Did Too-Big-To-Fail Reforms Work Globally?
Once a bank grows beyond a certain size or becomes too complex and interconnected, investors often perceive that it is “too big to fail” (TBTF), meaning that if the bank were to fail, the government would likely bail it out. Following the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008, the G20 countries agreed on a set of reforms to eliminate the perception of TBTF, as part of a broader package to enhance financial stability. In June 2020, the Financial Stability Board (FSB; a 68-member international advisory body set up in 2009) published the results of a year-long evaluation of the effectiveness of TBTF reforms. In this post, I discuss the main conclusions of the report—in particular, the finding that implicit funding subsidies to global banks have decreased since the implementation of reforms but remain at levels comparable to the pre-crisis period.
The New York Fed DSGE Model Forecast—September 2020
This post presents an update of the economic forecasts generated by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model. We describe very briefly our forecast and its change since June 2020.
Consumers Expect Modest Increase in Spending Growth and Continued Government Support
Kosar, Pomerantz, and van der Klauuw highlight key findings from the August 2020 SCE Household Spending Survey and the SCE Public Policy Survey.
COVID-19 and the Search for Digital Alternatives to Cash
This analysis presents evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer payment behavior, finding acceleration in the use of digital payment technology.
Investigating the Effect of Health Insurance in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Does health insurance improve health? This question, while apparently a tautology, has been the subject of considerable economic debate. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has acquired a greater urgency as the lack of universal health insurance has been cited as a cause of the profound racial gap in coronavirus cases, and as a cause of U.S. difficulties in managing the pandemic more generally. However, estimating the effect of health insurance is difficult because it is (generally) not assigned at random. In this post, we approach this question in a novel way by exploiting a natural experiment—the adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion by some states but not others—to tease out the causal effect of a type of health insurance on COVID-19 intensity.
The Official Sector’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic and Moral Hazard
Any time the Federal Reserve or the official sector more broadly provides support to the economy during a crisis, the intervention raises concerns related to moral hazard. Moral hazard can occur when market participants do not bear the negative consequences of the risks they take. This lack of consequences can encourage even greater risks, due to the expectation of future government help. In this post, we consider the potential for moral hazard stemming from the Fed’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and explain why moral hazard concerns were likely more severe in 2008.
Market Failures and Official Sector Interventions
In the United States and other free market economies, the official sector typically has minimal involvement in market activities absent a clear rationale to justify intervention, such as a market failure. In this post, we consider arguments for official sector intervention, focusing on the market failure arising from externalities related to business closures. These externalities are likely to be particularly high for closures arising from pandemic-related economic disruptions. We discuss how the official sector, including institutions such as Congress and the Treasury, can increase social welfare by acting to minimize the fixed costs of business start-up and failure, including the costs associated with unemployment, beyond the level set by private markets alone.
Expanding the Toolkit: Facilities Established to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Anna Kovner and Antoine Martin argue that the “credit” and lending facilities established by the Fed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while unprecedented, are a natural extension of the central bank’s existing toolkit.
How Did State Reopenings Affect Small Businesses?
In our previous post, we looked at the effects that the reopening of state economies across the United States has had on consumer spending. We found a significant effect of reopening, especially regarding spending in restaurants and bars as well as in the healthcare sector. In this companion post, we focus specifically on small businesses, using two different sources of high-frequency data, and we employ a methodology similar to that of our previous post to study the effects of reopening on small business activity along various dimensions. Our results indicate that, much like for consumer spending, reopenings had positive and significant effects in the short term on small business revenues, the number of active merchants, and the number of employees working in small businesses. It is important to stress that we are not expressing any views in this post on the normative question of whether, when, or how states should loosen or tighten restrictions aimed at controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Did State Reopenings Increase Consumer Spending?
The spread of COVID-19 in the United States has had a profound impact on economic activity. Beginning in March, most states imposed severe restrictions on households and businesses to slow the spread of the virus. This was followed by a gradual loosening of restrictions (“reopening”) starting in April. As the virus has re-emerged over the last few weeks, a number of states have taken steps to reverse the reopening of their economies. For example, Texas and Florida closed bars again in June, and Arizona additionally paused operations of gyms and movie theatres. Taken together, these measures raise the question of how closures and reopenings affect consumer spending. In this post, we investigate how much consumer spending increased after the reopenings. It is important to stress that we are not expressing any views on the normative question of whether, when, or how states should loosen or tighten restrictions aimed at controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.