Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS)
Staff working papers in the Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS) investigate a broad range of issues in economics and finance, with a focus on the U.S. economy and domestic financial markets.
Recently, the experience of the 1960s—when the U.S. inflation rate rose rapidly and persistently over a comparatively short period—has been invoked as a cautionary tale for the present. An analysis of this period indicates that the inflation regime that prevailed in the 1960s was different in several key regards from the one that prevailed on the eve of the pandemic. Hence, there are few useable lessons to be drawn from this experience, save that monetary policymaking remains a difficult undertaking.
Is the Phillips curve dead? If so, who killed it? Conventional wisdom has it that the sound monetary policy since the 1980s not only conquered the Great Inflation, but also buried the Phillips curve itself. This paper provides an alternative explanation: labor market policies that have eroded worker bargaining power might have been the source of the demise of the Phillips curve. We develop what we call the "Kaleckian Phillips curve", the slope of which is determined by the bargaining power of trade unions. We show that a nearly 90 percent reduction in inflation volatility is possible even without any changes in monetary policy when the economy transitions from equal shares of power between workers and firms to a new balance in which firms dominate. In addition, we show that the decline of trade union power reduces the share of monopoly rents appropriated by workers, and thus helps explain the secular decline of labor share, and the rise of profit share. We provide time series and cross sectional evidence.
We study aggregate, distributional, and welfare effects of a permanent reduction in the capital tax rate in a quantitative model with capital-skill complementarity and household heterogeneity. Such a tax reform leads to expansionary long-run aggregate output and investment effects, but those are coupled with increases in wage, consumption, and income inequality. The tax reform is not self-financing and its effects depend crucially on whether the government cuts lump-sum transfers or raises distortionary labor or consumption tax rates for financing. The former results in a larger aggregate expansion, but at the expense of a greater rise in inequality. As a result, the latter is relatively more beneficial for unskilled households. We find that the tax reform, when the consumption tax rate adjusts, leads to a Pareto improvement in terms of life-time welfare. For transition dynamics, monetary policy, in addition to the fiscal adjustments, matters. In particular, if monetary policy inflates away a portion of the public debt, the economy can avoid the short-run contraction that would arise otherwise.
The standard model of permanent and transitory income is known to be misspecified. Estimates of income volatility in the model differ depending on the type of data moments used—levels or differences—and how these moments are weighted in the estimation. We propose two changes to the standard model. First, we account for the time-aggregated nature of observed income data. Second, we allow transitory shocks to persist for varying lengths of time. With only one additional parameter, our proposed model consistently recover the parameters of the income process irrespective of the estimation method. To the extent that researchers employ the standard model, we advise special caution with the use of first-difference moments.
This paper studies the effects of a unique multi-day cyberattack on a technology service provider (TSP). Using several confidential daily datasets, we identify and quantify first- and second-round effects of the event. For banks using relevant services of the TSP, the attack impaired their ability to send payments over Fedwire, even though the Federal Reserve extended the time they had to submit payments. This impairment (first-round effect) caused other banks to receive fewer payments (second-round effect), leaving them at risk of having too few reserves to send their own payments (a potential third-round effect). These innocent-bystander banks responded differently depending on their size and reserve holdings. Those with sufficient reserves drew down their reserves. Of the others, smaller banks borrowed from the discount window, while larger banks borrowed in the federal funds market. These significant adjustments to operations and funding prevented the second-round effect from spilling over into third-round effect and broader financial instability. These findings highlight the important role for bank contingency planning, liquidity buffers, and the Federal Reserve in supporting the financial system’s recovery from a cyberattack.
Our paper studies the role of the collateral channel for bank credit using confidential bank-firm-loan data. We estimate that for a 1 percent increase in collateral values, firms pledging real estate collateral experience a 12 basis point higher growth in bank lending with higher sensitivities for more credit constrained firms. Higher real estate values boost firm capital expenditures and lead to lower unemployment and higher employment growth and business creation. Our estimates imply that as much as 37 percent of employment growth over the period from 2013 to 2019 can be attributed to the relaxation of borrowing constraints.
