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Social distancing—avoiding nonessential movement and largely staying at home—is seen as key to limiting the spread of COVID-19. To promote social distancing, over forty states imposed shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, closing nonessential businesses, banning large gatherings, and encouraging citizens to stay home. Over the course of the last month, virtually all of these states have reopened. However, these reopenings were preceded by a spontaneous increase in mobility and decline in social distancing. Did the reopenings decrease social distancing, or did it ratify ex post what was already going to take place? In this post, we will investigate this question using an event study methodology and demonstrate that reopenings probably have caused a large decline in social distancing, even after accounting for the trends already in place at the time of reopening.
Nicola Cetorelli, Gabriele La Spada, and João Santos
The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant pressure on debt markets, especially those populated by riskier borrowers. The leveraged loan market, in particular, came under remarkable stress during the month of March. Bank-loan mutual funds, among the main holders of leveraged loans, suffered massive outflows that were reminiscent of the outflows they experienced during the 2008 crisis. In this post, we show that the flow sensitivity of the loan-fund industry to the COVID-19 crisis (and to negative shocks more generally) seems to be even greater than that of high-yield bond funds, which also invest in high-risk debt securities and have received much attention because of their possible exposure to run-like behavior by investors and their implications for financial stability.
Nicola Cetorelli, Linda S. Goldberg, and Fabiola Ravazzolo
The onset of the COVID-19 shock in March 2020 brought large changes to the balance sheets of the U.S. branches of foreign banking organizations (FBOs). Most of these branches saw sizable usage of committed credit lines by U.S.-based clients, resulting in increased funding needs. In this post, we show that branches of FBOs from countries whose central banks used standing swap lines with the Federal Reserve (“standing swap central banks”—SSCBs) met their increased funding needs by accessing dollars that flowed into the United States through their foreign parent banks. This volume of dollar inflows accounted for at least half of the late March aggregate take-up at SSCB dollar operations.
Nicola Cetorelli, Linda S. Goldberg, and Fabiola Ravazzolo
In March 2020, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) made changes to its swap line facilities with foreign central banks to enhance the provision of dollars to global funding markets. Because the dollar has important roles in international trade and financial markets, reducing these strains helps facilitate the supply of credit to households and businesses, both domestically and abroad. This post summarizes the changes made to central bank swap lines and shows when these changes were effective at bringing down dollar funding strains abroad.
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.
On April 9, 2020, the Federal Reserve announced that it would take additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Among the measures taken was the establishment of a new facility intended to facilitate lending to small businesses via the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Under the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF), Federal Reserve Banks are authorized to supply liquidity to financial institutions participating in the PPP in the form of term financing on a non-recourse basis while taking PPP loans as collateral. The facility was launched April 16, 2020. As of May 7, it had issued over $29 billion in loans (see the H.4.1 Statistical Release). This post lays out the background for the PPPLF and discusses its intended effects.
Ozge Akinci, Gianluca Benigno, and Albert Queralto
The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered unusually fast outﬂows of dollar funding from emerging market economies (EMEs). These outflows are known as “sudden stop” episodes, and they are typically followed by economic contractions. In this post, we assess the macroeconomic eﬀects of the COVID-induced sudden stop of capital flows to EMEs, using our open-economy DSGE model. Unlike existing frameworks, such as the Federal Reserve Board’s SIGMA model, our model features both domestic and international ﬁnancial constraints, making it well-suited to capture the eﬀects of an outﬂow of dollar funding. The model predicts output losses in EMEs due in part to the adverse eﬀect of local currency depreciation on private-sector balance sheets with dollar debts. The ﬁnancial stresses in EMEs, in turn, spill back to the U.S. economy, through both trade and ﬁnancial channels. The model-predicted output losses are persistent (consistent with previous sudden stop episodes), with financial effects being a significant drag on the recovery. We stress that we are only tracing out the effects of one particular channel (the stop of capital flows and its associated effect on funding costs) and not the totality of COVID-related effects.
Editor’s note: A sentence in this post has been corrected to state that Heinsberg, Germany, borders the Netherlands (rather than France, as originally stated). (May 11, 2020, 12:30 p.m.)
As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, there is an intense search for treatments and vaccines, with numeroustrials running in multiple countries. Several observers and prominent news outlets have noticed that countries still administering an old vaccine against tuberculosis—the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine—have had fewer coronavirus cases and fewer deaths per capita in the early stages of the outbreak. But is that correlation really strong evidence that the BCG vaccine provides some defense against COVID-19? In this post, we look at the incidence of coronavirus cases along the former border between East and West Germany, using econometric techniques to investigate whether historical differences in vaccination policies account for the lower level of infection in the former East.
Michael Fleming, Asani Sarkar, and Peter Van Tassel
The Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented actions to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. households and businesses. These measures include cutting the Fed’s policy rate to the zero lower bound, purchasing Treasury and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to promote market functioning, and establishing several liquidity and credit facilities. In this post, we briefly review the developments motivating these actions, summarize what the Fed has done and why, and compare the Fed’s response with its response to the 2007-09 financial crisis.
Uyanga Byambaa, Beverly Hirtle, Anna Kovner, and Matthew Plosser
Supervision and regulation are critical tools for the promotion of stability and soundness in the financial sector. In a prior post, we discussed findings from our recent research paper which examines the impact of supervision on bank performance (see earlier post How Does Supervision Affect Banks?). As described in that post, we exploit new supervisory data and develop a novel strategy to estimate the impact of supervision on bank risk taking, earnings, and growth. We find that bank holding companies (BHCs or “banks”) that receive more supervisory attention have less risky loan portfolios, but do not have lower growth or profitability. In this post, we examine the benefits of supervision over time, and especially during banking industry downturns.
The COVID-19 outbreak has sparked urgent questions about the impact of pandemics, and associated countermeasures, on the real economy. Policymakers are in uncharted territory, with little guidance on what the expected economic fallout will be and how the crisis should be managed. In this blog post, we use insights from a recent research paper to discuss two sets of questions. First, what are the real economic effects of a pandemic—and are these effects temporary or persistent? Second, how does the local public health response affect the economic severity of the pandemic? In particular, do non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as social distancing have economic costs, or do policies that slow the spread of the pandemic also reduce its economic severity?
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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