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Dirk Niepelt

Dirk Niepelt

Dirk Niepelt is Director of the Study Center Gerzensee and Professor at the University of Bern. A research fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR, London), CESifo (Munich) research network member and member of the macroeconomic committee of the Verein für Socialpolitik, he served on the board of the Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics and was an invited professor at the University of Lausanne as well as a visiting professor at the Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) at Stockholm University.

Articles by Dirk Niepelt

On the Declining Political Support for Economic Unions

18 days ago

In an NBER working paper, Gino Gancia, Giacomo Ponzetto, and Jaume Ventura propose a theory of declining public support for economic unions: Broad gains from trade in differentiated goods make way for distributive conflict due to specific factors:

… this is partly due to the growth of trade between countries that are increasingly dissimilar. … political support for international unions can grow with their breadth and depth as long as member countries are sufficiently similar. However, differences in economic size and factor endowments can trigger disagreement over the value of unions between and within countries. The model is consistent with some salient features of the process of European integration and statistical evidence from survey data.

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Treasury Direct

19 days ago

A common argument against retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) is that CBDC would undermine financial stability by allowing the general public to swiftly move funds from banks to a government account. But in several countries such swift transfers are possible already today—in the US through Treasury Direct.
(The argument also has conceptual flaws, see the paper On the Equivalence of Public and Private Money with Markus Brunnermeier.)

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US Money Markets

19 days ago

For over a year the federal funds rate has increased relative to the rate the Fed pays on excess reserves. In mid September 2019, the federal funds rate increased abruptly, triggering the Fed to inject fresh funds. In parallel, the repo market rates spiked dramatically.
On the Cato Institute’s blog, George Selgin argues that structurally elevated demand collided with reduced supply. He mentions explicit and implicit regulation; Treasury General Account (TGA) balances; the NY Fed’s foreign repo pool (Japanese banks); and the administration’s $1 trillion deficit which required primary dealers to underwrite newly-issued government debt.
The bottom line is that regulators have managed to raise the biggest banks liquidity needs enough to compel them to sit on most of the banking system’s

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More Endorsements for “Macroeconomic Analysis”

20 days ago

“This is an excellent textbook for macroeconomics at the master’s or beginning PhD level. The topics and the material used to cover them are well chosen; the treatment gives a solid and unified background for positive and normative analysis. It strikes a good balance between being conceptually clear and logically consistent, and at the same time quite accessible.”
—Fernando Alvarez, Saieh Family Professor of Economics, University of Chicago
Forthcoming, MIT Press.
MIT Press book page. My book page.

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India’s Unified Payments Interface

22 days ago

In the FT, Benjamin Parkin reports about the transformation of India’s payments landscape.
Behind the boom is an innovation launched by the Indian government in 2016: the unglamorous sounding Unified Payments Interface, or UPI, which allows immediate mobile payments directly between bank accounts.
Conceived as a public utility, the service is transforming India’s cash-dependent economy into fertile soil for mobile-money apps. … Both the volume and value of transactions had more than doubled in a year.

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Harvard’s Admissions Policy

24 days ago

A paper by Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, and Tyler Ransom offers some glimpses.
The lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University provided an unprecedented look at how an elite school makes admissions decisions. Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial

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Where the Phillips Curve is Alive, Contd

24 days ago

In an NBER working paper, Laurence Ball and Sandeep Mazumder question the puzzles of first, missing disinflation and subsequently, missing inflation in the Euro area. From the abstract:
… we measure core inflation with the weighted median of industry inflation rates, which is less volatile than the common measure of inflation excluding food and energy prices. We find that fluctuations in core inflation since the creation of the euro are well explained by three factors: expected inflation (as measured by surveys of forecasters); the output gap (as measured by the OECD); and the pass-through of movements in headline inflation. Our specification resolves the puzzle of a “missing disinflation” after the Great Recession, and it diminishes the puzzle of a “missing inflation” during the

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“Monetary Policy for a Bubbly World”

24 days ago

In an VoxEU column, Vladimir Asriyan, Luca Fornaro, Alberto Martin, and Jaume Ventura lay out their perspective on bubbly money as a complementary store of value and the role of monetary policy in supporting optimal levels of investment.

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More Endorsements for “Macroeconomic Analysis”

27 days ago

“Finally, a book that fills the longstanding, and growing, gap between existing undergraduate and graduate macroeconomics textbooks. The winning approach of the author is to rigorously develop the core insights in each topic studied, avoiding superfluous diversions. The emphasis on government policy and political economy is especially useful in interpreting current global macroeconomic events.”
—Gianluca Violante, Professor of Economics, Princeton University
(To be continued.)
Forthcoming, MIT Press.
MIT Press book page. My book page.

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More Endorsements for “Macroeconomic Analysis”

November 6, 2019

“Niepelt’s textbook provides a concise, but rigorous introduction to the key concepts, tools, and models that constitute modern macroeconomic theory. His pedagogical approach, introducing the key building blocks of the theory one at a time, and focusing on what is essential at each stage, should make the learning experience a pleasant one. I expect it to become a staple reference in first-year graduate courses.”
—Jordi Galí, CREI, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona GSE
(To be continued.)
Forthcoming, MIT Press.
MIT Press book page. My book page.

