our findings highlight the importance of technology-specific skills in explaining life-cycle returns to education, and show that STEM jobs are the leading edge of technology diffusion in the labor market.

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    As technology platforms have created new markets and new ways of acquiring information, economists have come to play an increasingly central role in tech companies - tackling problems such as platform design, strategy, pricing, and policy. Over the past five years, hundreds of PhD economists have accepted positions in the technology sector. In this paper, we explore the skills that PhD economists apply in tech companies, the companies that hire them, the types of problems that economists are currently working on, and the areas of academic research that have emerged in relation to these problems.

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    How does international trade affect the popularity of governments and leaders? We provide the first large-scale, systematic evidence that the divide between skilled and unskilled workers worldwide is producing corresponding differences in the response of political preferences to trade shocks. Using a unique data set including 118 countries and nearly 450,000 individuals, we find that growth in high skill intensive exports (of goods and services) increases approval of the leader and incumbent government among skilled individuals. Growth in high skill intensive imports has the opposite effect. High skill intensive trade has no such effect among the unskilled. To identify exogenous variation in international trade, we exploit the time-varying effects of air and sea distances on bilateral trade flows. Our findings suggest that the political effects of international trade differ with skill intensity and that skilled individuals respond differently from their unskilled counterparts to trade shocks.

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    Using a financial literacy survey of Swedish pension investors matched to actual retirement savings decisions, we argue that respondents can be broken into three groups: those who are financially literate, those who mistakenly believe they are financially literate, and those who know that they are not. We examine how these groups respond differently to informational nudges encouraging them to take charge of their own investments. Investors with mistaken beliefs responded to the nudge, and were more likely to work with mass-market advisors who steer them into high-fee funds. They underperform as a result. By comparison, those who either possess financial literacy or else understand that they do not possess financial literacy were less likely to respond to the nudge. They avoided advisors, stayed with the low-cost default fund, and therefore accumulated retirement savings more quickly.

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    We present a theoretical framework which explains the optimizing behavior of individuals who are exposed to many latent stimuli but prone to experience only the most salient one. We show that individuals with such preferences may find it optimal to engage in seemingly dysfunctional behavior such as self-harm. Our model also explains the behavior of individuals experiencing depression or trapped by multiple competing problems. We present experimental evidence suggesting such preferences explain the behavior of more than two thirds of subjects exposed to single and multiple painful stimuli.

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