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.
Stablecoins are increasingly important in decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto asset markets, and their prominence has led to greater scrutiny of their unique role as expressions of the U.S. dollar running on blockchain networks. Stablecoins attempt to perform a mechanically complex function – to remain pegged to the dollar, even during periods of market volatility.
Private credit or private debt investments are debt-like, non-publicly traded instruments provided by non-bank entities, such as private credit funds or business development companies (BDCs), to fund private businesses. Private credit is typically extended to middle-market firms with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion, but has grown rapidly in recent years to fund larger companies that were traditionally funded by leveraged loans.
The strong surge and rapid retreat of U.S. goods price inflation during 2021-2023 has occupied the forefront of economic policy discussions, and debate on the primary causes continues. Some commentators point to widespread supply bottlenecks and adverse geo-political events that caused significant disruption to the production and availability of manufactured goods.
Technological advances in recent decades have brought about a wave of private-sector innovation in payments and have led central banks to explore a variety of improvements to their payment systems, including the possibility of issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Survey evidence from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) shows that over 90% of central banks are exploring CBDCs (Kosse & Mattei, 2022). The Federal Reserve is also exploring the implications of, and options for, introducing a CBDC.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Federal Reserve committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy. Over the next year and a half, with progress on vaccinations and strong policy support, indicators of economic activity and employment strengthened while inflation moved higher. Faced with a tight labor market and elevated inflation, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) began a process of unwinding the very accommodative stance of monetary policy and moving to a restrictive policy stance to address inflation pressures. Here we review the sequence of actions taken by the Committee between late 2020 and mid-2023 as well as discuss some issues it contemplated along the way; the table provides a chronological list of key events over this period.
A permissionless blockchain network is a system of physically distributed computers running a copy of a shared ledger and using the same software rules that enable all network participants to “read, submit, and validate transactions” (Beck, Müller-Bloch, and King, 2018, p. 1022). A permissionless system’s accessibility stands in contrast to that of permissioned systems, in which a central authority pre-selects validators and potentially restricts viewing and submission rights (Krause, Natarajan, and Gradstein, 2017; Beck, Müller-Bloch, and King, 2018).
Since the beginning of 2018, the United States and China have been increasing tariff rates on each other's imports, spurring debates about a possible fragmentation of trade into blocs of aligned countries (Pierce and Yu (2023), Alfaro and Chor (2023)). Later that year, in a November 2018 speech to workers at a state-owned enterprise, President Xi Jinping mentioned that current events were forcing China to "travel the road of self-reliance."
Since 2016, the Michigan Surveys of Consumers (MSC) have included questions on inflation perceptions—what people believe inflation to have been—that are worded symmetrically with their long-standing questions on inflation expectations. The questions on inflation perceptions are currently posed four times a year—in February, May, August, and November. Using available data at the time, Axelrod, Lebow, and Peneva (2018) concluded that inflation expectations and perceptions are very similar and that if perceptions were to change, expectations were likely to change as well.
Does the Ability to Work Remotely Alter Labor Force Attachment? An Analysis of Female Labor Force Participation
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large share of the employed switched to remote work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)'s Current Population Survey (CPS), almost 40 percent of workers were working remotely in May 2020 because of the pandemic (figure 1, purple line), adding to the evidence from other individual- and firm-level surveys.
In the United States, long-term changes in the nature of the economy – including advances in technological innovation and automation, declines in the extraction of certain energy resources, increases in globalization, and a shift to the "knowledge-based" economy – have coincided with disproportionately negative employment outcomes in many rural, or "nonmetro," communities, especially for prime working-age men and those with less than a high school degree.
In the early stages of the pandemic, income support and forbearance programs led consumer loan delinquency rates to fall to near-record lows for borrowers across the credit score distribution. Since the second half of 2021, however, delinquency rates have risen, and by 2023:Q3, overall rates for auto and credit card loans had risen above their pre-pandemic levels.
Many surveys have measured people's financial literacy with a standard set of questions covering interest, inflation, and investment diversification. Results from these surveys have consistently shown that women are less likely than men to answer the financial literacy questions correctly – the so-called financial literacy gender gap.
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.