Keywords: bank credit, collateral channel, corporate investment, firm borrowing constraints, macro-finance mechanisms
Credit default swaps (CDS) are the most common type of credit derivative. This paper provides a brief history of the CDS market and discusses its main characteristics. After describing the basic mechanics of a CDS, I present a simple valuation framework that focuses on the relationship between conditions in the cash and CDS markets as well as an approach to mark to market existing CDS positions. The discussion highlights how the 2008 global financial crisis helped shape current practices and conventions in the CDS market, including the widespread adoption of standardized coupons and upfront premiums and the increased reliance on centralized counterparties. I also address CDS indexes--focusing on their growing role as key indicators of investors’ attitudes toward credit risk--and briefly examine their behavior during periods of acute financial or economic dislocations, including those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: credit derivatives, credit default swaps, credit risk, CDX, credit curves, CDS-cash basis, CDS valuation
The use of stress testing for macroprudential objectives is advanced by modeling spillovers within the financial sector or between the real and financial sectors. In this chapter, we discuss several macroprudential elements that capture these spillovers and how they might be added to stress test frameworks. We show how funding spillovers can be modeled as an add-on, using a reduced-form relation between banks’ funding cost, bank capital and economic activity. Using a calibration to US data, we project very modest funding spillovers conditional on the DFAST 2018 severely adverse scenario. We describe the pros and cons of modeling different types of spillovers using this approach.
Keywords: Bank capital, Funding shocks, Macroprudential policy, Stress testing
Crisis Liquidity Facilities with Nonbank Counterparties: Lessons from the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility
In response to immense strains in the asset-backed securities market in 2008 and 2020, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury twice launched the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF). TALF was an unusual crisis facility because it provided loans to a wide range of nonbank financial institutions. Using detailed loan-level data unexplored by previous researchers, we study the behavior of nonbank borrowers in TALF. We find the extent to which the actions of these borrowers supported key program goals--stabilizing markets quickly, winding down the program when it was no longer needed, providing liquidity to a wide range of assets, and having borrowers internalize credit risk rather than shift it to the government--were related to institutional differences across nonbanks. Since all TALF borrowers faced the same program terms and conditions, our study is able to highlight the role of these institutional constraints.
What are the implications of information technology (IT) in banking for financial stability? Data on US banks' IT equipment and the background of their executives reveals that higher pre-crisis IT adoption led to fewer non-performing loans and more lending during the global financial crisis. Empirical evidence indicates a direct role of IT adoption in strengthening bank resilience; this includes instrumental variable estimates exploiting the historical location of technical schools. Loan-level analysis shows that high-IT banks originated mortgages with better performance, indicating better borrower screening. No evidence points to offloading of low-quality loans, differences in business models, or enhanced monitoring.
Saving and Wealth Accumulation among Student Loan Borrowers: Implications for Retirement Preparedness
Borrowing for education has increased rapidly in the past several decades, such that the majority of non-housing debt on US households' balance sheets is now student loan debt. This chapter analyzes the implications of student loan borrowing for later-life economic well-being, with a focus on retirement preparation. We demonstrate that families holding student loan debt later in life have less savings than their similarly educated peers without such debt. However, these comparisons are misleading if the goal is to characterize the experience of the typical student borrower, as they fail to account for student borrowers who already paid off their debt. We develop strategies to locate families that ever financed their education with student loans in two large datasets which enables us to draw more meaningful comparisons. We find that student loan borrowers roughly follow the earnings, saving, and wealth trajectories of other college-educated families into late-career ages and are much better off financially than those that did not attend college.
I study the business cycle properties of wage posting models with random search, for which the distributions of employment and wages play a nontrivial role for the equilibrium path. In fact, the main result of this paper is that the distribution of firms is one of the most important elements to understand business cycle fluctuations in the labor market. The distribution of firms (1) determines which shocks are relevant for the labor market, (2) implies that wage rigidity does not significantly amplify shocks, and (3) puts discipline on the relative value of the flow opportunity cost of employment. To assess these type of models quantitatively, I propose a new algorithm that finds the steady state and computes transitional dynamics rapidly. Hence, integrating wage posting models with random search to larger models becomes possible (and easy) with this new algorithm.
