Liberty Street Economics
April 17, 2020

Treasury Market Liquidity during the COVID-19 Crisis

A key objective of recent Federal Reserve policy actions is to address the deterioration in financial market functioning. The U.S. Treasury securities market, in particular, has been the subject of Fed and market participants’ concerns, and the venue for some of the Fed’s initiatives. In this post, we evaluate a basic metric of market functioning for Treasury securities—market liquidity—through the first month of the Fed’s extraordinary actions. Our particular focus is on how liquidity in March 2020 compares to that observed over the past fifteen years, a period that includes the 2007-09 financial crisis.

April 16, 2020

How Widespread Is the Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Consumer Expectations?

In a recent blog post, we showed that consumer expectations worsened sharply through March, as the COVID-19 epidemic spread and affected a growing part of the U.S. population. In this post, we document how much of this deterioration can be directly attributed to the coronavirus outbreak. We then explore how the effect of the outbreak has varied over time and across demographic groups.

New York Fed Surveys: Business Activity in the Region Sees Historic Plunge in April

Indicators of regional business activity plunged to historic lows in early April, as efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus kept many people at home and shut down large parts of the regional economy, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s two business surveys. The headline index for both surveys plummeted to nearly -80, well below any historical precedent including the depths of the Great Recession. About 60 percent of service firms and more than half of manufacturers reported at least a partial shutdown of their operations thus far. Layoffs were widespread, with half of all businesses surveyed reporting lower employment levels in early April.

April 15, 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Fed’s Response

In this post, the authors review the Fed’s action following the coronavirus outbreak, and compare it with the response to the 2007-09 financial crisis.

April 10, 2020

Helping State and Local Governments Stay Liquid

On April 9, the Federal Reserve announced up to $2.3 trillion in new support for the economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among the initiatives is the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF), intended to support state and local governments. The details of the facility are described in the term sheet. The state and local sector is a unique but very important part of the economy. This post lays out some of the economics of the sector and the needs that the facility intends to satisfy.

The Coronavirus Shock Looks More like a Natural Disaster than a Cyclical Downturn

It’s tempting to compare the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic to prior business cycle downturns, particularly the Great Recession. However, such comparisons may not be particularly apt—as evidenced by the unprecedented surge in initial jobless claims over the past three weeks. Recessions typically develop gradually over time, reflecting underlying economic and financial conditions, whereas the current economic situation developed suddenly as a consequence of a fast-moving global pandemic. A more appropriate comparison would be to a regional economy suffering the effects of a severe natural disaster, like Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina or Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. To illustrate this point, we track the recent path of unemployment claims in the United States, finding a much closer match with Louisiana after Katrina than the U.S. economy following the Great Recession.

April 8, 2020

How Does Supervision Affect Bank Performance during Downturns?

New research finds that there is a cyclical nature to the benefits of bank supervisory attention: in normal times, the benefits are smaller, but during downturns the more closely supervised banks exhibit better loan performance and lower earnings volatility.

April 6, 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak Sends Consumer Expectations Plummeting

The March Survey of Consumer Expectations, which was fielded between March 2 and 31, records a substantial deterioration in financial and economic expectations, including sharp declines in household income and spending growth expectations.

How the Fed Managed the Treasury Yield Curve in the 1940s

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the Federal Reserve to pledge to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amount needed to support the smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to the economy. But some market participants have questioned whether something more might not be required, including possibly some form of direct yield curve control. In the first half of the 1940s the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sought to manage the level and shape of the Treasury yield curve. In this post, we examine what can be learned from the FOMC’s efforts of seventy-five years ago.

April 2, 2020

The Value of Opacity in a Banking Crisis

During crisis periods, we often observe regulators limiting access to bank&#8209level information with the goal of restoring the public’s confidence in banks. Thus, information management often plays a central role in ending financial crises. Despite the perceived importance of managing information about individual banks during a financial crisis, we are not aware of any empirical work that quantifies the effect of such policies. In this blog post, we highlight results from our recent working paper, demonstrating that in a crisis, a policy of suppressing information about banks’ balance sheets has a significant and positive effect on deposits.

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Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.

The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.

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