China’s leader Xi Jinping recently laid out the goal of reaching the per capita income of “a mid-level developed country by 2035.” Is this goal likely to be achieved? Not in our view. Continued rapid growth faces mounting headwinds from population aging and from diminishing returns to China’s investment-centered growth model. Additional impediments to growth appear to be building, including a turn toward increased state management of the economy, the crystallization of legacy credit issues in real estate and other sectors, and limits on access to key foreign technologies. Even given generous assumptions concerning future growth fundamentals, China appears likely to close only a fraction of the gap with high-income countries in the years ahead.
After forty-three months of forbearance, the pause on federal student loan payments has ended. Originally enacted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the administrative forbearance and interest waiver lasted until September 1, 2023, and borrowers’ monthly payments resumed this month. As discussed in an accompanying post, the pause on student loan payments afforded borrowers over $260 billion in waived payments throughout the pandemic, supporting borrowers’ consumption and savings over the last three years. In this post, we analyze responses of student loan borrowers to special questions in the August 2023 SCE Household Spending Survey designed to gauge the expected impact of the payment resumption on future spending growth, the risk of credit delinquency for borrowers, and the economy at large. The findings suggest that the payment resumption will have a relatively small overall effect on consumption, on the order of a 0.1 percentage point reduction in aggregate spending from August levels, and a (delayed) return of student loan delinquency rates back to pre-pandemic levels. Across groups, we see little variation in spending responses but find that low-income borrowers, female borrowers, those with less than a bachelor’s degree, and those who were not in repayment before the pandemic expect the highest likelihood of missed student loan payments.
The strength of consumer spending so far this year has surprised most private forecasters. In this post, we examine the factors behind this strength and the implications for consumption in the coming quarters. First, we revisit the measurement of “excess savings” that households have accumulated since 2020, finding that the estimates of remaining excess savings are very sensitive to assumptions about measurement, estimation period, and trend type, which renders them less useful. We thus broaden the discussion to other aspects of the household balance sheet. Using data from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, we calculate the additional cash flows made available for consumption as a result of households’ adjustments to their debt holdings. To detect signs of stress in household financial positions, we examine recent trends in delinquencies and find the evidence to be mixed, suggesting that certain stresses have emerged for some households. In contrast, we find that the New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations still points to a solid outlook for consumer spending.
In a 2022 post, we showed how liquidity conditions in the U.S. Treasury securities market had worsened as supply disruptions, high inflation, and geopolitical conflict increased uncertainty about the expected path of interest rates. In this post, we revisit some commonly used metrics to assess how market liquidity has evolved since. We find that liquidity worsened abruptly in March 2023 after the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, but then quickly improved to levels close to those of the preceding year. As in 2022, liquidity in 2023 continues to closely track the level that would be expected by the path of interest rate volatility.
Childhood experiences have an enormous impact on children’s long-term societal contributions. Experiencing childhood maltreatment is associated with compromised physical and mental health, decreased educational attainment and future earnings, and increased criminal activity. Child protective services is the government’s way of endeavoring to protect children. Foster care consequently has large potential effects on a child’s future education, earnings, and criminal activity. In this post, we draw on a recent study to document disparities in the likelihood that children of different races will be placed into foster care.
Numerous studies have documented the rising dominance of large firms over the last few decades in many industrialized countries. Many research papers have focused on the potential negative effects of this increased market concentration, raising concerns about market power in both labor and product markets. In a new study, we investigate whether large firms also generate positive effects. Our research shows that large firms generate significant positive total factor productivity (TFP) spillovers to their domestic suppliers. To date, these types of spillovers have only been identified for multinational enterprises located in developing countries. Using firm-to-firm transaction data for an industrialized country, Belgium, we find that large domestic firms, as well as multinationals, generate positive TFP spillovers.
Household saving soared in the United States and other high-income economies during the pandemic, as consumers cut back on spending while government policies supported incomes. More recently, saving behavior has diverged, with the U.S. saving rate dropping below its pre-pandemic average while saving rates elsewhere have remained above their pre-pandemic averages. As a result, U.S. consumers have been spending down the “excess savings” built up during the pandemic while the excess savings abroad remain untapped. This divergent behavior helps explain why U.S. GDP has returned to its pre-pandemic trend path even as GDP levels in other high-income economies continue to run well below trend.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) communicates the stance of monetary policy through a target range for the federal funds rate, which is the rate set in the market for uncollateralized short-term lending and borrowing of central bank reserves in the U.S. Since the global financial crisis, the market for federal funds has changed markedly. In this post, we take a closer look at who is currently trading in the federal funds market, as well as the reasons for their participation.
The share of income going to high-income households has increased significantly in the United States in recent decades. In 1980, the average income share of earners in the top 10 percent was around 30 percent. However, by 2015, it had surpassed 45 percent. The employment share of small firms has also declined, with a decrease of approximately 5 percentage points over the same period. In this post, we use variation across states to show a correlation between these two developments, with states having the greatest increase in the upper income share also tending to be those with the biggest job creation declines in small firms compared to large firms. One explanation for this correlation is that the increase in the income share of the highest income earners reduced deposits in small and medium-size banks from what they otherwise would have been. In doing so, this shift in income reduced the available credit for small firms, putting them at a disadvantage relative to large firms.
This post estimates “convenience yields” for government debt in ten of the G11 currencies based on analysis from a recent paper. As in our companion post, we measure convenience yields with option-implied box rate data that is estimated from options traded on the main stock market index in each country. We find that a country’s average convenience yield is closely related to its level of interest rates. In addition, we find that average covered interest parity (CIP) deviations are roughly the same across countries when they are measured with box rates. We rationalize these findings with a model in which convenience yields depend on domestic financial intermediaries, but CIP deviations depend on international arbitrageurs funded with dollar debt.