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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.
William Chen, Marco Del Negro, Shlok Goyal, and Alissa Johnson
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.
Viral V. Acharya, Matteo Crosignani, Tim Eisert, and Christian Eufinger
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.
Ryan Bush, Haitham Jendoubi, Matthew Raskin, and Giorgio Topa
In late August, as part of the Federal Reserve’s review of Monetary Policy Strategy, Tools, and Communications, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) published a revised Statement on Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy. As observers have noted, the revised statement incorporated important changes to the Federal Reserve’s approach to monetary policy. This includes emphasizing maximum employment as a broad-based and inclusive goal and focusing on “shortfalls” rather than “deviations” of employment from its maximum level. The statement also noted that, in order to anchor longer-term inflation expectations at the FOMC’s longer-run goal, the Committee would seek to achieve inflation that averages 2 percent over time. In this post, we investigate the possible impact of these changes on financial market participants’ expectations for policy rate outcomes, based on responses to the Survey of Primary Dealers (SPD) and Survey of Market Participants (SMP) conducted by the New York Fed’s Open Market Trading Desk both shortly before and after the conclusion of the framework review. We find that the conclusion of the framework review coincided with 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 at the time of the next increase in the federal funds target range (or “liftoff”).
Jaison R. Abel, Jason Bram, Richard Deitz, and Jonathan Hastings
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-wage 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.
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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