Tuesday , October 4 2022
Home / Dirk Niepelt
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

Lucas on an OECD Economic Expert Report

12 days ago

In a Carnegie-Rochester paper from 1979, Robert Lucas reviews an earlier report to the OECD by a group of independent experts. Lucas views the report as vacuous, eclectic, and dangerous:
… I know of no other way to convey the Report’s undisciplined eclecticism. It meanders through the long list of issues which have been defined in popular debate as “policy problems,” accepting all as equally suited to treatment by government action and equally amenable to economic expertise, offering ambiguous and unsupported opinion on each. Nowhere can one discern a consistent set of economic principles underlying either the choice of questions to be addressed or the policy stances which are recommended.
As an economist, I find this alarming, but not because I believe the Report will in any direct

Read More »

Monetary Policy, the NK Model, and Humility

12 days ago

In an NBER working paper John Cochrane concludes that

… we have been guilty of playing with too-complex models when we don’t really understand basics, such as stability, determinacy, and the frictionless limit. …
Given the state of actual agreed-on knowledge, central banks’ proclamations of detailed technocratic ability to manipulate delicate frictions is laughable. Figure 10 shows in chart form the Rube-Goldberg list of mechanisms the ECB thinks it understands and can manipulate. Central bankers who think they have any idea how all these boxes and arrows work, and how to manipulate them, should reread Bob’s unsung classic “on a report to the OECD” Lucas (1979) once a week. A little humility would do us all good.

Read More »

“Macroeconomics II,” Bern, Fall 2022

20 days ago

MA course at the University of Bern.
Time: Monday 10:15-12:00. Location: A-126 UniS. Uni Bern’s official course page. Course assistant: Stefano Corbellini.
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 the Lucas tree model.
Lectures follow chapters 1–4 (possibly 5) in this book.

Read More »

“Makroökonomie I (Macroeconomics I),” Bern, Fall 2022

20 days ago

BA course at the University of Bern, taught in German.
Time: Monday 14:15-16:00. Location: Audimax. Uni Bern’s official course page. Course assistant: Wjera Yell Leutenegger.
Course description:
Die Vorlesung vermittelt einen ersten Einblick in die moderne Makroökonomie. Sie baut auf der Veranstaltung „Einführung in die Makroökonomie“ des Einführungsstudiums auf und betont sowohl die Mikrofundierung als auch dynamische Aspekte. Das heisst, sie interpretiert makroökonomische Entwicklungen als das Ergebnis zielgerichteten individuellen (mikroökonomischen) Handelns, und sie wird der Tatsache gerecht, dass wirtschaftliche Entscheidungen Erwartungen widerspiegeln und Konsequenzen in der Zukunft haben. Der klassische Modellrahmen, der in der Vorlesung entwickelt wird, bietet die Grundlage

Read More »

SNB Losses in the News

August 1, 2022

My written statement for 20minuten:
Anlageverluste der SNB sind schlecht für den Schweizer Steuerzahler, denn ihm gehört die SNB. Sie können aber auch Entwicklungen widerspiegeln, die ihre guten Seiten haben. Jetzt zum Beispiel führt die Frankenstärke zu Anlageverlusten, bremst aber auch die importierte Inflation.
Die Diskussion um die Höhe der SNB-Ausschüttungen ist vielfach fehlgeleitet. In der Debatte geht vergessen, dass Gewinnausschüttungen das Reinvermögen von Bund und Kantonen nicht verändern. Denn Ausschüttungen sind keine Transfers von Dritten an Bund oder Kantone – sie tauschen lediglich eine Aktivposition in der Bilanz von Bund oder Kantonen gegen eine andere aus, wie bei einer Dividendenausschüttung eines Unternehmens. Die Hauptwirkung von

Read More »

SNB Losses in the News

July 29, 2022

My written statement for 20minuten:
Anlageverluste der SNB sind schlecht für den Schweizer Steuerzahler, denn ihm gehört die SNB. Sie können aber auch Entwicklungen widerspiegeln, die ihre guten Seiten haben. Jetzt zum Beispiel führt die Frankenstärke zu Anlageverlusten, bremst aber auch die importierte Inflation.
Die Diskussion um die Höhe der SNB-Ausschüttungen ist vielfach fehlgeleitet. In der Debatte geht vergessen, dass Gewinnausschüttungen das Reinvermögen von Bund und Kantonen nicht verändern. Denn Ausschüttungen sind keine Transfers von Dritten an Bund oder Kantone – sie tauschen lediglich eine Aktivposition in der Bilanz von Bund oder Kantonen gegen eine andere aus, wie bei einer Dividendenausschüttung eines Unternehmens. Die Hauptwirkung von Ausschüttungen ist, dass sie

Read More »

