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Abstract

In this paper, we reassess the impact of inequality on growth, The majority of previous papers have employed (system) GMM estimation. However, recent simulation studies indicate that the problems of GMM when using non-stationary data such as GDP have been grossly underestimated in applied research. Concerning predetermined regressors such as inequality, GMM is outperformed by a simple least square dummy variable estimator. Additionally, new data have recently become available that not only double the sample size compared to most previous studies but that also address the substantial measurement issues that have plagued past research. Using these new data and an LSDV estimator, we provide an analysis that both accounts for the conditions where inequality is beneficial or detrimental to growth and distinguishes between market-driven inequality and redistribution. We show that there are situations where market inequality affects growth positively while redistribution is simultaneously beneficial.

Abstract

Can a negative shock to sovereign ratings invoke a vicious cycle of increasing government bond yields and further downgrades, ultimately pushing a country toward default? The narratives of public and political discussions, as well as of some widely cited papers, suggest this possibility. In this paper, we will investigate the possible existence of such a vicious cycle. We find no evidence of a bad long-run equilibrium and cannot confirm a feedback loop leading into default as a transitory state for all but the very worst ratings. We use a bivariate semiparametric dynamic panel model to reproduce the joint dynamics of sovereign ratings and government bond yields. The individual equations resemble Pesaran-type cointegration models, which allow for valid interference regardless of whether the employed variables display unit-root behavior. To incorporate most of the empirical features previously documented (separately) in the literature, we allow for different long-run relationships in both equations, nonlinearities in the level effects of ratings, and asymmetric effects in the changes of ratings and yields. Our finding of a single good equilibrium implies the slow convergence of ratings and yields toward this equilibrium. However, the persistence of ratings is sufficiently high that a rating shock can have substantial costs if it occurs at a highly speculative rating or lower. Rating shocks that drive the rating below this threshold can increase the interest rate sharply, and for a long time. Yet, simulation studies based on our estimations show that it is highly improbable that rating agencies can be made responsible for the most dramatic spikes in interest rates.