Tuesday, October 08, 2013 12:06pm

US Fiscal Risks

Question A: If the United States fails to make scheduled interest or principal payments on government debt securities, even as an unintended consequence of political brinksmanship, US families and businesses are likely to suffer severe economic harm.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question B: With or without a default, current uncertainty over future taxing and spending policies of the US government is likely to depress private investment and hiring by enough to reduce GDP growth by at least a quarter of a percentage point over the next 12 months.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question A Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Strongly Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Strongly Agree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Strongly Agree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Strongly Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Strongly Agree 2
Treasury markets are directly affected, raising US and other borrowing costs. Recipients of federal payments impaired, with a multiplier
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Agree 1
Hard to know consequences of something this unprecedented
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Agree 5
"Severe" is uncertain, but "harm" will be significant. Extent of financial disruptions are hard to predict. Length of default will matter.
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Disagree 6
Unlikely, if they pay a week later.
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Agree 6
This is unknown, of course, but there seems to be decent probabilities on bad stuff happening. It would be a self-inflicted wound.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford No Opinion
Poor question. The federal govt could make its interest payments on current debt even if the debt ceiling were not raised.
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Uncertain 7
Don't know the effect on the market's long-run trust in the US. It may tolerate a few defaults, but don't know how many. Default is risky.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Strongly Agree 9
this would put our status as reserve currency in play; there would probably be forced selling. All bad.
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Agree 5 Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Strongly Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Strongly Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Strongly Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Strongly Agree 8
Financial turmoil and a higher interest rate on the huge debt will harm everyone.
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Strongly Agree 10
Giving away the status of "risk free" to make a political point is the height of stupidity.
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Strongly Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         

Question B Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Uncertain 2
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Disagree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Uncertain 2
I don't have a way to estimate the magnitude of the loss. It is significant, but could be on either side of the indicated amount.
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Disagree 2
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale No Opinion
Stock market has not gone down, so it seems that people are not too worried yet.
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Uncertain 4
I'm confident that the uncertainty is not increasing GDP but the magnitude of the loss is very very difficult to estimate.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Uncertain 7
Odd q! Paying for entitlement prgm liabilities over LT a big problem for econ grwth but ST effects of ST uncertainty not easily quantified.
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Agree 3
magnitude is unsure but the direction is surely correct and my guess is that the magnitude is above 0.25.
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Uncertain 5 Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Agree 5
Close call about how much, but 1/4 point seems a reasonable central guess assuming debt limit resolved before D-day and shutdown < 2 weeks
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Agree 2
The sign is clear, but the magnitude is a much harder call.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Agree 8
A comprehensive tax/entitlement reform, one that would fix US fiscal problems for the next forty years, would be a great "stimulus package."
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago No Opinion
Ain't got no tea leaves.
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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