Liberty Street Economics
June 05, 2015

Crisis Chronicles: Railway Mania, the Hungry Forties, and the Commercial Crisis of 1847



Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 15 to clarify details regarding suspension of the Bank Act.

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Money was plentiful in the United Kingdom in 1842, and with low yields on government bonds and railway shares paying handsome dividends, the desire to speculate spread—as one observer put it, “the contagion passed to all, and from the clerk to the capitalist the fever reigned uncontrollable and uncontrolled” (Francis’s History of the Bank of England). And so began railway mania. Just as that bubble began to burst, a massive harvest failure in England and Ireland led to surging food imports, which drained gold reserves from the Bank of England. Constrained by the Bank Charter Act, the Bank responded by tightening policy. When food prices fell in the spring of 1847 on the prospects for a successful harvest, commodity speculators were caught short and a crisis, one of the worst in British history (Bordo), ensued. In this edition of Crisis Chronicles, we cover the Commercial Crisis of 1847.

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

June 03, 2015

Does Business Training Work?



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Leaders of both developing and advanced economies believe that encouraging the development of small businesses will lead to job creation and economic growth. As such, many governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) promote the use of business training programs to help grow small businesses. For example, an  international business literacy program called Start and Improve Your Business has been introduced in more than one hundred countries and reached more than 4.5 million potential and existing entrepreneurs between 2003 and 2010 according to the International Labour Organization. Similar programs have been undertaken also in the United States. The Small Business Administration, among many other programs, supports a network of Small Business Development Centers that provide free and low-cost business consulting and training. In this post, we show that the expected benefits of these interventions may vary widely between developed and developing economies.

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

June 01, 2015

What Drives Buyout Booms and Busts?



Buyout activity by financial investors fluctuates substantially over time. In the United States, peak years result in close to one hundred public-to-private buyout transactions and trough years in as few as ten. The typical buyout is primarily funded by debt, hence the term “leveraged buyout” (or LBO). As a result, analysis of buyout fluctuations has focused on the availability and cost of debt financing. However, in a recent staff report, we find that the overall cost of capital, rather than debt alone, is the primary driver of buyout activity. We argue that it is the common changes in both the cost of debt and the cost of equity—the aggregate risk premium—that are the source of booms and busts in buyout activity.

May 29, 2015

Historical Echoes: Move Over Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, Let’s Pay Homage to the -- Stereoscopic Viewer!



LSE_2015_stereoscopic-viewer_farber_250_art Within the New York Public Library Digital Collections is the Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views. Stereoscopic photographs were viewed with a stereoscopic viewer or stereoscope. According to the “About” tab of the NYPL page for the collection, “During the period between the 1850s and the 1910s, stereos were a mainstay of home entertainment, perhaps second only to reading as a personal leisure activity.” They also functioned as a way for people to travel vicariously, or as an aid to the study of history and other cultures. You know you’ve found an image meant to be seen with a stereoscopic viewer when it is double, with the images slightly askew from one another. The kinds of images that were particularly suitable as subjects for stereoscopic photography were those involving objects at varying distances from the viewer (for example, landscapes and cityscapes). (This is only one form of stereoscopy, which incorporates other technologies.)
Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Historical Echoes | Permalink | Comments ( 0 )

May 28, 2015

Just Released: 2015 SCE Housing Survey Shows Households Optimistic about Housing Market



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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released results from its 2015 SCE Housing Survey. The survey, administered to 1,205 U.S. household heads in February, is a follow-up to the one conducted in February 2014. The purpose of the effort is to collect rich and high-quality information on consumers’ experiences and expectations regarding housing. The survey collects data on individuals’ perceptions and expectations of the growth in home prices, intentions regarding moving or buying a new home, and their access to credit, among other things.

Posted by Blog Author at 10:15 AM in Household Finance , Housing | Permalink | Comments ( 0 )

Just Released: What Do Banking Supervisors Do?



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In most developed economies, banking is among the most regulated and supervised sectors. While “regulation” and “supervision” are often used interchangeably, these two activities are distinct. Banking supervision is a complement to regulation, but its scope is much broader than simply ensuring that an institution is in compliance with regulation. Despite the importance of supervision, information about it is often limited, both because of the heavy reliance upon banks’ confidential information and because many supervisory activities and actions are themselves confidential. In a recently released Staff Report, we shed more light on the topic by describing the Federal Reserve’s supervisory approach for large, complex financial institutions and how supervision of such firms is conducted on a day-to-day basis at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as part of this broader supervisory program.

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

May 27, 2015

The Eurodollar Market in the United States



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In February, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s trading desk announced it will publish a new overnight bank funding rate early next year. The new rate will be based on both federal funds and Eurodollar transactions reported in a new data collection—the FR 2420 Report of Selected Money Market Rates. In a previous post, we explained how FR 2420 fed funds transaction data will replace brokered data as the base for the fed funds effective rate. This post provides insights on the Eurodollar market in advance of the publication of the overnight bank funding rate.


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?

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.

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.

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

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Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from economists working at the intersection of research and policy.

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