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Spyware for Sale

October 30, 2019

NSO Group “creates technology that helps government agencies prevent and investigate terrorism and crime to save thousands of lives around the globe,” according to the technology group’s website.
But according to the FT (article, article, article), NSO has (also) helped governments around the world to target journalists and dissidents.
The University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab knows more—and offers advice on how to take precautions.

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More Endorsements for “Macroeconomic Analysis”

October 30, 2019

“Macroeconomic Analysis is the rare textbook that is both comprehensive and rigorous, as well as concise and simple. By staying focused on the core model of dynamic macroeconomics, it elegantly navigates through many topics. After studying this book, students will be ready to join the exciting debates in modern macroeconomics.”
—Ricardo Reis, A. W. Phillips Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science
(To be continued.)
Forthcoming, MIT Press. Book page.

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More Endorsements for “Macroeconomic Analysis”

October 23, 2019

“A needed, up-to-date primer on macroeconomic theory. It is comprehensive, covering all the essential topics, from optimal consumption and labor supply to economic growth, business cycles, and asset markets. It is thorough and rigorous, yet accessible, as it requires little prior knowledge of the key concepts and mathematical tools.”
—George-Marios Angeletos, Professor of Economics, MIT
(To be continued.)
Forthcoming, MIT Press. Book page.

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BIS Stablecoin Report

October 20, 2019

The BIS has published a report on stablecoins. On Alphaville Izabella Kaminska approves but argues that the report does not contain novel points. One aspect discussed in the report concerns the benefit of stablecoins for cross-border payments; it may be limited unless technology is able to address the key friction:
A major obstacle to the interlinking of domestic payment systems and/or the development of shared global payment platforms is differing legal frameworks across jurisdictions and the associated uncertainty about the enforceability of contractual obligations resulting from participation in interlinked or shared payment platforms operating across borders.
See the VoxEU series on the topic.

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More Endorsements for “Macroeconomic Analysis”

October 16, 2019

“This book provides an excellent introduction into dynamic macroeconomics. Its analysis is deep, self-contained, and still concise. The chapters on labor search frictions, financial frictions, and money are an extra plus and make it a superb choice for a first-year PhD or advanced Masters’ course in macroeconomics.”
—Markus Brunnermeier, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Economics, Princeton University
(To be continued.)
Forthcoming, MIT Press. Book page.

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Endorsements for “Macroeconomic Analysis”

October 12, 2019

“An orderly and elegant presentation of essential ideas of modern macroeconomics with a perfect mix of tools and applications.”
—Thomas Sargent, Professor of Economics, New York University
(To be continued.)

Forthcoming, MIT Press. Book page.

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BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Switzerland

October 10, 2019

From the SNB’s press release regarding the newly established BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Switzerland:
“The Swiss Centre will initially conduct research on two projects. The first of these will examine the integration of digital central bank money into a distributed ledger technology infrastructure. This new form of digital central bank money would be aimed at facilitating the settlement of tokenised assets between financial institutions. Tokens are digital assets that can be transferred from one party to another. The project will be carried out as part of a collaboration between the SNB and the SIX Group in the form of a proof of concept.
The second project will address the rise in requirements placed on central banks to be able to effectively track and monitor

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BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Switzerland

October 9, 2019

From the SNB’s press release regarding the newly established BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Switzerland:
The Swiss Centre will initially conduct research on two projects. The first of these will examine the integration of digital central bank money into a distributed ledger technology infrastructure. This new form of digital central bank money would be aimed at facilitating the settlement of tokenised assets between financial institutions. Tokens are digital assets that can be transferred from one party to another. The project will be carried out as part of a collaboration between the SNB and the SIX Group in the form of a proof of concept.
The second project will address the rise in requirements placed on central banks to be able to effectively track and monitor fast-paced electronic

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Costs and Benefits of Unconventional Monetary Policy

October 9, 2019

The BIS has issued two reports that assess the implications of unconventional monetary policies.
The report prepared by the Committee on the Global Financial System discusses
… a number of unconventional monetary policy tools (UMPTs). After a decade of experience with UMPTs the report takes stock of central banks’ experience and draws some lessons for the future.
The report focuses on four sets of tools: negative interest rate policies, new central bank lending operations, asset purchase programmes, and forward guidance. It offers a summary of central banks’ shared understanding of the efficacy of these tools across countries, as well as the way that they were sequenced and coordinated.
The report concludes that, on balance, UMPTs helped the central banks that used them address the

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Entertainment TV, Politics, and Cognitive Skills

October 7, 2019

In the July issue of the American Economic Review, Ruben Durante, Paolo Pinotti, and Andrea Tesei argue that entertainment TV has shaped Italian politics and affected the cognitive skills of viewers. From the abstract:
We study the political impact of commercial television in Italy exploiting the staggered introduction of Berlusconi’s private TV network, Mediaset, in the early 1980s. We find that individuals with early access to Mediaset all-entertainment content were more likely to vote for Berlusconi’s party in 1994, when he first ran for office. The effect persists for five elections and is driven by heavy TV viewers, namely the very young and the elderly. Regarding possible mechanisms, we find that individuals exposed to entertainment TV as children were less cognitively

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International Press Coverage

October 1, 2019

There is widespread international interest in CBDC, Libra, and the like. E.g., my VoxEU column on Libra and CBDC is discussed on the Czech news platform patria.cz. And my JME paper with Markus Brunnermeier is discussed on the Turkish site digitalage.com.tr.

