Ricardo Lagos

Ricardo Lagos


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Currently professor of economics at New York University, Ricardo Lagos joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as a consultant in 2015. In previous years he worked at the Minneapolis Fed as a visiting scholar and a senior economist. He has also been a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Banks of Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.

Ricardo received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. He has worked as a lecturer (UK equivalent of assistant professor) in the Department of Economics at the London School of Economics, has taught courses in labor and monetary economics at Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia) and the University of Tokyo, and is a regular visiting professor at Universidad Di Tella (Argentina). His research interests are in macroeconomics, with emphasis on monetary and labor economics.

Ricardo’s research has been published in several journals, including American Economic Review, Econometrica, International Economic Review, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Journal of Political Economy, and Review of Economic Studies. He has served as associate editor of Economica, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Monetary Economics, and Review of Economic Dynamics. He is currently editor of the Journal of Economic Theory.

Turnover Liquidity and the Transmission of Monetary Policy

We provide empirical evidence of a novel liquidity-based transmission mechanism through which monetary policy influences asset markets, develop a model of this mechanism, and assess the ability of the quantitative theory to match the evidence

The Over-the-Counter Theory of the Fed Funds Market: A Primer

We present a dynamic over-the-counter model of the fed funds market and use it to study the determination of the fed funds rate, the volume of loans traded, and the intraday evolution of the distribution of reserve balances across banks. We also investigate the implications of changes in the market structure, as well as the effects of central bank policy instruments such as open market operations, the discount window lending rate, and the interest rate on bank reserves.

Trade Dynamics in the Market for Federal Funds

We develop a model of the market for federal funds that explicitly accounts for its two distinctive features: banks have to search for a suitable counterparty, and once they meet, both parties negotiate the size of the loan and the repayment. The theory is used to answer a number of positive and normative questions: What are the determinants of the fed funds rate? How does the market reallocate funds? Is the market able to achieve an efficient reallocation of funds? We also use the model for theoretical and quantitative analyses of policy issues facing modern central banks.

An Empirical Study of Trade Dynamics in the Fed FUnds Market

We use minute-by-minute daily transaction-level payments data to document the cross-sectional and time-series behavior of the estimated prices and quantities negotiated by commercial banks in the fed funds market. We study the frequency and volume of trade, the size distribution of loans, the distribution of bilateral fed funds rates, and the intraday dynamics of the reserve balances held by commercial banks. We find evidence of the importance of the liquidity provision achieved by commercial banks that act as de facto intermediaries of fed funds.

Asset Prices, Liquidity, and Monetary Policy in the Search Theory of Money

I present a search-based model in which money coexists with equity shares on a risky aggregate endowment. Agents can use equity as a means of payment, so shocks to equity prices translate into aggregate liquidity shocks that disrupt the mechanism of exchange. I characterize a family of optimal monetary policies, and find that the resulting equity prices are independent of monetary considerations. I also study monetary policies that target a constant, but nonzero, nominal interest rate, and find that to the extent that a financial asset is valued as a means to facilitate transactions, the asset’s real rate of return will include a liquidity return that depends on monetary considerations. Through this liquidity channel, persistent deviations from an optimal monetary policy can cause the real prices of assets that can be used to relax trading constraints to exhibit persistent deviations from their fundamental values.

Liquidity in Asset Markets with Search Frictions

We develop a search-theoretic model of financial intermediation and use it to study how trading frictions affect the distribution of asset holdings, asset prices, efficiency, and standard measures of liquidity. A distinctive feature of our theory is that it allows for unrestricted asset holdings, so market participants can accommodate trading frictions by adjusting their asset positions. We show that these individual responses of asset demands constitute a fundamental feature of illiquid markets: they are a key determinant of bid-ask spreads, trade volume, and trading delays—all the dimensions of market liquidity that search-based theories seek to explain.

