Essays on Fiscal and Monetary Policy
The three chapters of this dissertation investigate how micro level phenomena affect aggregate outcomes and challenge basic fiscal and monetary principles. In particular, I analyze how these phenomena affect the transmission mechanisms and outcomes of specific fiscal and monetary policies in emerging markets. In Chapter 1, I investigate the transmission of monetary policy to retail interest rates using a novel transaction-level data set that includes all corporate loans of every commercial bank in Mexico from 2005 to 2010. In particular, I analyze the speed and completeness of the pass-through of the monetary policy rate to bank lending rates, and provide evidence on the importance of bank competition to explain heterogeneity in the way banks react to monetary policy impulses along the business cycle. For this purpose, I develop a simple model of the banking firm and test its implications using dynamic panel data methods. I find that: (1) interest rate pass-through is sluggish and incomplete; (2) the degree of bank competition is positively correlated with the completeness of the interest rate pass-through; and (3) interest rate pass-through is asymmetric: lending rates adjust less in the case of monetary policy easing than in the case of tightening. Chapter 2 draws from a district-level database to investigate the local impact on socioeconomic outcomes of mining-related revenue windfalls in Peru, which have grown almost twentyfold in the last two decades. I find evidence that improvements in average living standards are related to the mining activity but independent from fiscal revenue windfalls at the district level, where inefficiencies in the use of public funds may be accounting for the disconnect between fiscal revenues and socioeconomic outcomes. In Chapter 3, I investigate how the fiscal institutional framework has given rise to deficit and procyclical biases in the case of Mexico, and evaluate how the use of alternative fiscal rules may affect these biases. For the latter, I conduct a series of simulations using an unrestricted VAR model that allows me to evaluate the effect on fiscal outcomes of a constellation of shocks calibrated to match Mexican historical macro-data. I find that Mexico´s fiscal framework allows the conduct of a countercyclical fiscal policy during economic recessions; however, it does not contemplate a mechanism to generate buffers during economic expansions. Thus, fiscal policy is oftentimes procyclical and has a built-in deficit bias. Moreover, I find that a budget balance rule with an expenditure cap is able to mimic the results of a rule based on a cyclically adjusted balance in terms of reducing the procyclical and deficit biases, with the advantage of not having to rely on an autonomous fiscal agency, which is usually absent under weak institutional frameworks.