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    Single family rentals have a market value of $2.3 trillion. We believe our study is the first to consider the total returns to this large, unique asset class over a long time period and in a broad and granular cross section, down to the house level. Single-family rental investments pay dividends of rental payments and capital gains from house price appreciation (HPA). We show that a portfolio of US homes benefitted equally from dividends and capital gains. Nominal annual HPA and net rental yields both averaged about 4.4% since 1986. Across MSAs, rental yields decline with prices, while HPA increases with prices. As a result, "total returns" are approximately equated across MSA's. By contrast, across zip codes within cities, both rental yields and HPA decline with prices. Thus, total returns appear to be highest, within MSA's, in the lowest price tiers.

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    Uncertainty about the future rises in recessions. But is uncertainty a source of business cycle fluctuations or an endogenous response to them, and does the type of uncertainty matter? Answer: sharply higher uncertainty about real economic activity in recessions is fully an endogenous response to other shocks that cause business cycle fluctuations, while uncertainty about financial markets is a likely source of the fluctuations. Financial market uncertainty has quantitatively large negative consequences for several measures of real activity including employment, production, and orders. Such are the main conclusions drawn from estimation of three-variable structural vector autoregressions. To establish causal effects, we use information contained in external instruments that we construct in a novel way to be valid under credible interpretations of the structural shocks.

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    Blockchains represent a novel application of cryptography and information technology to age-old problems of financial record-keeping, and they may lead to far-reaching changes in corporate governance. During 2015 many major players in the financial industry began to invest in this new technology, and stock exchanges have proposed using blockchains as a new method for trading corporate equities and tracking their ownership. This essay evaluates the potential implications of these changes for managers, institutional investors, small shareholders, auditors, and other parties involved in corporate governance. The lower cost, greater liquidity, more accurate record-keeping, and transparency of ownership offered by blockchains may significantly upend the balance of power among these cohorts.

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    We apply the synthetic control method to re-examine the wage and employment effect of the Mariel Boatlift in Miami. We focus exclusively on workers with no high school degree. They are the group competing more closely in the labor market with the newly arrived. We compare Miami's labor market outcomes with those in a control group of cities chosen using the synthetic control method so as to match Miami's wages and other labor market features in the period 1972 to 1979. Using most samples and different outcomes we find no departure between Miami and its control between 1979 and 1983. Significant noise exists in many samples but we never find significant negative effects especially right after the Boatlift, when they should have been the strongest. We point out that the very different conclusions in a recent reappraisal by George Borjas (2015) stem from the use of a small sub-sample of high school dropouts in the already very small March-CPS sample. That sample is subject to substantial measurement error and no other sample provides the same findings. Being imprecise about the timing of the data and the choice and validation of the control sample further contribute to the impression of an effect from the boatlift in Borjas (2015). We also revisit the non-Boatlift of 1994, considered by Angrist and Krueger (1999) and we do not find consistent deviations of Miami outcomes from the appropriate control that could be mistaken for labor market effects of a Cuban inflow.

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    This paper develops an empirical approach for identifying bank specialization in export markets. Combining loan and shipment data for all exporters in Peru, we find that all banks have abnormally large and persistent loan portfolio exposures to at least one export destination market. Specifications that saturate all bank-time and firm-time variation show that firms that expand exports to a country are more likely to borrow from banks that specialize in that country. This link between exports and bank specialization holds both for existing and new lending relationships. Using differential exposure to the 2008 financial crisis, we further find that shocks to the credit supply of banks has a larger effect on exports to the bank's markets of specialization, implying that specialized bank debt is difficult to replace. These results suggest that banks have market-specific areas of expertise that are distinct from firm-specific knowledge gathered through relationship lending.

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    Congress first imposed an aggregate debt limit in 1939 when it delegated decisions about designing US debt instruments to the Treasury. Before World War I, Congress designed each bond and specified a maximum amount of each bond that the Treasury could issue. It usually specified purposes for which proceeds could be spent. We construct and interpret a Federal debt limit before 1939.

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    We use variation in historical state centralization to examine the impact of institutions on cultural norms. The Kuba Kingdom, established in Central Africa in the early 17th century by King Shyaam, had more developed state institutions than the other independent villages and chieftaincies in the region. It had an unwritten constitution, separation of political powers, a judicial system with courts and juries, a police force and military, taxation, and significant public goods provision. Comparing individuals from the Kuba Kingdom to those from just outside the Kingdom, we find that centralized formal institutions are associated with weaker norms of rule-following and a greater propensity to cheat for material gain.

