FEDS Notes are articles in which Board staff offer their own views and present analysis on a range of topics in economics and finance. These articles are shorter and less technically oriented than FEDS Working Papers and IFDP papers.
Cyber risk, defined as the risk of loss from dependence on computer systems and digital technologies, has grown in the financial system. Cyber events, especially cyberattacks, are among the top risks cited in financial stability surveys in the United States and globally.
The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic brought new focus to questions about business entry and survival. The spring of 2020 was characterized by widespread fear of surging business exit (death).
This note updates our previous work on household formation and living arrangements from the summer of 2020. At that early stage in the pandemic, the data showed a dramatic decline in headship rates as millions of Americans changed their living arrangements, many by remaining with or moving back in with parents and older relatives.
Prime money market funds (MMFs) represent a key vulnerability in the financial system. During the last 15 years, they have experienced two severe investor runs, in September 2008 and March 2020, both of which contributed to full-scale financial crises.
Consumer price inflation in the United States, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, jumped to just above 7 percent in the twelve months ending in December 2021. Inflation in 2021 reached the highest level seen since the early 1980s. The jump in inflation outside of the range experienced over several decades has raised questions regarding the speed with which, or the degree to which, inflation may return to the 2-percent range consistent with the Federal Reserve's inflation objective.
Since the start of the pandemic, views about the evolution of aggregate consumer prices moved swiftly from concerns about deflation to fears about excessive inflation. It is hard to find a parallel in the history of the U.S. economy—or the global economy more generally—to this rapid reversal of risks to the inflation outlook.
In recent months, financial market perceptions about the future path of short-term interest rates have evolved amidst signals from policymakers suggesting that reduced monetary policy accommodation is in the offing. As with previous episodes of policy tightening, most recently in 2018, one can hear an attendant rise in the volume of commentary about a decline in the slope of the yield curve and the risk of "inversion," whereby long-term yields fall below shorter-maturity yields.
A resilient banking system meets the demands of households and businesses for financial services during both benign and severe macroeconomic and financial conditions. Banks' ability to weather severe macroeconomic shocks, and their willingness to continue providing financial services, depends on their levels of capital, balance sheet exposures, and ability to generate earnings. This note uses the Forward-Looking Analysis of Risk Events (FLARE) stress testing model to evaluate the resiliency of the banking system by consistently applying severe macroeconomic and financial shocks each quarter between 2014:Q1 and 2021:Q3.
Numerous studies show that tightening loan supply may significantly affect credit outcomes, including declines in total lending capacity and changes in loan terms (see for example, Bassett et al. (2014), Castro et al. (2022), Lown and Morgan (2006)). Moreover, research has linked these supply-driven declines in credit to negative effects on economic outcomes, including employment or output (see Alfaro et al. (2021) or Herheknhoff (2019)).
The supply of bank credit is an important driver of macroeconomic outcomes, with significant implications for employment and output (Basset et al., 2014; Chodorow-Reich, 2014). However, studying credit supply is not straightforward for several reasons.
The Treasury International Capital (TIC) system collects cross-border securities positions and transactions data and is the primary source of information on foreign official and private demand for U.S. Treasuries and other U.S. securities, as well as for U.S. investment in foreign securities. As noted in earlier work, though, the TIC system currently collects data separately on holdings of securities (the monthly TIC SLT and the annual SHL/SHC collections) and on transactions, the TIC S, and these two data streams can be difficult to reconcile, making interpretation of movements in the data challenging.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented disruptions in supply, demand, and productivity, which have had cataclysmic health, social, and economic implications across the globe. In this note, we explore the large increase in global real economic uncertainty observed during the pandemic as a channel that explains or magnifies the economic implications of COVID-19
One of the surprising characteristics of the economic downturn induced by the COVID-19 pandemic is that delinquency rates in most consumer credit markets have remained low both during the downturn and the subsequent recovery. The existing literature has emphasized the roles that forbearance policies and various government stimulus programs played in helping households meet their debt obligations (Dettling and Lambie-Hanson, 2021; Bakshi and Rose, 2021).
Take a close look at something that is widely used by the general public as "money"—a Federal Reserve note, a deposit with a bank, a balance with a nonbank payment company (such as PayPal or Venmo), or perhaps even a cryptocurrency—and ask what it means to use it as a store of value and a medium of exchange. That question is, in essence, a legal one.
Although distributed ledgers frequently are viewed as a revolutionary technology that could transform many markets, the technology has not yet received wide-scale business adoption. This may be due in part to a lack of use cases for which the decentralized and distributed features of distributed ledger technology (DLT) are optimal. But payment directories (known in certain markets as registries), which facilitate the lookup of payments-related information, may be a use case that has specific challenges that take better advantage of these features than other use cases explored by businesses to date. Directories that support routing of information to support payments like aliases for peer-to-peer payments and business-to-business e-invoices may benefit from the use of DLT. DLT allows market participants to maintain and to protect localized information without the competitive, operational, and technical challenges of a centralized database.
The global crisis in 2008 reminded us of the importance of the financial sector for the macroeconomy, a lesson many had forgotten in the decades after the previous global crisis, the Great Depression. Financial risk matters. It is necessary for investment and growth, while also driving uncertainty, inefficiency, recessions, and crises.
The concept of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) has gained traction in recent years, with an increasing number of central banks announcing efforts to explore CBDC use cases and designs. Institutions are in various stages of research and development, with some just beginning their research and others already entering pilot testing or even production, albeit on a limited scale.
Foreign investors hold a sizable amount of U.S. Treasury securities—$7.5 trillion or about 35 percent of the total outstanding—so net purchases by foreign investors receive significant attention from a variety of sources, including academic researchers, finance professionals, and journalists. During the pandemic, foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities has received scrutiny for a variety of reasons, including the contribution of foreign investors to the massive selloff in March 2020 (Duffie, 2020; Vissing-Jorgensen, forthcoming) and the ability of foreign investors to absorb additional Treasury securities as the Federal Reserve prepares to taper its asset purchases (Duguid and Rennison, 2021).
Disclaimer: FEDS Notes are articles in which Board staff offer their own views and present analysis on a range of topics in economics and finance. These articles are shorter and less technically oriented than FEDS Working Papers and IFDP papers.