The SNB’s Financial Result, Currency Reserves, and Distribution Reserve

July 27, 2022

How are SNB profits and losses distributed and what issues are debated?
Annual Result Funds two “Reserves”
The annual result (Jahresergebnis) of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is split into two parts. The first part funds “provisions for currency reserves” (Zuweisungen an Rückstellungen für Währungsreserven) which are meant to provide a buffer against future losses on the SNB’s asset positions. The second part funds current and future profit distributions to the Confederation and cantons (Ausschüttungen an Bund und Kantone) and dividend payments to SNB shareholders. The ad hoc announcement regarding the SNB’s 2021 annual result (English, German) provides an overview.
Allocation Rules
The SNB decides how the annual result is split, subject to some guidance in the National Bank Law (NBG,

Read More »

The SNB’s Financial Result, Currency Reserves, and Distribution Reserve

July 27, 2022

How are SNB profits and losses distributed and what issues are debated?
Annual Result Funds two “Reserves”
The annual result (Jahresergebnis) of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is split into two parts. The first part funds “provisions for currency reserves” (Zuweisungen an Rückstellungen für Währungsreserven) which are meant to provide a buffer against future losses on the SNB’s asset positions. The second part funds current and future profit distributions to the Confederation and cantons (Ausschüttungen an Bund und Kantone) and dividend payments to SNB shareholders. The ad hoc announcement regarding the SNB’s 2021 annual result (English, German) provides an overview.
Allocation Rules
The SNB decides how the annual result is split, subject to some guidance in the

Read More »

“The Political Economy of Early COVID-19 Interventions in US States,” JEDC, 2022

July 21, 2022

Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, July 2022, with Martin Gonzalez-Eiras. PDF (local copy).
We investigate how politico-economic factors shaped government responses to the spread of COVID-19. Our simple framework uses epidemiological, economic and politico-economic arguments. Confronting the theory with US state level data we find strong evidence for partisanship even when we control for fundamentals including the electorate’s political views. Moreover, we detect an important role for the proximity of elections which we interpret as indicative of career concerns. Finally, we find suggestive evidence for complementarities between voluntary activity reductions and government imposed restrictions.

Read More »

21st BIS Annual Conference

June 24, 2022

Central banking after the pandemic: challenges ahead
This year’s conference focused on the question of how central banks can meet their mission to preserve the value of money. The sessions focused on inflation – the containment of which is an important aspect of preserving money’s value – as well as preserving the value of money from the longer-term, structural perspective, focusing on the challenges of digital innovation.
Program

Read More »

Economic Journalism Award 2022

June 22, 2022

Der diesjährige Preis der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Volkswirtschaft und Statistik geht an Hansueli Schöchli. Pressemitteilung.

Le prix de cette année de la Société suisse d’économie et de statistique est décerné à Hansueli Schöchli. Communiqué de presse.

Il premio di quest’anno della Società svizzera di economia e di statistica va a Hansueli Schöchli. Comunicato stampa.

This year’s prize of the Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics goes to Hansueli Schöchli. Press release.

Read More »

When Children Die

May 22, 2022

Interview in NZZ with the leader of the palliative care section at the University of Zurich’s childrens’ hospital:
Wie sprachen [Kinder] darüber [ihre Ahnung, bald sterben zu müssen]?
Ein Kind sagte, es müsse zwei Koffer packen. Den einen nehme es auf seine Reise mit, den anderen lasse es zu Hause, damit es nicht vergessen werde. Ein anderes wollte auf einem Besen in den Himmel reiten. Ich habe auch schon ein kleines Kind erlebt, das kaum sprach und plötzlich zu seinen Eltern sagte, wie lieb es sie habe. Das war unglaublich berührend. Im Moment, als es das sagte, war der Satz noch nicht als Zeichen der Verabschiedung deutbar. Manchmal merken wir erst im Rückblick, dass das Kind gespürt hat, was kommt.
Was sagen Sie, wenn ein Kind Sie fragt, ob es bald sterben werde?
Das werde ich

Read More »

“Life Among the Econ”

May 7, 2022

By Axel Leijonhufvud, September 1973, Economic Inquiry.

The Econ tribe occupies a vast territory in the far North. Their land appears bleak and dismal to the outsider, and travelling through it makes for rough sledding; but the Econ, through a long period of adaptation, have learned to wrest a living of sorts from it. They are not without some genuine and sometimes even fierce attachment to their ancestral grounds, and their young are brought up to feel contempt for the softer living in the warmer lands of their neighbours, such as the Polscis and the Sociogs. Despite a common genetical heritage, relations with these tribes are strained -the distrust and contempt that the average Econ feels for these neighbours being heartily reciprocated by the latter- and social intercourse with

Read More »

Learning from Lucas

April 9, 2022

Tom Sargent describes how he learnt macroeconomics the Lucas way, starting from the Cowles Commission approach and digesting Muth’s (or Richardson’s?) rational expectations.

