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93 posts on "Macroecon"

May 20, 2015

Why Are Interest Rates So Low?



Second post in the series
In a recent series of blog posts, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke, has asked the question: “Why are interest rates so low?” (See part 1, part 2, and part 3.) He refers, of course, to the fact that the U.S. government is able to borrow at an annualized rate of around 2 percent for ten years, or around 3 percent for thirty years. If you expect that inflation is going to be on average 2 percent over the next ten or thirty years, this implies that the U.S. government can borrow at real rates of interest between 0 and 1 percent at the ten- and thirty-year maturities. This phenomenon is by no means limited to the United States. Governments in Japan and Germany are able to borrow for ten years at nominal rates below 1 percent, and the ten-year yield on Swiss government debt is slightly negative. Why is that?

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Markets, Macroecon, Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (7)

May 18, 2015

The FRBNY DSGE Model Forecast--April 2015



First in a two-part series

There are various types of economic forecasts, such as judgmental forecasts or model-based forecasts. In this post, we provide an update of the economic forecasts implied by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s (FRBNY) dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model, which we introduced in a series of five blog posts in September 2014 here. It continues to predict a gradual recovery in economic activity with a progressive but slow return of inflation toward the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) long-run target of 2 percent. This forecast remains surrounded by significant uncertainty. Please note that the DSGE model forecasts are not the official New York Fed staff forecasts, but only an input to the overall forecasting process at the Bank.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon, Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 15, 2015

Just Released: The New York Fed Staff Forecast, May 2015



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Today, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) is hosting the spring meeting of its Economic Advisory Panel (EAP). As has become custom at this meeting, FRBNY staff are presenting their forecast for U.S. growth, inflation, and unemployment through the end of 2016. Following the presentation, members of the EAP, which consists of leading economists in academia and the private sector, are asked to discuss the staff forecast. Such feedback helps the staff evaluate the assumptions and reasoning underlying the forecast and the key risks to it. Subjecting the staff forecast to periodic evaluation is also important because it informs the staff’s discussions with New York Fed President William Dudley about economic conditions. In that same spirit, we are sharing a short summary of the staff forecast in this post.  For more detail, please see the material from the EAP meeting on our website.

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Posted by Blog Author at 10:30 AM in Macroecon, Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 06, 2015

U.S. Potential Economic Growth: Is It Improving with Age?



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The contribution of labor input to the potential GDP growth rate for the United States has changed over time. We decompose this contribution into two components: the size of the adult population and the average demographically adjusted employment rate. We find that these two components in the late 1960s and early 1970s contributed at least 2.5 percentage points to potential growth. Since the mid-1990s, the aging of the population has reduced the contribution of labor to growth. We estimate that the current contribution to potential economic growth from labor input has declined to around 0.6 percentage points. One implication going forward is that more labor productivity growth will be required to sustain U.S. growth.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Labor Economics, Macroecon | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 20, 2015

Credit Supply and the Housing Boom



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There is no consensus among economists as to what drove the rise of U.S. house prices and household debt in the period leading up to the recent financial crisis. In this post, we argue that the fundamental factor behind that boom was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit, which was brought about by securitization and shadow banking, along with a surge in capital inflows from abroad. This argument is based on the interpretation of four macroeconomic developments between 2000 and 2006 provided by a general equilibrium model of housing and credit.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon | Permalink | Comments (5)

April 01, 2015

Central Bank Solvency and Inflation



The monetary base in the United States, defined as currency plus bank reserves, grew from about $800 billion in 2008 to $2 trillion in 2012, and to roughly $4 trillion at the end of 2014 (see chart below). Some commentators have viewed this increase in the monetary base as a sure harbinger of inflation. For example, one economist wrote that this “unprecedented expansion of the money supply could make the '70s look benign.” These predictions of inflation rest on the monetarist argument that nominal income is proportional to the money supply. The fact that the money supply has expanded rapidly while real income has grown very modestly means that sooner or later prices will have to catch up. Most academic economists (from Cochrane to Krugman and Mankiw) disagree. The monetarist argument arguably applies only to non-interest-bearing central bank liabilities, but since October 2008 a large fraction of the monetary base has consisted of reserves that pay interest (the so-called IOER, or interest on excess reserves) and one linchpin of the Fed’s “policy normalization principles” consists precisely in raising the IOER along with the federal funds rate. Since reserves pay close to market interest rates, they are close substitutes for other short-term assets such as Treasury bills from a bank’s perspective. As long as the central bank can affect the return on these short-term assets by adjusting the IOER, controlling inflation with a large balance sheet seems no different than it was before the Great Recession.