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“Libra Paves the Way for Central Bank Digital Currency,” finews and WNM, 2019

September 18, 2019

My VoxEU column now also on finews and World News Monitor, September 17, 2019.
Digital currencies involve tradeoffs. Libra resolves them less favorably than other projects, and less favorably than CBDC.
When confronted with the choice between the status quo and a new financial architecture with CBDC, most central banks have responded cautiously. But Libra or its next best replica will take this choice off the table – the status quo ceases to be an option. The new choice for monetary authorities and regulators will be one between central bank managed CBDC on the one hand and – riskier – private digital tokens on the other. Central banks have a strong interest to maintain control over the payment system as well as the financial sector more broadly and to defend the attractiveness of

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How to Prevent Cash Hoarding when Interest Rates are Strongly Negative

September 18, 2019

On swissinfo.ch, Fabio Canetg explains how the Swiss National Bank prevents banks from hoarding cash rather than holding reserves at the central bank (which pay negative interest). He points to the following sentence in the SNB’s December 2014 press release (my emphasis) and he speculates that banks could, in principle, implement similar schemes to keep depositors from withdrawing cash:
The threshold currently corresponds to 20 times the minimum reserve requirement for the reporting period 20 October 2014 to 19 November 2014 (static component), minus any increase/plus any decrease in the amount of cash held (dynamic component). The change in the amount of cash held is calculated as the difference between the average cash holdings during the most recent reporting period for which the

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“Libra Paves the Way for Central Bank Digital Currency,” VoxEU, 2019

September 13, 2019

VoxEU, September 12, 2019. HTML.
Digital currencies involve tradeoffs. Libra resolves them less favorably than other projects, and less favorably than CBDC.
When confronted with the choice between the status quo and a new financial architecture with CBDC, most central banks have responded cautiously. But Libra or its next best replica will take this choice off the table – the status quo ceases to be an option. The new choice for monetary authorities and regulators will be one between central bank managed CBDC on the one hand and – riskier – private digital tokens on the other. Central banks have a strong interest to maintain control over the payment system as well as the financial sector more broadly and to defend the attractiveness of their home currency. Nolens volens, they will

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“On the Equivalence of Private and Public Money,” JME, 2019

September 10, 2019

Journal of Monetary Economics, with Markus Brunnermeier. PDF.
When does a swap between private and public money leave the equilibrium allocation and price system unchanged? To answer this question, the paper sets up a generic model of money and liquidity which identifies sources of seignorage rents and liquidity bubbles. We derive sufficient conditions for equivalence and apply them in the context of the “Chicago Plan”, cryptocurrencies, the Indian de-monetization experiment, and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Our results imply that CBDC coupled with central bank pass-through funding need not imply a credit crunch nor undermine financial stability.

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“Macroeconomics II,” Bern, Fall 2019

September 4, 2019

MA course at the University of Bern.
Time: Wed 10-12. KSL course site. Course assistant: Christian Wipf.
The course introduces Master students to modern macroeconomic theory. Building on the analysis of the consumption-saving tradeoff and on concepts from general equilibrium theory, the course covers workhorse general equilibrium models of modern macroeconomics, including the representative agent framework, the overlapping generations model, and possibly the Lucas tree model. Lectures follow chapters 1–4 (possibly 5) in these notes.

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The Bank of England’s “Future of Finance Report”

August 14, 2019

Huw van Steenis’ summarizes his report as follows (my emphasis):
A new economy is emerging driven by changes in technology, demographics and the environment. The UK is also undergoing several major transitions that finance has to respond to.
What this means for finance
Finance is likely to undergo intense change over the coming decade. The shift to digitally-enabled services and firms is already profound and appears to be accelerating. The shift from banks to market-based finance is likely to grow further. Ultra low rates, new regulations and the need to invest in updating their businesses mean many UK and global banks are struggling to make their cost of capital. Brexit and political and policy changes around the world will also impact the shape of financial services. Risks are likely

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FedNow and Fedwire

August 7, 2019

The Federal Reserve Banks will develop a round-the-clock real-time payment and settlement service, FedNow. The objective is to support faster payments in the United States.
From the FAQs (my emphasis):
… there are some faster payment services offered by banks and fintech companies in the United States, their functionality can be limited. In particular, due to the lack of a universal infrastructure to conduct faster payments, most of these services rely on “closed-loop” approaches, meaning that users signed up to one service cannot exchange payments with users signed up to other services. Other services target ubiquity by relying on users’ bank accounts, but they may face challenges reaching enough banks to allow any two users to exchange payments. Moreover, these services typically use

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