HKU Business School. My research covers topics such as labor market structure, boundary of the firm, money and barter, and housing. Here is my CV. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Twitter.
If you’re a student at HKU interested in monetary, organizational, labor, macro, or applied theory, I’m occasionally looking for RAs and happy to work with PhD students. Feel free to email me!
(with Duoxi Li)
Last Updated: November 2022
Abstract (click to expand): We develop and test a model of labor market dynamics with domestic outsourcing, productivity shocks, and endogenous separations. In the model, outsourcing may reduce worker rents, smooth labor demand, or both. Depending on the relative strengths of these two effects, outsourcing has different effects on worker hazard into non-employment. We use comprehensive administrative data on security guards and cleaners from Brazil to quantify the two effects. The estimates suggest that outsourcing significantly smoothed labor demand among security guards but did not significantly reduce their rents. By contrast, outsourcing had both demand-smoothing and large rent-stripping effects on the lower-wage occupation of cleaners.
(with Mayara Felix)
Last Updated: December 2021
Abstract (click to expand): We analyze the effect of domestic outsourcing on labor markets using Brazil's unexpected legalization of outsourcing in 1993, which sharply increased outsourcing among security guards. We show that outsourcing legalization led to a wave of occupational layoffs. Incumbent security guards affected by the layoffs moved to lower-wage firms and experienced persistent wage reductions. However, outsourcing legalization also had positive market-level effects, as revealed by a triple-difference specification that uses regional variation in the pre-legalization permissiveness of labor courts and compares security guards with less impacted occupations. Jobs were reallocated from older to younger workers. Total employment of security guards rose by 8-15% and their average wages increased by 2-4%. Interpreted through an economic framework, the results imply that outsourcing legalization benefitted entrant workers and generated lasting efficiency gains. If laid-off incumbent workers were fully compensated for their earnings losses, social breakeven would be achieved in one to five years.
Last Updated: February 2022
Abstract (click to expand): I analyze how digital currency issuance by a private online platform affected the volume of trade in a large barter community in Toronto. The community initially banned cash, but subsequently introduced a digital token that could be transferred among users and redeemed at designated local stores for retail goods. Using comprehensive transactions data, I show that a large monetary expansion persistently increased transaction volume by 70% by enabling monetized trade. However, when token redemption was suddenly halted at a subset of stores, a run on the token ensued and transaction volume fell. The findings are consistent with a search-theoretic model wherein money functions as a medium of exchange.
Presentation Video (September 2022)
Last Updated: May 2023
Abstract (click to expand): When designing public housing programs, governments must choose whether to rent or sell, whether to conduct regular income checks, and whether to allow transfer of sold units. This paper analyzes how the transferability and contingency of occupancy rights granted to public housing participants affect program efficiency and targeting. Specifically, I study Hong Kong’s Tenants Purchase Scheme, which converted 120,000 rental units into ownership units with transfer restrictions. Leveraging its staggered roll-out between 1998 and 2006, I show that the scheme reduced household sizes and increased incomes in treated estates, did not reduce misallocation, and likely worsened targeting of low-income households.
(with Matthew Gentzkow and Allen T. Zhang)
Last Updated: March 2023
Revise and resubmit, AEJ: Micro
Abstract (click to expand): We study the role of endogenous trust in amplifying ideological bias. Agents in our model learn a sequence of states from sources whose accuracy is ex ante uncertain. Agents learn these accuracies by comparing their own reasoning about the states based on introspection or direct experience to the sources' reports. Small biases in this reasoning can cause large ideological differences in the agents' trust in information sources and their beliefs about the states, and may lead agents to become overconfident in their own reasoning. Disagreements can be similar in magnitude whether agents see only ideologically aligned sources or diverse sources.
Work in Progress
The Firm as a Nexus of Relational Contracts
(with Duoxi Li)
Means of Payment vs. Media of Exchange
(with Baiyun Jing)
Digital Money Adoption and Redemption Convenience
(with Baiyun Jing, Yang You, and Yulin Zhong)
Upcoming: Instructor for HKU’s PMGM7004 (Global Management from Economics Perspectives) and PMGM7019 (Economics of Strategy and Organization).
Previous: TA for MIT’s Intro Micro (undergrad, 2022), Intermediate Micro (undergrad, 2018-20), Applied Econ for Managers (EMBA, 2019), Org Econ (PhD, 2018), and Industrial Organization II (PhD, 2022).
Things I learned in Grad School (the Hard Way)
What Caused Hong Kong’s Housing Crisis?
(Hong Kong Economic Policy Green Paper, 2022-9-23, Twitter thread)
香港房屋危機之謎 (香港經濟政策綠皮書, 2022-9-23)
In Hong Kong’s Olympic glory, a glimpse of a hopeful new future (SCMP, 2021-8-4)
Liberal or conservative, Hongkongers must learn to listen to those they disagree with (SCMP, 2019-9-7, with Spike Lee and Josephine Au)
預算案500億推創科 怎用得其所 (香港經濟日報, 2018-3-18)
社會面對新挑戰 須3方面調整 (香港經濟日報, 2017-9-13)