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    Demand for insurance can be driven by high risk aversion or high risk. We show how to separately identify risk preferences and risk types using only choices from menus of insurance plans. Our revealed preference approach does not rely on rational expectations, nor does it require access to claims data. We show what can be learned non-parametrically from variation in insurance plans, offered separately to random cross-sections or offered as part of the same menu to one cross-section. We prove that our approach allows for full identification in the textbook model with binary risks and extend our results to continuous risks. We illustrate our approach using the Massachusetts Health Insurance Exchange, where choices provide informative bounds on the type distributions, especially for risks, but do not allow us to reject homogeneity in preferences.

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    More than fifty years ago, Friedman and Schwartz examined historical data for the United States and found evidence of pro-cyclical movements in the money stock, which led corresponding movements in output. We find similar correlations in more recent data; these appear most clearly when Divisia monetary aggregates are used in place of the Federal Reserve's official, simple-sum measures. When we use information in Divisia money to estimate a structural vector autoregression, identified monetary policy shocks appear to have large and persistent effects on output and prices, with a lag that has lengthened considerably since the early 1980s.

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    We develop a general equilibrium model that delivers realistic fluctuations in both the level as well as the dispersion in executive pay as a result of changes in the technology frontier. Our model recognizes that executives add value to the firm not only by participating in production decisions, but also by identifying new investment opportunities. The economic value of these two distinct components of the executive's job varies with the state of the economy. Improvements in technology that are specific to new vintages of capital raise the skill price of discovering new growth prospects -- and thus raise the compensation of executives relative to workers. If most of the dispersion in managerial skill lies in the ability to find new projects, dispersion in executive pay will also rise. Our model delivers testable predictions about the relation between executive pay and growth opportunities that are quantitatively consistent with the data.

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    Should China build mega-cities or a network of linked middle-sized metropolises? Can Europe's mid-sized cities compete with global agglomeration by forging stronger inter-urban links? This paper examines these questions within a model of recombinant growth and endogenous local amenities. Three primary factors determine the trade-off between networks and big cities: local returns to scale in innovation, the elasticity of housing supply, and the importance of local amenities. Even if there are global increasing returns, the returns to local scale in innovation may be decreasing, and that makes networks more appealing than mega-cities. Inelastic housing supply makes it harder to supply more space in dense confines, which perhaps explains why networks are more popular in regulated Europe than in the American Sunbelt. Larger cities can dominate networks because of amenities, as long as the benefits of scale overwhelm the downsides of density. In our framework, the skilled are more likely to prefer mega-cities than the less skilled, and the long-run benefits of either mega-cities or networks may be quite different from the short-run benefits.

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    This paper highlights the rare conditions leading to international cooperation, and the reasons why eliciting this cooperation may be beneficial in preventing adverse tail shocks from spiraling into global depressions. In normal times, deeper macro cooperation among countries is associated with welfare gains akin to Harberger's second-order magnitude triangle, making the odds of cooperation low. When bad tail events induce imminent and correlated threats of destabilizing financial markets, the perceived losses have a first-order magnitude of terminating the total Marshalian surpluses. The apprehension of these losses in times of peril may elicit rare and beneficial macro cooperation. We close the paper by overviewing the obstacles preventing cooperation, and the proliferation of precautionary policies of emerging market economies as a second-best outcome of limited cooperation.

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    The compromise effect--a tendency to choose options close to the "middle" of a choice set--has been shown to confound measurement of preferences. In an experiment with 550 participants, we study risk preferences elicited with Multiple Price Lists. Following prior work, we manipulate the compromise effect by varying the middle options of each Multiple Price List and find that measured risk-preference estimates are sensitive to this change in the choice set. To eliminate this bias, we incorporate context effects directly into a structural econometric model. We show that this method generates robust estimates of preference parameters.

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    The dangers of high capital flow volatility and sudden stops have led economists to promote the use of capital controls as an addition to monetary policy in emerging market economies. This paper studies the benefits of capital controls and monetary policy in an open economy with financial frictions, nominal rigidities, and sudden stops. We focus on a time-consistent policy equilibrium. We find that during a crisis, an optimal monetary policy should sharply diverge from price stability. Without commitment, policymakers will also tax capital inflows in a crisis. But this is not optimal from an ex-ante social welfare perspective. An outcome without capital inflow taxes, using optimal monetary policy alone to respond to crises, is superior in welfare terms, but not time-consistent. If policy commitment were in place, capital inflows would be subsidized during crises. We also show that an optimal policy will never involve macro-prudential capital inflow taxes as a precaution against the risk of future crises (whether or not commitment is available).

