Liberty Street Economics
January 07, 2015

What Does Disagreement Tell Us about Uncertainty?



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Uncertainty is of considerable interest for understanding the behavior of individuals as well as the movements in key macroeconomic and financial variables. Despite its importance, direct measures of uncertainty aren’t widely available. Because of this data limitation, a common practice is to use survey-based measures of forecast dispersion—reflecting disagreement among respondents—to proxy for uncertainty. Is this a reliable practice? Here, we review the distinction between disagreement and uncertainty as concepts, and show that this conceptual distinction carries over to their empirical counterparts, suggesting that disagreement is not generally a good proxy for uncertainty.

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Education , Macroecon | Permalink | Comments ( 3 )

January 05, 2015

Worker Flows in Banking Regulation



In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, job transitions of personnel in banking supervision and regulation between the public and private sectors—often labeled the revolving door—have come under intense scrutiny and have been blamed by certain economists (Johnson and Kwak), legal scholars (John Coffee in the Financial Times), and policymakers (Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, Section 968) for distorting regulators’ actions in favor of banks. However, other commentators have downplayed these distortions and presented a more benign viewpoint of these worker flows—as a means for regulatory agencies to attract higher-ability and skilled workers. Because data on job transitions in banking regulatory agencies are scarce, these discussions are mostly informed by anecdotes. Our recent paper brings more rigor to this debate by contributing a first set of stylized facts based on data related to incidence and drivers of worker flows in U.S. banking regulation. Our data show clear evidence of higher worker inflows to the regulatory sector during bad economic conditions. When we study worker flows as a function of an enforcement proxy, we find evidence to be inconsistent with the often-cited “quid-pro-quo” hypothesis. We instead posit an alternative “regulatory schooling” hypothesis that may better explain the empirical evidence.
Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Corporate Finance | Permalink | Comments ( 0 )

January 02, 2015

Historical Echoes: The Demise of Silver Certificates



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On June 24, 1968, thousands of people swarmed assay offices in the United States, anxious to unload their holdings of silver certificates. The U.S. Treasury had deemed this the final date on which the certificates could be exchanged for silver bullion. People camped out overnight to ensure that they would beat the deadline, and the resulting lines stretched for hours. Life Magazine covered the story, and offered a history of silver certificates in the United States.

Posted by Blog Author at 11:04 AM in Historical Echoes | Permalink | Comments ( 0 )

December 29, 2014

Data Insight: Which Growth Rate? It’s a Weighty Subject



The growth rate in real gross domestic product (GDP) is a conventional indicator of the economy’s health. But the two ways of measuring annual GDP growth can give very different answers. In 2013, GDP grew 2.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, but at a faster 3.1 percent rate on a Q4-over-Q4 basis. So, which measure is more meaningful? We show in this post that the Q4/Q4 metric is better since it only considers quarterly growth rates during the current year, while the Year/Year measure depends on quarterly growth rates in both the current and previous year and puts considerable weight on growth around the turn of the year.
Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon | Permalink | Comments ( 3 )

December 22, 2014

Is There a Future for Credit Default Swap Futures?



Last year, IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) launched a credit default swap index futures contract. In the first two weeks there were spurts of interest in it, but soon it became evident that the new product was unable to generate sufficient demand. Given their short life span in the credit default swaps (CDS) market, the question becomes why were these futures contracts launched in the first place? And, assuming that they were created in response to a real need of market participants, will we see a revival of swap futures in the future?
Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Markets | Permalink | Comments ( 1 )

December 19, 2014

Just Released: New Source for Perspective on Regional Household Debt and Credit



The New York Fed has released a new product—the Household Debt and Credit Report for the Second District—which tracks consumer credit conditions in the tri-state area. Our readers are already familiar with our Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, which primarily tracks credit measures—including balances, delinquencies, and new originations—aggregated to the national level. This report will provide a detailed examination of borrowing and repayment behavior on an ongoing basis for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and each of the five boroughs of New York City. It is based on the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel (CCP), a 5 percent representative sample of credit reports from Equifax. In this post, we highlight selected findings from these new regional profiles.
Posted by Blog Author at 11:15 AM in Household Finance | Permalink | Comments ( 1 )

Historical Echoes: Santa Claus as Legal Tender



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From 1793 until 1861, when the U. S. Treasury Department was given exclusive rights to produce legal tender, thousands of different styles of bank notes were created by U.S. banks. The banks all based their currencies on standardized units, but in most every other way the notes differed wildly—colorful versus monochromatic, and graphics ranging from stock images to almost any concept one could imagine.

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

December 08, 2014

Global Asset Prices and the Taper Tantrum Revisited



Global asset market developments during the summer of 2013 have been attributed to changes in the outlook for U.S. monetary policy, starting with former Chairman Bernanke’s May 22 comments concerning future curtailing of the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase programs. A previous post found that the signal of a possible change in U.S. monetary policy coincided with an increase in global risk aversion which put downward pressure on global asset prices. This post revisits this episode by measuring the impact of changes in Fed’s expected policy rate path and in the economic outlook on the U.S. dollar and emerging market equity prices. The analysis suggests that changes in the U.S. and foreign outlooks had a meaningful role in explaining global asset price movements during the so-called taper tantrum.

December 05, 2014

Survey Measures of Expectations for the Policy Rate




Liberty Street Economics Blog Derivatives and Monetary Policy Expectations
Second in a two-part series
Market prices provide timely information on policy expectations. But as we emphasized in our previous post, they can deviate from investors’ expectations of the most likely path because they embed risk premiums and represent probability-weighted averages over different possible paths. In contrast, surveys explicitly ask respondents for their views on the likely path of economic variables. In this post, we highlight two surveys conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that provide information about expectations that can complement market-based measures.

Interest Rate Derivatives and Monetary Policy Expectations



First in a two-part series
Market expectations of the path of future policy rates can have important implications for financial markets and the economy. Because interest rate derivatives enable market participants to hedge against or speculate on potential changes in various short-term U.S. interest rates, they are a rich and timely source of information on market expectations. In this post, we describe how information about market expectations can be derived from interest rate futures and forwards, focusing on three main instruments: federal funds futures, overnight index swaps (OIS), and Eurodollar futures. We also discuss how options on interest rate futures can be used to gain insight into the full distribution of rate expectations—information that cannot be gleaned from futures or forwards alone. In a forthcoming companion post, we explore an alternative source of policy rate expectations based on the two surveys conducted by the Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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

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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