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86 posts on "Credit"
September 26, 2022

Is China Running Out of Policy Space to Navigate Future Economic Challenges?

Photo: Chinese shoppers lining up to buy shopping carts full of items within a store

After making progress slowing the pace of debt accumulation prior to the pandemic, China saw its debt levels surge in 2020 as the government responded to the severe economic slowdown with credit-led stimulus. With China currently in the midst of another sharp decline in economic activity due to its property slump and zero-COVID strategy, Chinese authorities have responded again by pushing out credit to soften the downturn despite already high levels of debt on corporate, household, and  government balance sheets. In this post, we revisit China’s debt buildup and consider the growing constraints on Chinese policymakers’ tools to navigate future economic challenges.

September 6, 2022

Small Business Recovery after Natural Disasters

The first post of this series found that small businesses owned by people of color are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. In this post, we focus on the aftermath of disasters, and examine disparities in the ability of firms to reopen their businesses and access disaster relief. Our results indicate that Black-owned firms are more likely to remain closed for longer periods and face greater difficulties in obtaining the immediate relief needed to cope with a natural disaster.

How Do Natural Disasters Affect U.S. Small Business Owners?

Recent research has linked climate change and socioeconomic inequality (see here, here, and here). But what are the effects of climate change on small businesses, particularly those owned by people of color, which tend to be more resource-constrained and less resilient? In a series of two posts, we use the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS) to document small businesses’ experiences with natural disasters and how these experiences differ based on the race and ethnicity of business owners. This first post shows that small firms owned by people of color sustain losses from natural disasters at a disproportionately higher rate than other small businesses, and that these losses make up a larger portion of their total revenues. In the second post, we explore the ability of small firms to reopen and to obtain disaster relief funding in the aftermath of climate events. 

July 11, 2022

Consumer Scores and Price Discrimination

Photo: Woman shopping online with smartphone and making a payment

Most American consumers likely are familiar with credit scores, as every lender in the United States uses them to evaluate credit risk. But the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) that many firms use to target ads, prices, products, and service levels to individual consumers may be less familiar, or the Affluence Index that ranks households according to their spending power. These are just a few among a plethora of scores that have emerged recently, consequence of the abundant consumer data that can be gathered online. Such consumer scores use data on age, ethnicity, gender, household income, zip code, and purchases as inputs to create numbers that proxy for consumer characteristics or behaviors that are of interest to firms. Unlike traditional credit scores, however, these scores are not available to consumers. Can a consumer benefit from data collection even if the ensuing scores are eventually used “against” her, for instance, by enabling firms to set individualized prices? Would it help her to know her score? And how would firms try to counteract the consumer’s response?

Posted at 7:00 am in Credit, Household Finance | Permalink | Comments (2)
July 6, 2022

Did Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program Improve Access for Underserved Firms?

Photo: African American woman business owner with COVID mask putting up sign for business reopening

Prior research has shown that many small and minority-owned businesses failed to receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in 2020. To increase program uptake to underserved firms, several changes were made to the PPP in 2021. Using data from the Federal Reserve Banks’ 2021 Small Business Credit Survey, we argue that these changes were effective in improving program access for nonemployer firms (that is, businesses with no employees other than the owner(s)). The changes may also have encouraged more applications from minority-owned firms, but they do not appear to have reduced disparities in approval rates between white- and minority-owned firms.

June 29, 2022

What Is Corporate Bond Market Distress?

Photo: Ticker sign with the word Bond lit up.

Corporate bonds are a key source of funding for U.S. non-financial corporations and a key investment security for insurance companies, pension funds, and mutual funds. Distress in the corporate bond market can thus both impair access to credit for corporate borrowers and reduce investment opportunities for key financial sub-sectors. In a February 2021 Liberty Street Economics post, we introduced a unified measure of corporate bond market distress, the Corporate Bond Market Distress Index (CMDI), then followed up in early June 2022 with a look at how corporate bond market functioning evolved over 2022 in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the tightening of U.S. monetary policy. Today we are launching the CMDI as a regularly produced data series, with new readings to be published each month. In this post, we describe what constitutes corporate bond market distress, motivate the construction of the CMDI, and argue that secondary market measures alone are insufficient to capture market functioning.

June 27, 2022

The First Global Credit Crisis

Photo: Amsterdam stock exchange in 17 and 18 centuries; source Wikimedia

June 2022 marks the 250th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1772-3 credit crisis. Although not widely known today, this was arguably the first “modern” global financial crisis in terms of the role that private-sector credit and financial products played in it, in the paths of financial contagion that propagated the initial shock, and in the way authorities intervened to stabilize markets. In this post, we describe these developments and note the parallels with modern financial crises.

April 21, 2022

What Might Happen When Student Loan Forbearance Ends?

Federal student loan relief was recently extended through August 31, 2022, marking the sixth extension during the pandemic. Such debt relief includes the suspension of student loan payments, a waiver of interest, and the stopping of collections activity on defaulted loans. The suspension of student loan payments was expected to help 41 million borrowers save an estimated $5 billion per month. This post is the first in a two-part series exploring the implications and distributional consequences of policies that aim to address the student debt burden. Here, we focus on the uneven consequences of student debt relief and its withdrawal. With the end-date of the student loan relief drawing near, a key question is whether and how the discontinuation of student debt relief might affect households. Moreover, will these effects vary by demographics?

February 16, 2022

The Making of Fallen Angels—and What QE and Credit Rating Agencies Have to Do with It

Riskier firms typically borrow at higher rates than safer firms because investors require compensation for taking on more risk. However, since 2009 this relationship has been turned on its head in the massive BBB corporate bond market, with risky BBB-rated firms borrowing at lower rates than their safer BBB-rated peers. The resulting risk materialized in an unprecedented wave of “fallen angels” (or firms downgraded below the BBB investment-grade threshold) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this post, based on a related Staff Report, we claim that this anomaly has been driven by a combination of factors: a boost in investor demand for investment-grade bonds associated with the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) and sluggish adjustment of credit ratings for risky BBB issuers.

January 11, 2022

How the Fed’s Overnight Reverse Repo Facility Works

Daily take-up at the overnight reverse repo (ON RRP) facility increased from less than $1 billion in early March 2021 to just under $2 trillion on December 31, 2021. In the second post in this series, we take a closer look at this important tool in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy implementation framework and discuss the factors behind the recent increase in volume.

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