Doctoral Dissertation Research in Economics: Escaping Secular Stagnation with Unconventional Policy
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PI Last Name: EckelTitle: Doctoral Dissertation Research in Economics: Escaping Secular Stagnation with Unconventional PolicyProposal ID: 1851920Institution: Texas A&M UniversityAbstractThis research project uses laboratory experiments to understand periods of prolonged low economic growth, as distinct from cyclical low-growth periods. The goal of the project is to simulate an economy in the laboratory within which we can trigger a permanent decline in economic activity along with falling prices, and then to explore various policy interventions that have the potential to repair the stagnant economy. In particular, the project focuses on what actions policy makers can take (monetary and fiscal policy) to restore the experimental economy to full employment. The research explores whether the timing and contextual communication of policy can influence the efficacy of policy.The laboratory experiments in this project are designed to explore secular stagnation in a closed economy. Specifically, the research implements a recent formalization of secular stagnation that uses an overlapping-generations structure to break the representative agent assumption and allow for endogenous bouts of activity at the zero lower bound (ZLB). Exogenous deleveraging shocks can trigger spending gluts that create deflation, and lead to a secular stagnation equilibrium, which can be unique. The objective of the research is to identify whether deflationary and inflationary equilibria emerge when they are unique, and to explore equilibrium selection when multiple equilibria exist. Additionally, the project investigates the ability of monetary policy, in the form of inflation targeting, and fiscal policy, consisting of "helicopter drops" financed using lump-sum taxes levied on the middle-aged cohort in our experimental economy, to pull the economy out of a deflationary equilibrium following a debt-deleveraging shock. Both potential remedies improve economic conditions through an expectations channel by making households more optimistic about future economic conditions. Finally, the project studies the effect of variation in both the timing and contextual communication of policy.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.