The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The New York Fed engages with individuals, households and businesses in the Second District and maintains an active dialogue in the region. The Bank gathers and shares regional economic intelligence to inform our community and policy makers, and promotes sound financial and economic decisions through community development and education programs.
At the end of March, we launched the Weekly Economic Index (WEI) as a tool to monitor changes in real activity during the pandemic. The rapid deterioration in economic conditions made it important to assess developments as soon as possible, rather than waiting for monthly and quarterly data to be released. In this post, we describe how the WEI has measured the effects of COVID-19. So far in 2020, the WEI has synthesized daily and weekly data to measure GDP growth remarkably well. We document this performance, and we offer some guidance on evaluating the WEI’s forecasting abilities based on 2020 data and interpreting WEI updates and revisions.
This post is part of an ongoing series on the credit and liquidity facilities established by the Federal Reserve to support households and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In mid-March, the Federal Reserve announced a slew of credit and liquidity facilities aimed at supporting credit provision to U.S. households and businesses. Among the initiatives is the Commercial Paper Funding Facility
(CPFF) which aims to support market functioning and provide a liquidity backstop for the commercial paper market. The domestic commercial paper market provides a venue for short-term financing for companies which employ more than 6 million Americans. Securities in the commercial paper market represent a key asset class for money market mutual funds. This post documents the dislocations in the commercial paper market that motivated the creation of this facility, and tracks the subsequent improvement in market conditions.
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.
By many measures nonfinancial corporate debt has been increasing as a share of GDP and assets since 2010. As the May Federal Reserve Financial Stability Report explained, high business debt can be a financial stability risk because heavily indebted corporations may need to cut back spending more sharply when shocks occur. Further, when businesses cannot repay their loans, financial institutions and investors incur losses. In this post, we review measures of corporate leverage in the United States. Although corporate debt has soared, concerns about debt growth are mitigated in part by higher corporate cash flows.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reduced the federal corporate profit tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Adding in state profit taxes, the overall U.S. tax rate went from 39 percent, one of the highest rates in the world, to 26 percent, about the average rate abroad. The implications of the new law for U.S. competitiveness depend on how these statutory tax rates compare with the actual rates faced by U.S. and foreign companies. To address this question, this post presents new evidence on tax payments as a share of profits, as well as analytical measures of tax impacts on profitability. We find that the U.S. effective tax rate was already below the average rate abroad prior to enactment of the TCJA, and that it is now well below the rate in most countries.
Anna Kovner, Peter Van Tassel, and Brandon Zborowski
In response to the financial crisis nearly a decade ago, a number of regulations were passed to improve the safety and soundness of the financial system. In this post and our related staff report, we provide a new perspective on the effect of these regulations by estimating the cost of capital for banks over the past two decades. We find that, while banks’ cost of capital soared during the financial crisis, after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA), banks experienced a greater decrease in their cost of capital than nonbanks and nonbank financial intermediaries (NBFI).
Immediately following the presidential election of 2016, both consumer and investor sentiments were buoyant and financial markets boomed. That these sentiments affect financial asset prices is not so surprising, given past stock market evidence and episodes such as the dot-com bubble. Perhaps more surprising, the risk of corporate default—which is driven mainly by firms’ financial health but also by bond liquidity—also fell following the election, as indicated by lower yield spreads. In this post, I show that, although expectations of better corporate and macroeconomic conditions were the primary drivers of lower credit risk, improved investor sentiment also contributed.
Given the long list of problems that have emerged in banks over the past several years, it is time to consider performance bonds for bankers. Performance bonds are used to ensure that appropriate actions are taken by a party when monitoring or enforcement is expensive. A simple example is a security deposit on an apartment rental. The risk of losing the deposit motivates renters to take care of the apartment, relieving the landlord of the need to monitor the premises. Although not quite as simple as a security deposit, performance bonds for bankers could provide more incentive for bankers to take better care of our financial system.
Christopher S. Armstrong, Wayne R. Guay, Hamid Mehran, and Joseph P. Weber
Financial reporting is valuable because corporate governance—which we view as the set of contracts that help align managers’ interests with those of shareholders—can be more efficient when the parties commit themselves to a more transparent information environment. This is a key theme in our recent article “The Role of Financial Reporting and Transparency in Corporate Governance,” which reviews the literature on the part played by financial reporting in resolving agency conflicts among managers, directors, and shareholders. In this post, we highlight some of the governance issues and recommendations discussed in the article.
Oil prices plunged 65 percent between July 2014 and December of the following year. During this period, the yield spread—the yield of a corporate bond minus the yield of a Treasury bond of the same maturity—of energy companies shot up, indicating increased credit risk. Surprisingly, the yield spread of non‑energy firms also rose even though many non‑energy firms might be expected to benefit from lower energy‑related costs. In this blog post, we examine this counterintuitive result. We find evidence of a liquidity spillover, whereby the bonds of more liquid non‑energy firms had to be sold to satisfy investors who withdrew from bond funds in response to falling energy prices.
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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