An annual tradition at Liberty Street Economics is to present our most-read posts of the year. Given the events of 2020, New York Fed economists and guest coauthors focused their analysis on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, writing some seventy articles since March on the subject. Our leading posts, in terms of traffic, all touch on the theme in some way. Consider this space a hub for COVID-19 coverage for some time to come, and take a look back at the top five posts grabbing attention in 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 September 2020.
As usual, we wish to remind our readers that the DSGE model forecast is not an official New York Fed forecast, but only an input to the Research staff’s overall forecasting process. For more information about the model and variables discussed here, see our DSGE model Q & A. Note that interactive charts are now available for DSGE model forecasts.
Even after the unprecedented stimulus by central banks in Europe following the global financial crisis, Europe’s economic growth and inflation have remained depressed, consistently undershooting projections. In a striking resemblance to Japan’s “lost decades,” the European economy has been recently characterized by persistently low interest rates and the provision of cheap bank credit to impaired firms, or “zombie credit.” In this post, based on a recent staff report, we propose a “zombie credit channel” that links the rise of zombie credit to dis-inflationary pressures.
“U.S. stocks are racing toward a second consecutive quarter of dramatic gains, continuing a historic stock-market recovery that few predicted in the depths of the March downturn,” said a September Wall Street Journal article. “The stock market is detached from economic reality. A reckoning is coming,” said the Washington Post. What is going on? In this post, I look not at what stocks have actually done or will do, but at what investors expected should have happened, and what they expect will happen going forward. It turns out that, at least by the particular measure of expectations I consider, investors expected stock returns to be high all along and continue to expect the same in the future.
Survey data reveal a notable shift in market participants’ perceptions of the FOMC’s policy rate “reaction function” in the direction of higher expected inflation and lower expected unemployment ahead of the next rate “liftoff.”
The New York-Northern New Jersey region experienced an unprecedented downturn earlier this year, one more severe than that of the nation, and the region is still struggling to make up the ground that was lost. That is the key takeaway at an economic press briefing held today by the New York Fed examining economic conditions during the pandemic in the Federal Reserve’s Second District. Despite the substantial recovery so far, business activity, consumer spending, and employment are all still well below pre-pandemic levels in much of the region, and fiscal pressures are mounting for state and local governments. Importantly, job losses among lower-income workers and people of color have been particularly consequential. The pace of recovery was already slowing in the region before the most recent surge in coronavirus cases, and we are now seeing signs of renewed weakening as we enter the winter.
Leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, there were growing concerns about corporate sector indebtedness. High levels of borrowing may give rise to a “debt overhang” problem, particularly during downturns, whereby firms forego good investment opportunities because of an inability to raise additional funding. In this post, we show that firms with high levels of borrowing at the onset of the Great Recession underperformed in the following years, compared to similar—but less indebted—firms. These findings, together with early data on the revenue contractions following the COVID-19 outbreak, suggest that debt overhang during the COVID-recession could lead to an up to 10 percent decrease in growth for firms in industries most affected by the economic repercussions of the battle against the outbreak.