Working Papers & Papers under Review

Institutional Transparency and the Freedom of (Mis-)Information: Results from a Natural Experiment in Brazil. (pdf)

Should monetary policy committees publish voting records?  This is the question at the heart of the current debate over the optimal design of central banks.  Due to the simultaneous implementation of many policies during the sweeping transparency reforms of the 1990s and early-2000s, isolating the causal effect of publishing voting records in most countries has been difficult.  I overcome this challenge and the reliance on aggregate indices by analyzing a natural experiment in Brazil in which a national Freedom of Information law mandated the publication of voting records beginning in 2012.  The results indicate that, in reverse of their intended effect, publishing voting records makes private inflation forecasts less accurate and lowers consensus among forecasters.  This finding has important implications for the growing number of governments and central banks facing demands for increased monetary policy transparency and accountability of central bankers in the wake of the financial crisis.  

The Consequences of Diversity at the Federal Reserve: An Empirical Analysis of FOMC Voting and Discourse. (pdf)

What are the consequences of diversity on monetary policy committees?  Considerations of diversity are playing a central role in the appointment process at most major central banks around the world, and yet almost no research in political science or political economy speaks to how and why diversity should affect monetary policy decision-making and policy outcomes. Drawing on over fifty years of voting records and transcripts from the meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee at the US Federal Reserve, I provide evidence that suggests diverse appointments do affect policymaking, but not in the ways the extant literature suggests.  Using matching methods I show that while there is no evidence either women or racial minorities vote differently from their non-minority colleagues, diverse committees make substantively different decisions that often reflect the interests of traditionally underrepresented minorities.  I provide a plausible mechanism for this effect by extracting the topical content of FOMC deliberations and demonstrating diverse committees focus a greater proportion of their discussions on issues of greater import to minority groups. 

Causes and Consequences of Preferences over Legal Rules. (with Cliff Carrubba and Georg Vanberg)

Collegial high courts are primarily "in the business" of constructing legal rules that structure interactions within their polities. Legal rules shape the "order of interactions" both because they instruct lower courts on how to resolve disputes that come before them, but also because they affect how private and public individuals interact with one another in anticipation of how courts would resolve disputes brought before them. We propose a theory that explicitly derives judges' preferences over rules from how those rules will structure future societal behavior. This analysis provides a parsimonious explanation the mounting evidence that majority opinions more closely reflect the preferences of the median of the majority coalition rather than the median of the chamber. It also provides a nuanced set of results over who will form majorities, and what sorts of majority opinions (if any) they will produce as a function of the societal consequences of rules.