Keywords: Wage Posting, Search and Matching, Stochastic Simulations
We study the role of mortgage servicers in implementing the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite universal eligibility, around one-third of the nonperforming federally-backed loans in our sample fail to enter into forbearance. The relative frequency of these "missing" forbearances varies significantly across servicers for observably similar loans, with small servicers and nonbanks, and especially nonbanks with small liquidity buffers, having a lower propensity to provide forbearance. The incidence of forbearance-related complaints by borrowers is also higher for these servicers. We also use servicer-level variation to estimate the causal effect of forbearance on borrower outcomes. Assignment to a "high-forbearance" servicer translates to a significant increase in the probability of nonpayment, which moves essentially 1:1 with the forbearance probability. Part of this additional household liquidity is used to pay down high-cost credit card debt.
Keywords: mortgage, forbearance, debt relief, CARES Act, COVID-19, liquidity
Inflation was low and stable in the United States during the first two decades of the 21st century and broke out of its stable range in 2021. Experience in the early 21st century differed from that of the second half of the 20th century, when inflation showed persistent movements including the "Great Inflation" of the 1970s. This analysis examines the extent to which the experience from 2000-2019 should lead a Bayesian decisionmaker to update their assessment of inflation dynamics. Given a prior for inflation dynamics consistent with 1960-1999 data, a Bayesian decisionmaker would not update their view of inflation persistence in light of 2000-2019 data unless they placed very low weight on their prior information. In other words, 21st century data contains very little information to dissuade a Bayesian decisionmaker of the view that inflation fluctuations are persistent, or "unanchored". The intuition for, and implications of, this finding are discussed.
Keywords: Inflation; Phillips Curve; Econometric Modeling.
Hurricane Harvey brought more than four feet of rainfall to the Houston area in August 2017, leading to substantial flooding in many areas. Using regulatory data with detailed information on borrowing terms, we compare the borrowing response to Hurricane Harvey in parts of Houston that were more and less affected by flooding. We find that hurricane-affected households borrowed in a price-sensitive and time-limited manner, relying almost exclusively on promotional-rate credit cards and mortgage forbearance for new credit and repaying balances quickly. We find that conditional on flooding, households in FEMA-designated floodplains borrowed less. Within the floodplain, building code changes that required homes to be elevated above the floodplain dramatically reduced households’ storm-related liquidity use. Flooded borrowers in homes subject to this type of physical hardening used forbearance at the same rate as borrowers who did not experience flooding, suggesting that for natural disasters, ex ante physical hardening is a substitute for ex post credit.
We propose a method to decompose stock returns period by period. First, we argue that one can directly estimate expected stock returns from securities available in modern financial markets (using the real yield curve and the Martin (2017) equity risk premium). Second, we derive a return decomposition which is based on stock price elasticities with respect to expected returns and expected dividends. We calculate elasticities from dividend futures. Our decomposition is an alternative to the Campbell-Shiller log-linearization which relies on an assumption about the log-linearization constant. An application to the COVID crisis in 2020 reveals that risk premium changes drove much of the crash and rebound in the S&P500 while a fall in long-term real yields drove a strong positive return for 2020 as a whole.
This paper studies competitive market shutdowns due to adverse selection, where sellers post nonexclusive menus of contracts. We first show that the presence of the worst type of agents (moldy lemons) causes markets to fail only if their mass is sufficiently large. We then show that a small mass of moldy lemons can lead to a large cascade of exits when buyers possess outside options. Finally, we show that more precise information about agents' types makes markets more prone to exit cascades. The model is general and does not rely on institution details or structure, and thus can be applied to many different markets and context.
Note: The title of this paper was updated after initial publication.
Money market funds (MMFs) are popular around the world, with over $9 trillion in assets under management globally. From their origins in the 1970s, MMFs have operated in a niche between the capital markets and the banking system, as investment funds that offer private money‐like assets with features similar to those of bank deposits. Hence, they are vulnerable to runs that arise from liquidity transformation and from sudden changes in investor perceptions of the funds’ ability to serve as money‐like assets. Since 2000, MMF runs have occurred in many countries and under many regulatory regimes. The global pattern of runs and crises shows that MMF vulnerabilities are not unique to a particular set of governing arrangements, and that mitigating these vulnerabilities requires fundamental reforms that either place MMFs more clearly within the investment‐fund sector or establish protections for MMFs similar to those for deposits.
