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15 posts from October 2015

October 19, 2015

Reframing the Debate about Payday Lending



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Except for the ten to twelve million people who use them every year, just about everybody hates payday loans. Their detractors include many law professors, consumer advocates, members of the clergy, journalists, policymakers, and even the President! But is all the enmity justified? We show that many elements of the payday lending critique—their “unconscionable” and “spiraling” fees and their “targeting” of minorities—don’t hold up under scrutiny and the weight of evidence. After dispensing with those wrong reasons to object to payday lenders, we focus on a possible right reason: the tendency for some borrowers to roll over loans repeatedly. The key question here is whether the borrowers prone to rollovers are systematically overoptimistic about how quickly they will repay their loan. After reviewing the limited and mixed evidence on that point, we conclude that more research on the causes and consequences of rollovers should come before any wholesale reforms of payday credit.

Continue reading "Reframing the Debate about Payday Lending" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:02 AM in Household Finance, Inflation | Permalink | Comments (19)

The Tri-Party Repo Market Like You Have Never Seen It Before



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The tri-party repo market is a large and important market where securities dealers find a substantial amount of short-term funding. Despite its importance, this market was very opaque before the crisis. Since March 2010, in accordance with recommendation 13 of the Task Force on Tri-Party Repo Infrastructure Reform report, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has made monthly data on the tri-party repo market available to the public. Today, with our new interactive tool, there is a whole new way to view the market and its evolution. You can make your own charts, looking at volumes for specific asset classes, at haircuts, or at concentration, over your preferred time horizon.

Continue reading "The Tri-Party Repo Market Like You Have Never Seen It Before" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Fed Funds, Financial Markets | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 16, 2015

Just Released: Regional Service Sector Resilient even as Manufacturing Slumps



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The October 2015 Business Leaders Survey of regional service firms, released today, paints a considerably more benign picture of local business conditions than the more troubling October 2015 Empire State Manufacturing Survey, released yesterday. The two surveys point to diverging trends in the regional economy: manufacturing firms report that business activity has weakened, on balance, for the third month in a row, while regional service firms, though far from euphoric, remain slightly positive, on balance, about business trends. One of the reasons for this divergence seems to be the strong dollar, which has had negative effects on far more manufacturers than service firms, according to our surveys.

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Posted by Blog Author at 8:45 AM in Exchange Rates, Exports, Macroecon, Regional Analysis | Permalink | Comments (0)

Historical Echoes: Who Wants to Be the Richest Economist?



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You might think that, given the extreme levels of wealth that exist today, the richest economist would be someone who was still alive. But you’d be wrong.

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

October 15, 2015

Evaluating the Rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac



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In September 2008, the U.S. government engineered a dramatic rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, placing the two firms into conservatorship and committing billions of taxpayer dollars to stabilize their financial position. While these actions were characterized at the time as a temporary “time out,” seven years later the firms remain in conservatorship and their ultimate fate is uncertain. In this post, we evaluate the success of the 2008 rescue on several key dimensions, drawing from our recent research article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Crisis, Financial Institutions, Housing, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (5)

October 14, 2015

Dealers’ Positions and the Auction Cycle



The aftermath of the financial crisis and changes in technology and regulation have spurred a spirited discussion of dealers’ evolving role in financial markets. One such role is to buy securities at auction and sell them off to investors over time. We assess this function using data on primary dealers’ positions in benchmark Treasury securities, released by the New York Fed since April 2013 and described in this earlier Liberty Street Economics post.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Institutions, Financial Markets | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 09, 2015

The Liquidity Mirage



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Sixth in a six-part series

Market efficiency is often pointed to as a main benefit of automated and high-frequency trading (HFT) in U.S. Treasury markets. Fresh information arriving in the market place is reflected in prices almost instantaneously, ensuring that market makers can maintain tight spreads and that consistent pricing of closely related assets generally prevails. While the positive developments in market functioning due to HFT have been widely acknowledged, we argue that the (price) efficiency gain comes at the cost of making the real-time assessment of market liquidity across multiple venues more difficult. This situation, which we term the liquidity mirage, arises because market participants respond not only to news about fundamentals but also market activity itself. This can lead to order placement and execution in one market affecting liquidity provision across related markets almost instantly. The modern market structure therefore implicitly involves a trade-off between increased price efficiency and heightened uncertainty about the overall available liquidity in the market.

Continue reading "The Liquidity Mirage " »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Markets, Liquidity | Permalink | Comments (3)

October 08, 2015

Redemption Risk of Bond Mutual Funds and Dealer Positioning



Fifth in a six-part series
Market participants have recently voiced concerns that bond markets seem to become illiquid precisely when they want to sell bonds. Some possible reasons for a decline in corporate bond market liquidity in times of stress include the increasing share of corporate bond ownership by mutual funds and the reduced share of corporate bond ownership by dealers. In this post, we examine the potential effects of outflows from bond mutual funds and the role of dealers’ positioning in corporate bonds.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Institutions, Financial Markets, Liquidity | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 07, 2015

Changes in the Returns to Market Making



Fourth in a six-part series

Since the financial crisis, major U.S. banking institutions have increased their capital ratios in response to tighter capital requirements. Some market analysts have asserted that the higher capital and liquidity requirements are driving up the costs of market making and reducing market liquidity. If regulations were, in fact, increasing the cost of market making, one would expect to see a rise in the expected returns to that activity. In this post, we estimate market-making returns in equity and corporate bond markets to assess the impact of regulations.


Continue reading "Changes in the Returns to Market Making" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Institutions, Financial Markets, Regulation | Permalink | Comments (4)

October 06, 2015

Has Liquidity Risk in the Treasury and Equity Markets Increased?



Third in a six-part series

Market participants have argued that market liquidity has deteriorated since the financial crisis. However, inspection of common metrics such as bid-ask spreads, market depth, and price impact do not show pronounced reductions in liquidity compared with precrisis levels. In this post, we argue that recent changes in liquidity conditions may best be described in terms of heightened liquidity risk, as opposed to general declines in liquidity levels. We propose a measure that shows liquidity risk has risen in equity and Treasury markets and discuss some factors behind the increase.


Continue reading "Has Liquidity Risk in the Treasury and Equity Markets Increased?" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:05 AM in Financial Markets, Liquidity | Permalink | Comments (4)

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