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Posted by Blog Author at 8:38 AM in Fiscal Policy, Macroecon, Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 25, 2015

Choosing the Right Policy in Real Time (Why That’s Not Easy)



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Second in a two-part series

As an economist, you make policy recommendations at any point in time that depend on what model of the economy you have in mind and on your assessment of the state of the economy. One can see these points play out in the current discussion about the timing of interest rate liftoff and the speed of the subsequent renormalization. If you think nominal rigidities are not all that important, you are likely to conclude that accommodative policies won’t do much for growth but will generate inflation. Similarly, if you are convinced that the economy is already firing on all cylinders, you may see little need for prolonged accommodation. The problem is, you are not quite sure about the state of the economy or what the right model is. If you are a Bayesian, you may want to try to put probabilities on different models/states of the world and take it from there. The first post in this series, “Combining Models for Forecasting and Policy Analysis,” introduced a procedure called dynamic pools that shows how to do just that. In this post, we apply that procedure to a policy exercise. We can’t publicly discuss current policies, so we will instead apply our method to consider alternative monetary policies at the onset of the Great Recession.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon, Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 23, 2015

Combining Models for Forecasting and Policy Analysis



First in a two-part series

Model uncertainty is pervasive. Economists, bloggers, policymakers all have different views of how the world works and what economic policies would make it better. These views are, like it or not, models. Some people spell them out in their entirety, equations and all. Others refuse to use the word altogether, possibly out of fear of being falsified. No model is “right,” of course, but some models are worse than others, and we can have an idea of which is which by comparing their predictions with what actually happened. If you are open-minded, you may actually want to combine models in making forecasts or policy analysis. This post discusses one way to do this, based on a recent paper of ours (Del Negro, Hasegawa, and Schorfheide 2014).

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon, Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 02, 2015

Euro Area Inflation Expectations–Anchors Away?



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Euro area inflation expectations have been falling at both short- and long-term horizons, with the latter development suggesting the current low inflation environment is perceived as likely to persist. Because long-term inflation expectations play a key role in the decisions of households and firms, economists have stressed the importance of long-term inflation expectations being anchored at a central bank’s target. In this post, we use survey data on inflation forecasts to document evidence of recent “unanchoring” of euro area long-term inflation expectations, and note the difference in comparison to the 2008-09 period, when current inflation and short-term inflation expectations also declined but long-term inflation expectations remained steady.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon, Monetary Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 25, 2015

The 2005 Bankruptcy Reform and the Foreclosure Crisis



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Second in a two-part series

Our previous post showed that the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) was associated with a sizable rise in foreclosure, in addition to a decline in bankruptcy filings and a rise in insolvency. In this post, we examine one possible explanation for the rise in foreclosure: the substitution hypothesis. Prior to the 2005 reform, individuals facing insolvency could discharge their unsecured debt via bankruptcy, thus retaining the ability to remain current on their home debts. After the reform, since bankruptcy became too expensive for many, default on home loans was the most effective way for these individuals to reduce outstanding debt. The idea that BAPCPA caused a shift from bankruptcy to foreclosure is not new; see Morgan et al. (2012) and Li, White, and Zhu (2011). In this post, we use the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Consumer Credit Panel (based on Equifax data, described here) to provide evidence on the mechanism through which this substitution occurred, and to precisely quantify the magnitude of its impact on foreclosures.

Continue reading "The 2005 Bankruptcy Reform and the Foreclosure Crisis" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon | Permalink | Comments (1)
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