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People across the world have cut back sharply on travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home and cancelling vacations and other nonessential travel. Industrial activity is also off sharply. These forces are translating into an unprecedented collapse in global oil demand. The nature of the decline means that demand is unlikely to respond to the steep drop in oil prices, so supply will have to fall in tandem. The rapid increase in U.S. oil production of recent years was already looking difficult to sustain before the pandemic, as evidenced by the limited profitability of the sector. Now, U.S. producers may have to bear the brunt of the global supply adjustment needed over the near term.
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.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the Federal Reserve to pledge to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amount needed to support the smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to the economy. But some market participants have questioned whether something more might not be required, including possibly some form of direct yield curve control. In the first half of the 1940s the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sought to manage the level and shape of the Treasury yield curve. In this post, we examine what can be learned from the FOMC’s efforts of seventy-five years ago.
During moments of heightened economic uncertainty, authorities often need to decide on how much information to disclose. For example, during crisis periods, we often observe regulators limiting access to bank‑level information with the goal of restoring the public's confidence in banks. Thus, information management often plays a central role in ending financial crises. Despite the perceived importance of managing information about individual banks during a financial crisis, we are not aware of any empirical work that quantifies the effect of such policies. In this blog post, we highlight results from our recent working paper, demonstrating that in a crisis, a policy of suppressing information about banks' balance sheets has a significant and positive effect on deposits.
James Conklin, W. Scott Frame, Kristopher Gerardi, and Haoyang Liu
Editor’s note: When this post was first published, the chart labels for “Non-Boom Counties” were incorrect; the labels have been corrected. (February 26, 12:00 pm)
The role of subprime mortgage lending in the U.S. housing boom of the 2000s is hotly debated in academic literature. One prevailing
narrative ascribes the unprecedented home price growth during the mid-2000s to an expansion in mortgage lending to subprime borrowers. This post, based on our recent working paper, “Villains or Scapegoats? The Role of Subprime Borrowers in Driving the U.S. Housing Boom,” presents evidence that is inconsistent with conventional wisdom. In particular, we show that the housing boom and the subprime boom occurred in different places.
Michael Fleming, Giang Nguyen, and Francisco Ruela
The popularity of U.S. Treasury securities as a means of pricing other securities, managing interest rate risk, and storing value is, in part, due to the efficiency and liquidity of the U.S. Treasury market. Any structural changes that might affect these attributes of the market are therefore of interest to market participants and policymakers alike. In this post, we consider how a 2018 change in the minimum price increment, or tick size, for the 2-year U.S. Treasury note affected market quality, following our recently updated New York Fed staff report.
How should we measure market expectations of the U.S. government failing to meet its debt obligations and thereby defaulting? A natural candidate would be to use the spreads on U.S. sovereign single-name credit default swaps (CDS): since a CDS provides insurance to the buyer for the possibility of default, an increase in the CDS spread would indicate an increase in the market-perceived probability of a credit event occurring. In this post, we argue that aggregate measures of activity in U.S. sovereign CDS mask a decrease in risk-forming transactions after 2014. That is, quoted CDS spreads in this market are based on few, if any, market transactions and thus may be a misleading indicator of market expectations.
Michael J. Fleming, Peter Johansson, Frank M. Keane, and Justin Meyer
The New York Fed recently hosted the fifth annual Conference on the U.S. Treasury Market. The one-day event was co-sponsored with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This year’s agenda featured a series of keynote addresses and expert panels focused on a variety of topics, including issues related to the LIBOR transition, data transparency and reporting requirements, and market structure and risk.
Fedwire Funds, a key payment system in the United States, is used by banks to wire money to one another throughout the day. Historically, the total value of payments sent over Fedwire has been roughly proportional to economic activity. Since the financial crisis, however, we have instead observed a strong co-movement between total payments and the level of aggregate reserves. This co-movement suggests that a fraction of every dollar of reserves created recirculates on a daily basis. In this post, we investigate why total payments, a flow variable driven by real and financial activity, would co-move with total reserves, a stock variable controlled by the Federal Reserve.
Michael J. Fleming, Peter Johansson, Frank M. Keane, and Justin Meyer
Five years ago today, U.S. Treasury yields plunged and then quickly rebounded for no apparent reason amid high volatility, strained liquidity conditions, and record trading volume in the market. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, then a Board governor, noted that such episodes, “threaten to erode investor confidence” and that investors need “to have full faith in the structure and functioning of Treasury markets themselves.” The October 15, 2014, “flash rally” led to an interagency staff report on the events of that day, an annual series of Treasury market conferences, additional study of clearing and settlement practices, and the introduction of a new transactions reporting scheme. Many of these developments are discussed in posts (see, for example, here and here) in the Liberty Street Economics archive.
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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