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We launched the U.S. Economy in a Snapshot in June 2015 to provide interested readers with a monthly update of current economic and financial developments. Combining charts and summary points, the packet covers a range of topics that include labor and financial markets, the behavior of consumers and firms, survey responses, and the global economy.
Bonni Brodsky, Marco Del Negro, Joseph Fiorica, Eric LeSueur, Ari Morse, and Anthony Rodrigues
In our previous post, we showed that the gap between the market-implied path for the federal funds rate and the survey-implied mean expectations for the federal funds rate from the Survey of Primary Dealers (SPD) and the Survey of Market Participants (SMP) narrowed from the December survey to the January survey. In particular, we provided explanations for this narrowing as well as for the subsequent widening from January to March. This post continues the discussion by presenting a novel approach called “tilting” that yields insights by measuring how much the survey probability distributions have to be altered to match the market-implied path of the federal funds rate. We interpret any discrepancy between the original and tilted distributions as arising from either risk premia or dispersion in beliefs.
Bonni Brodsky, Marco Del Negro, Joseph Fiorica, Eric LeSueur, Ari Morse, and Anthony Rodrigues
Over the past year, market pricing on interest rate derivatives linked to the federal funds rate has suggested a significantly lower expected path of the policy rate than responses to the New York Fed’s Survey of Primary Dealers (SPD) and Survey of Market Participants (SMP). However, this gap narrowed considerably from December 2015 to January 2016, before widening slightly at longer horizons in March. This post argues that the narrowing between December and January was mostly the result of survey respondents placing greater weight on lower rate outcomes, while the subsequent widening between January and March likely reflects an increased demand for insurance against states of the world where the policy rate remains at very low levels.
The Big Short has been making a big splash this year, racking up five Academy Award nominations and taking home the Oscar for best adapted screenplay. The movie provides a very entertaining way to gain an understanding about some of the underpinnings of the financial crisis, particularly through a few memorable cutaway scenes—such as when actress Margot Robbie explains mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from a bubble bath, chef Anthony Bourdain compares collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) to seafood stew, and singer Selena Gomez explains synthetic CDOs using the analogy of “side bets” made by people watching a casino blackjack game.
Correction: In the original version of this post, the chart “Average Daily Fedwire Payments Are Higher at Quarter-End” contained incorrect data. The chart has now been updated. We regret the error.
The federal funds market is an important source of short-term funding for U.S. banks. In this market, banks borrow reserves on an unsecured basis from other banks and from government-sponsored enterprises, typically overnight. Before the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve implemented monetary policy by targeting the overnight fed funds rate and then adjusting the supply of bank reserves every day to keep the rate close to the target. Before the crisis, reserves were generally in scarce supply, which periodically caused temporary spikes in the fed funds rate during times of high demand, typically at the end of each quarter. In this post, we show that the Fed actively responded to quarter-end volatility by injecting reserves into the banking system around these dates.
Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency yet developed. Proponents assert that bitcoin can remove frictions involved in payment and settlement systems by eliminating the need for the financial intermediaries that exist in traditional currencies. In this blog post, we show that while bitcoin transfers themselves are relatively frictionless for the user, there are significant frictions when bitcoins trade in exchange markets resulting in meaningful and persistent price differences across bitcoin exchanges. These exchange-related frictions reduce the incentive of market participants to use bitcoin as a payments alternative.
Tobias Adrian, Michael Fleming, Erik Vogt, and Zachary Wojtowicz
The announced liquidation of Third Avenue’s high-yield Focused Credit Fund (FCF) on December 9, 2015, drew widespread attention and reportedly sent ripples through asset markets. Events of this kind have the potential to increase the demand for market liquidity, as investors revise expectations, reassess risk exposures, and fulfill the need to trade. Moreover, portfolio effects and general fears of contagion may increase the demand for liquidity in assets only remotely related to a liquidating firm’s direct holdings. In this post, we examine whether FCF’s announced liquidation affected liquidity and returns in broader corporate bond markets.
Nicola Cetorelli, Fernando Duarte, Thomas Eisenbach, and Emily Eisner
On December 9, 2015, Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund (FCF) announced a “Plan of Liquidation,” effectively halting investor redemptions. This announcement followed a period of poor performance and large outflows. Assets at the fund had declined from a peak of $2.5 billion in May of 2015 to $942 million in November. Investors had redeemed more than $1.1 billion in shares since April 2015, and the fund’s year-to-date performance as of November had fallen below -21 percent. The FCF “run” highlights the need to quantify the potential for systemic risk among open-end mutual funds and the potential for contagion in the event of more widespread runs on other vulnerable funds. In this post, we first characterize open-end mutual funds that seem vulnerable to redemptions in much the same way as FCF. We then analyze the potential for fire-sale spillovers to other mutual funds if large redemptions in “at-risk” funds were to occur.
The close relationship between market volatility and trading activity is a long-established fact in financial markets. In recent years, much of the trading in U.S. Treasury and equity markets has been associated with nearly simultaneous trading between the leading cash and futures platforms. The striking cross-activity patterns that arise in both high-frequency cross-market trading and related cross-market order book changes in U.S. Treasury markets are also witnessed in other asset classes and naturally lead to the question that we investigate in this post of how the cross-market component of overall trading activity is related to volatility.
The interdealer market for Treasury securities shares many features with other highly liquid markets that trade electronically using anonymous central limit order books. The interdealer Treasury market, however, contains a unique trading protocol, the so-called workup, that accounts for the majority of interdealer trading volume. While the workup is designed to enhance liquidity in a market with diverse participation, it may also delay certain price-improving order book adjustments and therefore affect price discovery. In this post, we exploit the tight relationship between the ten-year Treasury note traded on the BrokerTec platform and the corresponding Treasury futures contract to explore how the workup protocol affects trading in the interdealer market and to highlight the impact of technological changes on observed trading behaviors.
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