Welcome

2015-12-BW

I have recently graduated with a PhD in Economics from the University of Copenhagen and am currently working as a Principal Economist at Symantec.

My research interests are Macroeconomics, Household Finance and Applied Econometrics.

Please see my CV for contact information.

Publications

Precautionary Borrowing and the Credit Card Debt Puzzle, with Jeppe Druedahl (University of Copenhagen). (Forthcoming in Quantitative Economics)
We show that the credit card debt puzzle –20% of US households pay high interest on their credit card debt while having enough cash to pay off most/all of their debt– can be an optimal consumer strategy. We first document that households risk losing access to credit card borrowing if they lose their job. Since credit card debt –in effect– is installment debt, holding a significant amount of cash in a bank account can serve as insurance against negative income shocks for a household. Hence, it is optimal to engage in (precautionary) borrowing: paying a high interest to keep cash in the bank while simultaneously having a sizable credit card debt.

Working Papers

Non-Parametric Estimation of Marginal Propensities to Consume: New Evidence from Regression Splines, with Andreas Kuchler (Danmarks Nationalbank). [Working paper version]
We investigate a non-parametric method to estimating marginal propensities to consume (MPC) using regression splines. Our approach complements existing methods by relaxing a number of strong requirements on the part of the theory, otherwise necessary to acquire identification. Specifically, we show that a regression spline of consumption on income and assets yields a surprisingly precise estimate of the MPC at the household-level using only cross-sectional data. We use our proposed method to estimate the marginal propensity to consume for each household in Denmark, using detailed tax records on income and wealth.
We estimate an aggregate MPC out of liquid assets of 49%, but with considerable heterogeneity over the wealth distribution. For example, we find the difference between the estimated MPC for the average household in the 2nd income decile compared to the 8th income decile to be more than 30 percentage points.

Expenditure Switching and Welfare Implications, with Leslie Sheng Shen (UC, Berkeley). Draft Available Upon Request.
This paper quantifies and evaluates a new channel by which consumers smooth consumption in response to income shocks-the quality channel of consumption reallocation. Using detailed micro-level panel data on household expenditures, we decompose households’ consumption behaviour into a quality and a quantity component. In the face of local unemployment fluctuations we find considerable heterogeneity in the degree of consumption reallocation on both margins across income groups. Middle-income and high-income households adjust their consumption by both consuming cheaper goods as well as fewer goods when unemployment increases. In contrast, the low-income households do not adjustment their quality margin. Furthermore, we provide evidence suggesting that the low-income households already purchase the lowest quality products available in the stores in which they shop. This suggests the low-income households are constrained in their ability to downgrade on the quality margin of consumption when hit by negative income shocks.


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