Read More »

White House on Digital Assets

March 9, 2022

An executive order dated March 9, 2022 outlines what is on the White House’s mind:
The United States has an interest in responsible financial innovation, expanding access to safe and affordable financial services, and reducing the cost of domestic and cross-border funds transfers and payments, including through the continued modernization of public payment systems.  We must take strong steps to reduce the risks that digital assets could pose to consumers, investors, and business protections; financial stability and financial system integrity; combating and preventing crime and illicit finance; national security; the ability to exercise human rights; financial inclusion and equity; and climate change and pollution. …
(d)  We must reinforce United States leadership in the global

Read More »

Passports for Sale

March 8, 2022

Henley & Partners lists what is costs.
A growing number of countries host residence and citizenship by investment programs (also known as golden visa programs) that offer a variety of attractive investment options designed to cater to each family’s unique requirements. In an unsettled, ever-changing world, wealthy individuals need a plan B for themselves and their families — one that offers them a safer place to live in times of crisis, while also providing them with greater access to global business and lifestyle opportunities.

Read More »

BA and MA Thesis Guidelines

February 22, 2022

I supervise theses that focus on macroeconomic questions, use models to answer them, and are written in English or German. If you are interested in writing your thesis with me please follow these steps:
Contact me by e-mail to check whether I can act as your thesis supervisor. Attach your grade sheet and sketch very briefly what type of questions you are interested in. 
Once we have agreed that I act as supervisor prepare a one- or two-page proposal outlining as concisely and precisely as possible, what your research question is; what kind of model you plan to use in order to answer the question; and what kind of results you anticipate.
We will discuss your proposal and you might revise it until we have a common understanding of the research question and the strategy to answer it. We

Read More »

Fabio Panetta on the Digital Euro

February 19, 2022

In a speech, the ECB’s Fabio Panetta argues that a digital Euro is necessary because
[i]n the digital age … banknotes could lose their role as a reference value in payments, undermining the integrity of the monetary system. Central banks must therefore consider how to ensure that their money can remain a payments anchor in a digital world.
He argues that
outsourcing the provision of central bank money [to stable coin providers] … would endanger monetary sovereignty [as would the absence of a national digital currency].
Panetta also argues that a digital Euro could
improve the confidentiality of digital payments and
increase choice and reduce costs
and should
avoid interfering with the functioning of the financial system and
be available within private payment solutions.
Panetta does

Read More »

“Digital Finance bedroht Geld- und Währungshoheit (Digital Finance Threatens Monetary Sovereignty),” NZZ, 2022

February 17, 2022

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, February 17, 2022. PDF.
The federal council’s digital finance strategy focuses on regulation.
There are limits to this strategy when financial markets operate globally and virtually.
Preserving monetary sovereignty requires an attractive national currency.
Carrots, not only sticks.
An attractive currency is not only stable but also usable in digital form.

Read More »

Olga Tokarczuk’s “The Books of Jacob”

February 3, 2022

Goodreads rating 4.19.
A sweeping novel of 950 pages (!) which starts on page 960. The Nobel laureate describes hundreds of characters, with even more names; immerses in countless locations, languages, and creeds. Her protagonists always remain strangers.
There is something wonderful in being a stranger, in being foreign, something to be relished, something as alluring as candy. It is good not to be able to understand a language, not to know the customs, to glide like a spirit among others who are distant and unrecognizable. Then a particular kind of wisdom awakens—an ability to surmise, to grasp the things that aren’t obvious. Cleverness and acumen come about. A person who is a stranger gains a new point of view, becomes, whether he likes it or not, a particular type of sage. Who was

Read More »

The FT Favors a Digital Dollar

January 25, 2022

On the question whether the Fed should seriously consider retail CBDC, the FT sides with the pro camp.

While elsewhere such central bank digital currencies can appear “a solution in search of a problem”, America’s lacklustre retail banking system and the importance of the dollar in cross-border money flows make an obvious case for reform.

Compare the contributions by Darrell Duffie and Chris Waller in the CEPR eBook.

Read More »

“The Political Economy of Early COVID-19 Interventions in US States,” CEPR, 2022

January 15, 2022

CEPR Discussion Paper 16906, January 2022, with Martin Gonzalez-Eiras. PDF (local copy).
We investigate how politico-economic factors shaped government responses to the spread of COVID-19. Our simple framework uses epidemiological, economic and politico-economic arguments. Confronting the theory with US state level data we find strong evidence for partisanship even when we control for fundamentals including the electorate’s political views. Moreover, we detect an important role for the proximity of elections which we interpret as indicative of career concerns. Finally, we find suggestive evidence for complementarities between voluntary activity reductions and government imposed restrictions.
Forthcoming in the JEDC.

Read More »