Central banks around the world are tightening monetary policy in response to a global surge in inflation not seen since the 1970s. This synchronization of global interest rate hikes and further increases expected by markets, illustrated in figure 1, have raised concerns about adverse international spillovers of tighter monetary policy.
Stablecoins have garnered much attention as a key part of the emerging decentralized finance (or "DeFi") ecosystem, and as a potential way to pay for goods and services. Stablecoins facilitate trades on crypto exchanges, serve as the underlying asset for many crypto loans, and allow market participants to avoid inefficiencies stemming from converting back to fiat currency for crypto trades.
With major central banks in the process of tightening monetary policy aggressively, an important question is how far policy rates will rise and where they will settle in the longer run. One reference point often used to evaluate this question is the longer-run neutral policy rate—the policy rate consistent with economic activity at its longer-run potential and inflation at its target.
This paper explores whether there could be a first-mover advantage for a jurisdiction issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) compared to other jurisdictions that subsequently issue their own CBDC. Conventional academic literature provides a framework by which one can assess a CBDC in the domestic payments market, the international payments market, and the technology markets that support payments. However, a CBDC may be more than just a means of payment and thus first-mover advantage is examined for both the asset component of reserve currency and a future financial system built on CBDCs. Overall, the first mover literature does not suggest that there is a compelling first-mover advantage for issuing a CBDC.
House prices have risen rapidly during the pandemic, creating $9 trillion in owner occupied housing wealth between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2022. Both housing and non-housing inflation also moved up over this time period to its highest level in many decades.
Over the pandemic, historic levels of government transfers boosted household income while household spending was severely curtailed by social distancing. This led the personal saving rate to soar (Figure 1), and we estimate that U.S. households accumulated about $2.3 trillion in savings in 2020 and through the summer of 2021, above and beyond what they would have saved if income and spending components had grown at recent, pre-pandemic trends.
The commercial paper (CP) market is an important source of short-term funding for highly-rated financial and nonfinancial firms, with over $1 trillion in outstanding assets. The Global Financial Crisis in 2008 and the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020 both demonstrated the fragility of the CP market, which seized up in both crises and only recovered following interventions from the Federal Reserve in the form of several liquidity facilities.
In this note, we examine how changes in the yield curve slope affect the provision of credit and intermediation services by non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), including broker-dealers and hedge funds. Although these NBFIs typically do not lend directly to the non-financial sector, they indirectly support the flow of credit by investing in debt securities and extending financing to investors who own such securities.
Credit cards are one of the most ubiquitous consumer financial products in the United States, with more than 75 percent of households owning at least one general purpose credit card in 2019. According to the G.19 Consumer Credit Statistical release, revolving consumer credit, which mainly consists of credit cards and related plans, stood at over one trillion dollars at the end of 2021.
Over the past two decades, the corporate profits of stock market listed firms have been substantially boosted by declining interest rate expenses and lower corporate tax rates. This note's key finding is that the reduction in interest and tax expenses is responsible for a full one-third of all profit growth for S&P 500 nonfinancial firms over the prior two-decade period.
In this note, we describe U.S. life insurers’ liquidity management when the COVID-19 pandemic broke. We show that life insurance companies immediately created cash buffers to manage potential liquidity shocks.
Since the beginning of this year, broad equity price indexes around the world have declined significantly. In interpreting the declines, market commentaries have highlighted the risks to the economic outlook in the United States and other advanced economies.
Long COVID encompasses a suite of long-term symptoms that commonly include fatigue, shortness of breath, and so-called brain fog, along with many others. Individuals with long-term symptoms may be unable to work (or work full-time) as a result of their condition, and there is growing speculation that long COVID may be restraining labor supply.
The Primary Government Securities Dealers Reports (Form FR 2004) collect information at a weekly frequency on daily positions, cumulative transactions, financing, and fails of primary dealers in U.S. government and other fixed-income securities. The reports have been revised as of January 5, 2022 to increase the granularity of reporting.
Any assessment of the likelihood and characteristics of a soft landing should take into account the situation in the labor market currently and the likely dynamics in the labor market going forward. Modern labor market models centered around the Beveridge curve are a useful tool in this assessment.
An Analysis of the Interest Rate Risk of the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet, Part 2: Projections under Alternative Interest Rate Paths
As discussed in the first note of this two-note series, net income of the Federal Reserve (Fed) and its remittances to the U.S. Treasury along with the unrealized gain or loss position of the System Open Market Account (SOMA) portfolio are affected by fluctuations in interest rates. The need for the Fed to increase the policy rate expeditiously to address the inflationary pressures is projected to result in the Fed's net income turning negative temporarily.
