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11 posts from February 2013

February 28, 2013

Just Released: Press Briefing on Household Debt and Credit

Meta Brown, Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally,
and Wilbert van der Klaauw


This morning, New York Fed director of research Jamie McAndrews joined Bank economists to brief the press on economic developments. With this morning’s release of the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for 2012:Q4, the briefing focused specifically on recent developments in household debt and credit.

Continue reading "Just Released: Press Briefing on Household Debt and Credit" »

Posted by Blog Author at 1:00 PM in Education, Household Finance, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 27, 2013

State Unemployment and the Allocation of Federal Stimulus Spending

James Orr and John Sporn

Fiscal stimulus, in the form of large discretionary increases in federal spending and tax reductions, is often triggered by a strong and persistent rise in the national unemployment rate. The most recent example was the $860 billion (6 percent of GDP) stimulus contained in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), adopted in the context of rising unemployment rates. The spending components of the program were varied, including federal transfers to state governments to support education and social services, assistance to unemployed and disadvantaged individuals, and funds for capital construction projects. The majority of the stimulus funds were allocated to state governments and, since the program was motivated by high and rising aggregate unemployment, a reasonable expectation would have been that states with high unemployment rates would receive large allocations. Our analysis of the distribution of ARRA funds across states shows that the expanded assistance to unemployed workers was indeed highly correlated with state unemployment rates. It turned out, however, that most other state allocations had little association—positive or negative—with state unemployment rates. The ultimate distribution instead seemed to reflect a number of practical considerations involved in implementing such a vast spending program. In this post, we outline what in our view were the key considerations that governed the distribution of the stimulus spending across states, and we use the example of one component of that spending—highway infrastructure investment—to illustrate how the stimulus funds got to the states.

Continue reading "State Unemployment and the Allocation of Federal Stimulus Spending" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Regional Analysis | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 25, 2013

The Macroeconomic Effects of Forward Guidance

Marco Del Negro, Marc Giannoni, and Christina Patterson

In this post, we quantify the macroeconomic effects of central bank announcements about future federal funds rates, or forward guidance. We estimate that a commitment to lowering future rates below market expectations can have fairly strong effects on real economic activity with only small effects on inflation.

Continue reading "The Macroeconomic Effects of Forward Guidance" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (3)

February 22, 2013

Historical Echoes: Cash or Credit? Payments and Finance in Ancient Rome

Marco Del Negro and Mary Tao

Imagine yourself a Roman citizen in the 1st Century B.C. You’ve gone shopping with your partner, who’s trying to convince you to buy a particular item. The thing’s pretty expensive, and you demur because you’re short of cash. You may think that back then such an excuse would get you off scot-free. What else can you possibly do: Write a check? Well, yes, writes the poet Ovid in his “Ars Amatoria, Book I.” And since your partner knows it, you have no way out (the example below shows some gender bias on Ovid’s part. Fortunately, a few things have changed over the past 2,000 years):

            But when she has her purchase in her eye,
            She hugs thee close, and kisses thee to buy;
            “Tis what I want, and ‘tis a pen’orth too;
            In many years I will not trouble you.”
            If you complain you have no ready coin,
            No matter, ‘tis but writing of a line;
            A little bill, not to be paid at sight:
            (Now curse the time when thou wert taught to write.)
 

Continue reading "Historical Echoes: Cash or Credit? Payments and Finance in Ancient Rome" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Historical Echoes | Permalink | Comments (7)

February 20, 2013

Primary Dealers’ Waning Role in Treasury Auctions

Michael Fleming and Sean Myers

On December 12, 2012, primary government securities dealers bought just 33 percent of the new ten-year Treasury notes sold at auction. This was one of the lowest shares on record and far below the 68 percent average for ten-year notes reported in this 2007 study by Fleming. In this post, we examine recent data on the buyers of Treasury securities at auction to understand whether the December 12 results are part of a trend and, if so, what explains it.

Continue reading "Primary Dealers’ Waning Role in Treasury Auctions" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Markets | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 15, 2013

Historical Echoes: Bankers Behaving Calculatingly – with Slide Rules

Amy Farber

How do bankers do calculations? Currently, on the computer (or calculator). What about before computers and calculators? If they couldn’t figure things out using pencil, paper, and pre-prepared tables, they used slide rules (and pre-prepared tables; see p. 188 of this 1887 book of tables).

