This dissertation consists of two essays. In the first essay we use the occupation, incorporation and bankruptcy decisions of entrepreneurs to learn about the extent of the risks faced by entrepreneurs and the available insurance against them. Entrepreneurship is risky; entrepreneurs forgo wages and invest their time and resources into a business with large potential gains, but uninsurable risks. It is vital to know the extent of these risks, and the insurance available against them, in order to assess corporate tax and personal bankruptcy reforms. We document that incorporated entrepreneurs operate larger businesses, accumulate more wealth, and are on average more productive than unincorporated entrepreneurs. We embed the U.S. bankruptcy and incorporation legal systems in a quantitative macroeconomic theory of occupation, incorporation, and default choices that accounts for the cross-sectional facts. In the model, as in the U.S., incorporation provides insurance via limited liability beyond personal bankruptcy exemptions, at the expense of administrative burdens and an endogenous interest rate premium. Our model suggests that capital embodied shocks are important entrepreneurial risks. A calibrated economy in which each unit of installed capital entails a small probability (1.0%) of a catastrophic shock (full destruction of capital) is able to account for the data along multiple untargeted dimensions.
In the second essay we analyze the savings behavior of developing economies. Developing countries experiencing rapid TFP growth tend to run current account surpluses. This finding is puzzling in the context of the neoclassical growth model, which predicts that these countries should be net borrowers (Gourinchas and Jeanne, 2009). We account for this puzzle by introducing a non-tradable sector to an otherwise standard growth model. We propose that complementarity between tradable and non-tradable goods is key. With an initially underdeveloped non-tradable sector, a representative household is willing to trade a portion of current tradable output in exchange for tradable goods in the future when its production of non-tradable goods increases. A drawback of the simplest version of the model is that faster growing countries experience a reduction in the relative price of non-tradable goods.