An Analysis of the Interest Rate Risk of the Federal Reserve’s Balance Sheet, Part 1: Background and Historical Perspective
As part of its implementation of monetary policy, the Federal Reserve (Fed) holds Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in the System Open Market Account (SOMA). The market value of these securities and the Fed's income fluctuate with changes in interest rates. As such, the ongoing increases in policy rates to address inflationary pressures are expected to put downward pressure on the Fed's net income.
The recent surge in inflation in many countries around the world and the fiscal stimulus provided in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest in analyzing the potential role of large fiscal spending as a driver of price increases. In this note, we examine how fiscal support impacted the balance between supply and demand across countries during the COVID-19 crisis.
Payment systems, and interoperation within and between them, are complicated, making analysis and dialogue among analysts, technologists, and members of the public challenging. Given the emergence of new payment mechanisms, like CBDC and private digital currency, these discussions are increasingly important to identify opportunities and challenges. This paper proposes a four-step framework and provides several tools policy analysts, technologists, and interested members of the public can use to interpret and discuss payment system interoperation. First, we provide an overview of payment system interoperation and why it is important. Next, we describe our four-step framework. Then, we apply the framework by describing the potential results of a hypothetical fit-for-purpose interoperation discussion where both a hypothetical central bank digital currency (CBDC) and stablecoins, a type of private digital currency, could co-exist in a payment system.
In the United States, access to credit is an important channel for smoothing consumption and building wealth. However, establishing and building a credit history can take time. Parents may be able to help their children build credit early and ensure good credit behavior, such as paying on time, by being a cosigner on a credit card.
The economic returns to attending college are a crucial aspect of discussions surrounding student debt and rising tuition. As higher quality data on student outcomes has become available, studies have attempted to quantify the financial value of a college degree across different dimensions and contexts (Webber, 2014; Webber, 2016; Itzkowitz, 2021; Cooper, 2021; Miller and Akabas, 2022).
An inverted yield curve—defined as an episode in which long-maturity Treasury yields fall below their short-maturity counterparts—is a powerful near-term predictor of recessions. While most previous studies focus on the predictive power of the spread between long- and short-maturity Treasury yields, Engstrom and Sharpe (2019) have recently shown that a measure of the nominal near-term forward spread (NTFS), given by the difference between the six-quarter-ahead forward Treasury yield and the current three-month Treasury bill rate, dominates long-term spreads as a leading indicator of economic activity.
Recent increases in interest rates, combined with the rapid rise in house prices over the past two years, have eroded the affordability of homeownership. This note provides evidence that home purchase borrowing by below-average income households has fallen precipitously in 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused regressive income declines, but also led to progressive policy responses. Using administrative U.S. tax data, which are a near-universal panel dataset that can track income changes over time, we consider the distribution of annual income declines during the COVID-19 pandemic relative to the Great Recession.
Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits were a central part of the social safety net during the Covid-19 recession. UI benefits, however, are severely understated in surveys. Using administrative tax data, we find that over half of UI benefits were missed in major survey data, with a greater understatement among low-income workers. As a result, 2020 official poverty rates were overstated by about 2 percentage points, and corrected poverty reached a six-decade low. We provide data to correct underreporting in surveys and show that, compared to UI benefits, the UI exclusion tax expenditure was less targeted at low incomes.
The U.S. dollar has played a preeminent role in the global economy since the second World War. It is used as a reserve currency and the currency of denomination for a large fraction of global trade and financial transactions.
This paper uses public data disclosed in eight bank holding companies' "living wills", or Resolution Plans, to examine and test how operational resilience can contribute to financial system stability. The banks, each subject to the Large Institution Supervision Coordinating Committee (LISCC) supervisory program, interact in a complex network of Financial Market Utilities (FMUs). By employing complementary public data on operational exposures and benchmarks for operational disruption developed in existing research, we construct plausible estimates of how various disruption events would impact the financial system. This paper provides a tangible, reproducible example of how concepts discussed in recent regulatory agency guidance on operational resilience can be employed for risk analysis and scenario testing. It also demonstrates how network mapping can aid in this type of analysis. The estimates generated here indicate that disruptions stemming from tail-end operational risk events extend beyond absolute financial losses, and are likely to be large enough to pose a systemic risk to the financial system.
The global spread of COVID-19 virus in early 2020, and the measures taken to contain it pushed the global economy into a deep contraction. As illustrated in Figure 1, global GDP fell 10.5 percent below its pre-pandemic level in the second quarter of 2020.