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    The FDA is considering using its regulatory authority over the tobacco industry to promote public health by restricting the advertising of menthol cigarettes. In this paper we contribute new empirical evidence on the effects of magazine advertisements for menthol cigarettes on cigarette demand. Unlike previous research on cigarette advertising and demand, we use individual-level data and a measure of advertising exposure based on each consumer's magazine-reading habits. These data allow us to control for individual heterogeneity that influences both advertising exposure and cigarette demand. We exploit quasi-experimental variation in advertising exposure in the 2000s created by sharply different supply-side variation in menthol and non-menthol advertising. We examine the importance of controlling for heterogeneity by estimating simple models relating advertising exposure to behavior and then adding specifications that take advantage of the richness of our individual-level data. We examine advertising effects on multiple margins of cigarette demand. Our empirical results do not provide any evidence that menthol advertising in magazines affects cigarette demand at various margins: the probability of menthol use; smoking participation; the number of cigarettes smoked per day; the probability of a past-year quit attempt; and anti-smoking attitudes among teens.

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    Local interests change sharply after the energy booms that began in 2003, when hydraulic fracturing spurred extraction of formerly uneconomic oil and gas reserves. Support for conservative interests rises and Republican political candidates gain votes after booms, leading to a near doubling in the probability of a change in incumbency. All of this change occurs at the expense of Democrats. Voting records of U.S. House members from boom districts become sharply more conservative across a wide range of issues, including issues unrelated to energy policy. At the level of the individual, marginal candidates skew their voting behavior somewhat toward more conservative causes, but generally not enough to maintain power. Thus, even when the stakes are high and politicians risk losing power, ideology trumps ambition.

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    We study the extent to which eminent scientists shape the vitality of their fields by examining entry rates into the fields of 452 academic life scientists who pass away while at the peak of their scientific abilities. Key to our analyses is a novel way to delineate boundaries around scientific fields by appealing solely to intellectual linkages between scientists and their publications, rather than collaboration or co-citation patterns. Consistent with previous research, the flow of articles by collaborators into affected fields decreases precipitously after the death of a star scientist (relative to control fields). In contrast, we find that the flow of articles by non-collaborators increases by 8% on average. These additional contributions are disproportionately likely to be highly cited. They are also more likely to be authored by scientists who were not previously active in the deceased superstar's field. Overall, these results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a field when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone. Intellectual, social, and resource barriers all impede entry, with outsiders only entering subfields that offer a less hostile landscape for the support and acceptance of "foreign" ideas.

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    A large and growing literature documents the adverse impacts of pollution on health, productivity, educational attainment and socioeconomic outcomes. This paper provides the first quasi-experimental evidence that air pollution causally affects criminal activity. We exploit detailed location data on over two million serious crimes reported to the Chicago police department over a twelve-year period. We identify the causal effect of pollution on criminal activity by comparing crime on opposite sides of major interstates on days when the wind blows orthogonally the direction of the interstate and find that violent crime is 2.2 percent higher on the downwind side. Consistent with evidence from psychology on the relationship between pollution and aggression, the effect is unique to violent crimes - we find no effect of pollution on the commission of property crime.

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    During the Great Depression, Building and Loans (B&Ls), the leading home lenders, had a structure that mitigated the crisis. Borrowers were owners of the B&L and dissolution of the institution required a two-thirds majority vote. Using panel data from New Jersey in the 1930s, we find that this voting rule delayed dissolution by about one year. The year delay allowed one-fourth of the borrowers in the at-risk B&L to pay off their loans, but nonborrowers lost share value. The net loss was roughly -0.67 percent of the value of all New Jersey B&L assets in the mid-1930s.

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    I reconstruct the data on Virginia's paper money regime using forensic accounting techniques. I correct the existing data on the amounts authorized and outstanding. In addition, I reconstruct yearly data on previously unknown aspects of Virginia's paper money regime, including printings, net new emissions, redemptions and removals, denominational structures, expected tax revenues, and specie accumulating in the treasury for paper money redemption. These new data form the foundation for narratives written on the social, economic, and political history of Virginia, as well as for testing models of colonial paper money performance.

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