This paper explores the factors behind differences in wages between manufacturing and other sectors. Using data from the Current Population Survey, we find that the manufacturing wage premium—the additional pay a manufacturing worker earns relative to a comparable nonmanufacturing worker—disappeared in recent years and that the erosion of the premium has primarily affected workers employed in production occupations, who experienced a wage decline of 2.5 percentage points since the 1990s relative to other workers in production occupations. While the demographic composition and other worker observables introduce level differences in manufacturing premia, our analysis suggests that they are not responsible for the declining trends. A decomposition of the premium by union membership status reveals that declines have been substantially larger across union members. To quantify the role of unionization membership on wage premia, we exploit the heterogeneity in membership status across industries within manufacturing. We find that the decline in union membership explains more than 70 percent of the decline in premia since the 1990s for union members, but the declines in unionization rates have not significantly affected non-union premia, which have instead responded to other factors, such as capital intensity. Our findings suggest that the erosion of “good” manufacturing jobs has contributed to the increase in overall wage inequality and could accelerate the decline of the manufacturing sector.
Prevailing explanations of persistently low interest rates appeal to a secular decline in the natural interest rate, or r-star, due to factors outside monetary policy's control. We propose informational feedback via learning as an alternative explanation for persistently low rates, where monetary policy plays a crucial role. We extend the canonical New Keynesian model to an incomplete information setting where the central bank and the private sector learn about r-star and infer each other's information from observed macroeconomic outcomes. An informational feedback loop emerges when each side underestimates the effect of its own action on the other's inference, possibly leading to large and persistent changes in perceived r-star disconnected from fundamentals. Monetary policy, through its influence on the private sector's beliefs, endogenously determines r-star as a result. We simulate a calibrated model and show that this `hall-of-mirrors' effect can explain much of the decline in real interest rates since 2008.
Keywords: Dispersed information, Learning, Long-term rates, Misperception, Monetary policy shocks, Natural rate of interest, Overreaction
Updated Primer on the Forward-Looking Analysis of Risk Events (FLARE) Model: A Top-Down Stress Test Model
While the bank stress test exercise conducted by the Federal Reserve System is a critical policy tool for assessing the health of large banks, the Federal Reserve has worked to build additional tools to assess the resiliency of the banking system as a whole and to address macroprudential goals. The Forward-Looking Analysis of Risk Events (FLARE) model is one such tool. This technical note describes the FLARE model, which is a top-down model that helps assess how well the banking system is positioned to weather exogenous macroeconomic shocks. FLARE estimates banking system capital under varying macroeconomic scenarios, time horizons, and other systemic shocks.
This paper studies the impact of unanticipated monetary policy news around FOMC announcements on secondary market corporate loan spreads. I find that the reaction of loan spreads to monetary policy news is weaker than that of bond spreads: following an unanticipated monetary policy tightening (easing) shock, loan spreads do not increase (decrease) as much as bond spreads do. Decomposition of the spreads into compensations for expected defaults and risk premiums shows that differential reactions of loan and bond risk premiums are the main driver of the differential spread reactions. This paper further finds that the weaker loan spread reactions to monetary policy shocks are more pronounced for riskier loans. Lastly, reactions of primary market loan spreads to monetary policy shocks are also muted. These findings highlight heterogeneous impacts of monetary policy across different types of corporate credit markets, possibly reflecting heterogeneous investor demand responses to monetary policy in those markets.
We provide new evidence on the effect of education on later life health. Using variation in state compulsory schooling laws, we examine education's effect on a range of outcomes encompassing physical health, decision-making, and life expectancy. We employ under-utilized Health and Retirement Study data linked to restricted geographic identifiers, allowing us to match individuals more accurately to compulsory schooling laws. While positively related to educational attainment, compulsory schooling laws have no significant effect on later life health outcomes. Our results suggest that increased educational attainment has no significant causal effect on health.
