Author Archives: James_Hamilton

Lower oil prices

For the last 3 years, European Brent has mostly traded in a range of $100-$120 with West Texas intermediate selling at a $5 to $20 discount. But in September Brent started moving below $100 and now stands at $90 a barrel, and the spread over U.S. domestic crude has narrowed. Here I take a look at some of the factors behind these developments.

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Regimes in macroeconomics

For academic researchers who are readers of this blog (and I know you’re lurking out there), I wanted to call attention to my new paper on Macroeconomic Regimes and Regime Shifts:

Many economic time series exhibit dramatic breaks associated with events such as economic recessions, financial panics, and currency crises. Such changes in regime may arise from tipping points or other nonlinear dynamics and are core to some of the most important questions in macroeconomics. This chapter surveys the literature on regime changes. Section 1 begins with an interpretation of the move of an economy into and out of recession as an example of a change in regime and introduces some of the basic tools for analyzing such phenomena. Section 2 provides a detailed overview of econometric methods that are appropriate for time series that are subject to changes in regime. Section 3 summarizes the ways in which changes in regime can be incorporated into theoretical economic models and briefly reviews applications in a number of areas of macroeconomics.

Reaching for yield

The unfunded liabilities of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association have increased every year for the last five years, reaching $2.45 billion last year, more than quintuple the level in 2008. The calculation of how big the shortfall is assumes that the fund is going to be able to earn a 7.75% return on its investment after subtracting administrative costs. If it earns less than 7.75%, the shortfall will be even bigger. A 10-year Treasury bond currently pays 2.4%, and a typical stock has a dividend yield under 2%. So what do you do if you’re in charge of the system’s $10 billion in assets?

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