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Bianca De Paoli, Thomas Klitgaard, and Harry Wheeler
Japan offers a preview of future U.S. demographic trends, having already seen a large increase in the population over 65. So, how has the Japanese economy dealt with this change? A look at the data shows that women of all ages have been pulled into the labor force and that more people are working longer. This transformation of the work force has not been enough to prevent a very tight labor market in a slowly growing economy, and it may help explain why inflation remains minimal. Namely, wages are not responding as much as they might to the tight labor market because women and older workers tend to have lower bargaining power than prime-age males.
In recent months, there have been some high-profile assessments of how far the Federal Reserve has come in terms of communicating about monetary policy since its “secrets of the temple” days. While observers say the transition to greater transparency “still seems to be a work in progress,” they note the range of steps the Fed has taken over the years to shed light on its strategy, including issuing statements to announce and explain policy changes following Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings, post-meeting press conferences and minutes, FOMC-member speeches and testimony, and “forward guidance” in all its variants.
What can disagreement teach us about how private forecasters perceive the conduct of monetary policy? In a previous post, we showed that private forecasters disagree about both the short-term and the long-term evolution of key macroeconomic variables but that the shape of this disagreement differs across variables. In contrast to their views on other macroeconomic variables, private forecasters disagree substantially about the level of the federal funds rate that will prevail in the medium to long term but very little on the rate at shorter horizons. In this post, we explore the possible explanations for what drives forecasts of the federal funds rate, especially in the longer run.
Tobias Adrian, Richard Crump, Peter Diamond, and Rui Yu
In a previous post, we showed how market rates on U.S. Treasuries violate the expectations hypothesis because of time-varying risk premia. In this post, we provide evidence that term structure models have outperformed direct market-based measures in forecasting interest rates. This suggests that term structure models can play a role in long-run planning for public policy objectives such as assessing the viability of Social Security.
Credit conditions tightened considerably in the second half of 2015 and U.S. growth slowed. We estimate the extent to which tighter credit conditions last year were responsible for the slowdown using the FRBNY DSGE model. We find that growth would have slowed substantially more had the Federal Reserve not delayed liftoff in the federal funds rate.
Stefano Eusepi, Erica Moszkowski, and Argia Sbordone
The May 2016 forecast of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s (FRBNY) dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model remains broadly in line with those of our two previous semiannual reports (see our May 2015 and December 2015 posts). In the past year, the headwinds that contributed to slower growth in the aftermath of the financial crisis finally began to abate. However, the widening of credit spreads associated with swings in financial markets in the second half of 2015 and the first few months of this year have had a negative impact on economic activity. Despite this setback, the model expects a rebound in growth in the second half of the year, so that the medium-term forecast remains, as in the December post, one of steady, gradual economic expansion. The model also continues to predict gradual progress in the inflation rate toward the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) long-run target of 2 percent.
Grant Aarons, Daniele Caratelli, Matthew Cocci, Domenico Giannone, Argia Sbordone, and Andrea Tambalotti
What is the weather today? You don’t need to be a meteorologist to answer this question. Just take a look outside the window. Macroeconomists do not have this luxury. The first official estimate of GDP this quarter will not be published until the end of July. In fact, we don’t even know what GDP was last quarter yet! But while we wait for these crucial data, we float in a sea of information on all aspects of the economy: employment, production, sales, inventories, you name it. . . . Processing this information to figure out if it is rainy or sunny out there in the economy is the bread and butter of economists on trading desks, at central banks, and in the media. Thankfully, recent advances in computational and statistical methods have led to the development of automated real-time solutions to this challenging big data problem, with an approach commonly referred to as nowcasting. This post describes how we apply these techniques here at the New York Fed to produce the FRBNY Nowcast, and what we can learn from it. It also serves as an introduction to our Nowcasting Report, which we will update weekly on our website starting this Friday, April 15.
Variousnewsreports have asserted that the slowdown in China was a key factor driving down commodity prices in 2015. It is true that China’s growth eased last year and, owing to its manufacturing-intensive economy, that slackening could reasonably have had repercussions for commodity prices. Still, growth in Japan and Europe accelerated in 2015, with the net result that global growth was fairly steady last year, casting doubt on the China slowdown explanation. An alternative story relies on the strong correlation between the dollar and commodity prices over time. A simple regression shows that both global growth and the dollar track commodity prices, and in this framework, it is the rise of the dollar that captures last year’s drop in commodity prices. Thus a forecast of stable global growth and a relatively unchanged dollar suggests little change in commodity prices in 2016.
Everyone disagrees, even professional forecasters, especially about big economic questions. Has potential output growth changed since the financial crisis? Are we bound for a period of “secular stagnation”? Will the European economy rebound? When is inflation getting back to mandate-consistent level? In this post, we document to what degree professional forecasters disagree and discuss potential reasons why.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from economists working at the intersection of research and policy. The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Donald Morgan.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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