Survey Responses Indicating Improved Perceptions of Discount Window Usage Align with Observed Borrowing Behavior
In this note, we examine borrowing activity through the discount window's primary credit program subsequent to the program changes made in March 2020 to assess the extent to which banks' behavior appeared consistent with their reported views of the discount window. Views were collected from 80 banks in the September 2020 Senior Financial Officer Survey (SFOS).
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, sweeping production constraints, combined with surging demand in some industries, have led to shortages, severe congestion, and soaring prices. What will it take for these bottlenecks to resolve and for price pressures to ease?
Evictions can have detrimental effects on tenants and their households, such as unemployment, loss of shelter, and/or food insecurity, which can often be especially severe since households that face eviction tend to be poorer and less job-secure (Desmond and Kimbro, 2015). Even when tenants are ultimately not evicted, eviction filings themselves can represent a burden for households (Banerjee and Ghatak, 2003; Leung, Hepburn, and Desmond, 2021). Finally, the mere threat of eviction can impose substantial burdens on households (Garboden and Rosen, 2019). Beyond the household level, evictions can also have adverse effects on public health (Benfer et al., 2021; Jowers et al., 2021).
Recessions impose sizable hardship, with large increases in the unemployment rate and related dislocations. In addition, recessions can lead to large shifts in financial markets. As a result, economists and financial market professionals have considered prediction models to assess the probability of a recession.
Fixed-income mutual funds saw massive outflows during the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, with funds investing primarily in high yield debt markets experiencing the largest redemptions, as a percentage of assets. In March 2020 alone, high yield bond (HYB) and bank loan (BL) mutual fund withdrawals reached an estimated 4.1 and 13.6 percent of assets under management (AUM), accounting for close to $10.4 and $11.4 billion, respectively. Following interventions from the Federal Reserve that helped restore credit market conditions and brought U.S. interest rates back to new lows, flow dynamics of HYB and BL funds began to diverge substantially.
In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. equity markets have witnessed a surge in the number of publicly listed companies. Using data for the three major U.S. stock exchanges (AMEX, NYSE, and NASDAQ), we find that the number of publicly traded companies went from 4,144 at the end of August 2020 to 5,301 at the end of December 2021, a staggering increase of about 28 percent.
Substitutability between Balance Sheet Reductions and Policy Rate Hikes: Some Illustrations and a Discussion
This note explores the substitutability between policy rate hikes and reductions in the size of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet for the removal of policy accommodation. We do so using a version of the FRB/US model augmented to incorporate the effects of changes in the Federal Reserve's asset holdings on term premiums.
A notable development in the U.S. banking system following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the rapid and sustained growth in aggregate bank deposits. Total deposits at domestic commercial banks rose by more than 35 percent since the end of 2019 and stood at around $18 trillion as of the fourth quarter of 2021.
Stablecoins---digital currencies pegged to an external reference (e.g., the US dollar)---play an increasingly important role in transacting digital currencies. However, with a peg to an external reference comes the risk that the peg breaks and, akin to runs on other financial instruments, the risk of a stablecoin run.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments have instituted a wide array of restrictions on activity, easing or tightening these restrictions as concerns about transmission evolved. The particular choices that governments made could have large impacts on both public health and on economic prosperity. In this note, we provide evidence on the correlation between the level of these restrictions and a key component of the vitality of local economies, namely small businesses. We find that, in states with tighter restrictions, a greater proportion of small businesses generally reported levels of significantly curtailed operations than in states with looser restrictions throughout the pandemic, although this relationship weakens by the summer of 2021. In addition, states with tighter restrictions experienced a larger increase in small business loan default rates. At the same time, it appears that the Paycheck Protection Program helped to mitigate effects of government-imposed restrictions on small business health.
Global geopolitical risks have soared since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Investors, market participants, and policymakers expect that the war will exert a drag on the global economy while pushing up inflation, with a sharp increase in uncertainty and risks of severe adverse outcomes. As an example of these concerns, the April 2022 edition of the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook contains more than 200 mentions of the word "war."
On April 6, 2022, the Department of Education (DoEd) announced a new extension on the forbearance provision for federal student loans, which is now set to expire on August 31, 2022, almost 30 months after being set for the first time. These measures—originally intended for a period of 60 days—applied exclusively to federal student loans owned by the Department of Education, a little more than 80 percent of the current $1.75 trillion outstanding student loan debt.
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.
A large body of work suggests that trade affects workers unevenly. By shifting economic activity across occupations, industries, or regions, freer trade can generate gains for some workers and losses for others.
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.