Faculty & Research

Joseph S. Vavra

Assistant Professor of Economics

Phone :
Address :
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Joseph Vavra, Assistant Professor of Economics, studies macroeconomics and monetary economics, labor, and computational economics. In his recent research he argues that monetary policy is less effective during volatile recessions. He also has work studying how durable consumption responds to stimulus, and how prices respond to exchange rate movements.

Vavra holds multiple degrees (Ph.D., M.Phil., M.A.) all in economics from Yale University. Additionally, he earned a B.A. (magna cum laude) in math, mathematical economic analysis, and statistics from Rice University.

In addition to Vavra’s teaching fellow and research assistant positions, he has experience working as an intern at the White House Council of Economic Advisors. His interests outside of economics include scuba diving, food, and travel.


2014 - 2015 Course Schedule

Number Name Quarter
33040 Macroeconomics 2015 (Winter)
33949 Applied Macroeconomics: Heterogeneity and Macro 2015 (Winter)

Other Interests

Food, scuba diving, snowboarding


Research Activities

My research interests are in empirical macroeconomics, business cycles and monetary policy, with a particular focus on the implications of microdata for aggregate phenomenon and on whether the same policies may have different effects if engaged during different phases of the business cycle.

New: Housing Wealth Effects and Retail Prices
Date Posted: Sep  24, 2014
We document a causal response of local retail prices to changes in house prices, with elasticities of 15%-20% across both housing booms and housing busts. We find the effect to be larger in zip codes with many home owners, and non-existent in zip codes with mostly renters. Marginal costs for retailers do not vary systematically, so changes in retail prices are best explained by changes in retailers' markups. Consistent with this, data on the shopping behavior of households shows that following an increase in house prices, homeowners become less price-sensitive, while renters become more price sensitive. This suggests an important new channel for business cycle models: positive wealth shocks cause households' price sensitivity to fall, which leads firms to increase markups. These procyclical markups endogenously dampen the stimulative effects of monetary and fiscal policy in New Keynesian models.