Continue reading "Historical Echoes: Bankers Behaving Calculatingly – with Slide Rules" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Historical Echoes | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 13, 2013

Underwater and Drowning? Some Facts about Mortgages that Could Be Targeted by Eminent Domain

Andreas Fuster, Caitlin Gorback, and Paul Willen

Since the onset of the subprime crisis, many places across the United States have been affected by high levels of negative equity (meaning that borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth), an associated flood of foreclosures, and loss of local wealth. In mid-2012, a community advisory firm, Mortgage Resolution Partners (MRP) approached the government of San Bernardino County, California (a region with particularly high levels of negative equity) and pitched the idea of using eminent domain to seize privately securitized mortgage loans in order to restructure or refinance them. The MRP proposal was largely based on a plan by Cornell University law professor Robert Hockett. In late January, this controversial plan was abandoned by San Bernardino County, yet it remains under consideration in other counties. While a lot of the debate surrounding the plan has centered on value judgments and legal issues, in this post we look at available data in order to get an idea of the landscape of loans that could have been affected by such a program in San Bernardino County.

Continue reading "Underwater and Drowning? Some Facts about Mortgages that Could Be Targeted by Eminent Domain " »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Household Finance, Housing | Permalink | Comments (4)

February 11, 2013

The Exchange Rate Disconnect

Mary Amiti, Oleg Itskhoki, and Jozef Konings

Why do large movements in exchange rates have small effects on international goods prices? This empirical regularity is a central puzzle in international macroeconomics. In a new study, we show that the key to understanding this exchange rate disconnect is to take into account that the largest exporters are also the largest importers. This is important because when exporters import their intermediate inputs, they face offsetting exchange rate effects on their marginal costs. For example, a depreciation of the euro relative to the U.S. dollar makes exports in U.S. dollars cheaper—but it also makes imports in euros more expensive. Using Belgian firm-level data, we show that exporters that import a large share of their inputs pass on a much smaller share of the exchange rate shock to export prices. Interestingly, import-intensive firms typically have high export market shares and hence set high markups and actively move them in response to changes in marginal cost, thus providing a second channel that limits the effect of exchange rate shocks on export prices. Our results show that a small exporter with no imported inputs has a nearly complete pass-through of more than 90 percent, while a firm at the 95th percentile of both import intensity and market share distributions has a pass-through of 56 percent, with the two mechanisms playing roughly equal roles. These findings have important implications for aggregate macroeconomic variables.

Continue reading "The Exchange Rate Disconnect" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in International Economics | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 08, 2013

Historical Echoes: Neither a Lender nor a Borrower Be, or When the Bard Met the Fed

Mary Tao

The Federal Reserve in secret conclave ponders
Means to cure the nation’s cloudy state o’ercast
By stormy speculation. To-morrow morning’s news proclaims
The fury of their warning. Such dismal stuff will shake
The Wall Street world to marrow of its gambling bones;



These lines come from a 1929 play, Shakespeare on Wall Street, a mash-up of famous Shakespearean characters from various plays set to the story of the stock market crisis just then in motion. Written by a Harvard Law professor, Edward Henry Warren, the play features Shakespeare as a New York investor and his three sons—Hamlet, the bond salesman; Macbeth, a timid investor; and Falstaff, an anti-prohibitionist. The opening act parallels Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but with a twist: the three witches meet up in New Jersey. When Macbeth encounters the witches, he is willing to offer them as much as a golden eagle for their investment tips. A few scenes later, Polonius mentions that Macbeth has asked him to contact the Fed for assistance.

Continue reading "Historical Echoes: Neither a Lender nor a Borrower Be, or When the Bard Met the Fed" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Historical Echoes | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 06, 2013

How Did Education Financing in New Jersey’s Abbott Districts Fare during the Great Recession?

Rajashri Chakrabarti and Sarah Sutherland

In the state of New Jersey, any child between the ages of five and eighteen has the constitutional right to a thorough and efficient education. The state also has one of the country’s most rigid policies regarding a balanced budget. When state and local revenues took a big hit in the most recent recession, officials had to make tough decisions about education spending. In this post, we analyze education financing and spending in two groups of high-poverty districts during the Great Recession and the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) federal stimulus period—the Abbott and Bacon districts. Analysis in our recent New York Fed staff report shows that the Abbott districts exhibited the sharpest declines—relative to trend—in both total funding and total spending per pupil during the post-recession era. Additionally, the Abbott districts were the only group of districts in New Jersey to present statistically significant negative shifts in instructional spending, even with the federal stimulus.

Continue reading "How Did Education Financing in New Jersey’s Abbott Districts Fare during the Great Recession?" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Education, Regional Analysis | Permalink | Comments (0)

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