Search in Asset Markets

We investigate how trading frictions in asset markets affect portfolio choices, asset prices and efficiency. We generalize the search-theoretic model of financial intermediation of Duffie, Gârleanu and Pedersen (2005) to allow for more general preferences and idiosyncratic shock structure, unrestricted portfolio choices, aggregate uncertainty and entry of dealers. With a fixed measure of dealers, we show that a steady-state equilibrium exists and is unique, and provide a condition on preferences under which a reduction in trading frictions leads to an increase in the price of the asset. We also analyze the effects of trading frictions on bid-ask spreads, trade volume and the volatility of asset prices, and find that the asset allocation is constrained-inefficient unless investors have all the bargaining power in bilateral negotiations with dealers. We show that the dealers’ entry decision introduces a feedback that can give rise to multiple equilibria, and that free-entry equilibria are generically inefficient.

Inside and Outside Money

A distinction is drawn between outside money—money that is either of a fiat nature or backed by some asset that is not in zero net supply within the private sector—and inside money, which is an asset backed by any form of private credit that circulates as a medium of exchange.

Asset Prices and Liquidity in an Exchange Economy

I develop an asset-pricing model in which financial assets are valued for their liquidity—the extent to which they are useful in facilitating exchange—as well as for being claims to streams of consumption goods. The implications for average asset returns, the equity-premium puzzle and the risk-free rate puzzle, are explored in a version of the model that nests the work of Mehra and Prescott (1985).

A Model of Job and Worker Flows

We develop a model of gross job and worker flows and use it to study how the wages, permanent incomes, and employment status of individual workers evolve over time. Our model helps explain various features of labor markets, such as the amount of worker turnover in excess of job reallocation, the length of job tenures and unemployment duration, and the size and persistence of the changes in income that workers experience due to displacements or job-to-job transitions. We also examine the effects that labor market institutions and public policy have on the gross flows, as well as on the resulting wage distribution and employment in the equilibrium. From a theoretical standpoint, we propose a notion of competitive equilibrium for random matching environments, and study the extent to which it achieves an efficient allocation of resources.

A Model of TFP

This paper proposes an aggregative model of Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in the spirit of Houthakker (1955–1956). It considers a frictional labor market where production units are subject to idiosyncratic shocks and jobs are created and destroyed as in Mortensen and Pissarides (1994). An aggregate production function is derived by aggregating across micro production units in equilibrium. The level of TFP is explicitly shown to depend on the underlying distribution of shocks as well as on all the characteristics of the labor market as summarized by the job-destruction decision. The model is also used to study the effects of labor-market policies on the level of measured TFP.

A Unified Framework for Monetary Theory and Policy Analysis

Search-theoretic models of monetary exchange are based on explicit descriptions of the frictions that make money essential. However, tractable versions of these models typically need strong assumptions that make them ill-suited for studying monetary policy. We propose a framework based on explicit micro foundations within which macro policy can be analyzed. The model is both analytically tractable and amenable to quantitative analysis. We demonstrate this by using it to estimate the welfare cost of inflation. We find much higher costs than the previous literature: our model predicts that going from 10% to 0% inflation can be worth between 3% and 5% of consumption.

Money and Capital as Competing Media of Exchange

We construct a model where capital competes with fiat money as a medium of exchange, and we establish conditions on fundamentals under which fiat money can be both valued and socially beneficial. When the socially efficient stock of capital is too low to provide the liquidity agents need, they overaccumulate productive assets to use as media of exchange. When this is the case, there exists a monetary equilibrium that dominates the nonmonetary one in terms of welfare. Under the Friedman Rule, fiat money provides just enough liquidity so that agents choose to accumulate the same capital stock a social planner would.

Inflation, Output and Welfare

This paper studies the effects of anticipated inflation on aggregate output and welfare within a search-theoretic framework. We allow money-holders to choose the intensities with which they search for trading partners, so inflation affects the frequency of trade as well as the quantity of output produced in each trade. We consider the standard pricing mechanism for search models, i.e., ex post bargaining, as well as a notion of competitive pricing. If prices are bargained over, the equilibrium is generically inefficient and an increase in inflation reduces buyers’ search intensities, output and welfare. If prices are posted and buyers can direct their search, search intensities are increasing with inflation for low inflation rates and decreasing for high inflation rates. The Friedman Rule achieves the first-best allocation and inflation always reduces welfare even though it can have a positive effect on output for low inflation rates.