This paper reviews literature on the empirical relationship between vulnerabilities in the financial system and the macroeconomy, and how monetary policy affects that connection. Financial vulnerabilities build up over time, with both risk appetite and risk taking rising during economic expansions. To some extent, financial crises are predictable and have severe real economic consequences when they occur. Empirically it is difficult to link monetary policy to financial vulnerabilities, in part because financial cycles have long durations, making it difficult to separate effects of changes in monetary policy from other business cycle effects.
This paper reviews the theoretical literature at the intersection of macroeconomics and finance to draw lessons on the connection between vulnerabilities in the financial system and the macroeconomy, and on how monetary policy affects that connection. This literature finds that financial vulnerabilities are inherent to financial systems and tend to be procyclical. Moreover, financial vulnerabilities amplify the effects of adverse shocks to the economy, so that even a small shock to fundamentals or a small revision of beliefs can create a self-reinforcing feedback loop that impairs credit provision, lowers asset prices, and depresses economic activity and inflation. Finally, monetary policy may affect the buildup of vulnerabilities, but the sign of the impact along some of its transmission channels is theoretically ambiguous and may vary with the state of the economy.
Balancing Before and After: Treasury Market Reform Proposals and the Connections Between Ex-Ante and Ex-Post Liquidity Tools
This paper develops a simple framework that helps to draw out some of the potential connections between ex-ante liquidity risk management tools such as liquidity requirements or mandatory fees and ex-post liquidity tools such as a lender of last resort. A central message of this analysis is that policy actions that expand the lender of last resort function so as to better address periods of financial distress are likely to be most effective when accompanied by regulations or other mechanisms that encourage socially-responsible ex-ante liquidity risk management on the part of financial firms. Regulation in the form of a liquidity coverage requirement can be helpful in moving private sector outcomes toward a social optimum. A mandatory fee schedule also emerges as a potentially very useful tool. The structure of the optimal fee schedule depends on both the scale of volatile liabilities and the extent of “liquidity coverage” maintained to cover potential funding shortfalls. Both liquidity requirements and mandatory fees can help to address a form of time consistency problem in connection with the provision of ex-post liquidity support through a lender of last resort. The framework also provides some potentially useful benchmarks in evaluating the distribution of liquidity risks across different classes of financial firms.
Keywords: Lender of Last Resort, Liquidity Regulation, Treasury Market
We review developments in research on within-country migration, focusing on internal migration in the U.S. We begin by describing approaches to modelling individuals' migration decisions and equilibrium outcomes across local areas. Next, we summarize evidence regarding the impact of migration on individuals' outcomes, implications of migration for local labor market adjustment, and interactions between migration and housing markets. Finally, we discuss evidence on the efficacy of policies aimed at encouraging migration and conclude by highlighting important unanswered questions that are critical for informing migration-related policy.
Keywords: Internal migration, migration, mobility
This paper uses data from the Financial Accounts of the United States to map out the regulatory boundaries of assets held by U.S. financial institutions from a macroprudential perspective. We provide a quantitative measure of the regulatory perimeter—the boundary between the part of the financial sector that is subject to some form of prudential regulatory oversight and that which is not—and show how it has evolved over the past forty years. Additionally, we measure the boundaries between different regulatory agencies and financial institutions that operate within the regulatory perimeter and illustrate how these boundaries potentially become blurred in the face of regulatory overlap. Quantifying the regulatory perimeter and the boundaries for macroprudential regulators within the perimeter is informative for assessing financial stability risks over the credit cycle.
Keywords: Regulation; Regulatory reach; Boundary problem; Financial institutions
This paper discusses the Federal Reserve's new framework and highlights some important policy implications that flow from the revised consensus statement and the new strategy. In particular, it first discusses the factors that motivated the Federal Reserve in November 2018 to announce it would undertake in 2019 the first-ever public review of its monetary policy strategy, tools, and communication practices. It then considers the major findings of the review as codified in our new Statement on Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy and highlights some important policy implications that flow from them.
Keywords: FOMC, Monetary policy
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ISSN 2767-3898 (Online)
ISSN 1936-2854 (Print)