Research

Innovation and Production Complementarities

In this paper, I examine the relationship between the number and quality of patents at both the aggregate and industry levels. I find a negative relationship at the aggregate level that, surprisingly, vanishes at the industry level. I reconcile the aggregate and industry relationships by considering interactions between industries. The average correlation between the number of patents in one industry and the quality of patents in another industry turns out to be negative. I propose that the inter-industry relationship results from the outputs of each industry being complements in the production of goods. When the quality of available ideas improves in one industry, that industry's output will increase, which leads to increased demand in the complementary industry. This increases the returns to inventing in the second industry, and results in their inventors developing ideas below the prior quality threshold. I develop a multi-industry innovation model to capture this mechanism. I also provide evidence that the inter-industry relationship strengthens with a measure of complementarities between any two industries.

These findings suggest that production complementarities between industries are an important determinant of innovation, which had not been previously considered. They also contribute to the current debate on U.S. patent policy, where there is a growing belief among scholars and practitioners that the quality of patents has declined during their recent surge in number. This viewpoint largely attributes the surge in patents to their increased value in deterring competition. Instead, I use the model to demonstrate that such a decline could be explained by increased innovative opportunities in certain industries and the corresponding response of complementary industries.

This paper investigates the key factors driving cyclical fluctuations in Canadian consumer insolvency filings, with a focus on the 2008-09 recession where insolvencies jumped by nearly 50%.  Our analysis uses historical data at the national, provincial and city levels, as well as a micro-level analysis which makes use of  filer-level data from a unique dataset of Canadian  insolvency  filers  from 2005-11. We find  that  the  direct  effect of adverse income shocks  (unemployment)  accounts  for  roughly  half the cyclical volatility of filings, while shifts in  “lending standards” account for  roughly a quarter.  We also document an increase in the share of filers with “middle-class” characteristics during the recession --   a larger fraction of filers are homeowners, live with a spouse or a partner, have student loans, earn larger incomes and are middle-aged. Furthermore, the average outstanding total debt of filers is larger during the recession,  suggesting  that  either  income shocks are hitting  middle-class  individuals disproportionately more, or  that rolling-over large debts became more difficult due to  tighter  lending standards.  Interestingly, fluctuations in house prices at the city level  are highly correlated with insolvency rates over the business cycle, suggesting that household balance sheets also play a role in the cyclical fluctuations of filings. 


Aggregate Fluctuations, Consumer Credit and Bankruptcy with Igor Livshits and Jim MacGee

There  are  large  countercyclical fluctuations in  U.S.  bankruptcy filings and real credit card interest rates.    Furthermore  unsecured credit  is pro-cyclical, in contrast to the prediction of standard consumption smoothing  models.  To  quantify  the  contribution of  shocks to  income  and lending standards  in accounting for the cyclical patterns in consumer credit markets, we introduce aggregate fluctuations into a heterogeneous agent life-cycle incomplete market model with a U.S. style bankruptcy regime.  Aggregate fluctuations change the probability of persistent shocks to household earnings, with the likelihood of negative income shocks increasing in recessions. We find that income fluctuations and endogenous borrowing constraints alone cannot generate cyclicality of debt to income and the volatility of filings and interest rates. Incorporating counter-cyclical intermediate shocks to the cost of lending helps  the model match both volatilities, but not the debt pro-cyclicality.   We also find that when there is greater uncertainty over the persistence of income shocks during recessions, the volatility of both filings and interest rates increases, and debt becomes more pro-cyclical.
 
Master's Thesis