Reading Group

Practical Details

This is not a course but a reading group. What I suggest is the following:

  • We meet two times, each time we meet for approximately 90 minutes.
  • For each meeting, you choose a paper from the list below to “present” for approximately 25 minutes followed by 15-20 minutes of discussion for all of us. Let me know which paper you plan to present one week in advance. If you want to pick a paper that is not on the list, let me know.
  • Make a simple slideshow presentation (i.e., PowerPoint). No need to get fancy with colors or anything. A simple black and white presentation with some figures from the paper is fine. The other participants are expected to have skimmed the paper for 10-20 minutes but not to have read it closely.

What should you discuss? First, try to describe the main point of the paper. Try to not be too critical, instead, ask yourself why the authors’ argument is compelling (these are after all pretty good papers). Then, after you have made a compelling case for why the author is right, discuss potential shortcomings (i.e., why the author is wrong). If you are confused about something, bring it up for discussion. Side note: Confusion can be an excellent start for a research project.

Research is an ongoing conversation between different theories or ways to look at the world. There is disagreement about how to look at the world, and sometimes there is even disagreement about what you may have thought was a matter of “facts”. To reflect the conversational nature of research, the papers on the list below are all accompanied by discussions (reflections from another researcher). Make sure to read these discussions closely. In fact, often you may learn as much if not more from the discussions than from the paper itself.

If the paper is very long (or very difficult) focus on some parts and try to explain them well, rather than a superficial description of the whole paper. Do not worry if you do not understand all of the paper! Few people do.

This is a completely informal group so the idea of the presentations is not to put too much pressure on you. Instead, the idea is that we collectively walk through nine papers which may be of interest to all of us (including me!).


The papers are from the NBER Macroeconomics Annual, the Jackson Hole Symposium, and the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Feel free to suggest a different paper from these three sources.

NBER Macroeconomics Annual

  • Rossi-Hansberg, Sarte and Trachter “Diverging Trends in National and Local Concentration”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2020
  • Hubmer, Krusell and Smith, “Sources of U.S. Wealth Inequality: Past, Present, and Future”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2020
  • Karabarbounis and Neiman, “Accounting for Factorless Income”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2018
  • Cochrane, “Michelson-Morley, Fisher, and Occam: The Radical Implications of Stable Quiet Inflation at the Zero Bound”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2017
  • Adelino, Schoar, Severino, “Dynamics of Housing Debt in the Recent Boom and Great Recession”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2017
  • Campbell, Fisher, Justiniano, and Melosi, “Forward Guidance and Macroeconomic Outcomes since the Financial Crisis”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2016
  • Fang, Gu, Xiong, and Zhou, “Demystifying the Chinese Housing Boom”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2015
  • Arellano, Atkeson, and Wright, “External and Public Debt Crises”, NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2015

Jackson Hole Symposium

  • Akcigit and Ates, “Slowing Business Dynamism and Productivity Growth in the United States”, Jackson Hole Symposium 2020
  • Kozlowski, Veldkamp, Venkateswaran, “Scarring Body and Mind: The Long-Term Belief-Scarring Effects of COVID-19”, Jackson Hole Symposium 2020
  • van Reenen, “Increasing Differences Between Firms: Market Power and the Macroeconomy”, Jackson Hole Symposium 2018
  • Cavallo, “More Amazon Effects: Online Competition and Pricing Behaviors”, Jackson Hole Symposium 2018

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity

  • Rachel and Summers, “On Secular Stagnation in the Industrialized World”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2019
  • Romer and Romer, “Fiscal Space and the Aftermath of Financial Crises: How It Matters and Why”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2019
  • Autor and Salomons, “Is Automation Labor Share–Displacing? Productivity Growth, Employment, and the Labor Share”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2018
  • Del Negro, Giannone, Giannoni, and Tambalotti, “Safety, Liquidity, and the Natural Rate of Interest”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2017
  • Farhi and Gourio, “Accounting for Macro-Finance Trends: Market Power, Intangibles, and Risk Premia”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2018

Collections of papers:

With discussants/discussion:


Interesting presentations:

Karl Harmenberg
Karl Harmenberg
Associate professor