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.
Hunter L. Clark, Jeffrey B. Dawson, and Maxim Pinkovskiy
China’s economy was the first to be hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, the first to be locked down, and the first to begin an economic recovery. We examine the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on China’s GDP growth using a set of alternative growth indicators. Our analysis finds that China’s official GDP growth figures over the first three quarters of this year have been broadly in line with alternative indicators and that growth presently is staging a strong rebound and providing a boost to the global economy. However, this rebound faces potential headwinds in the forms of high levels of debt, declining return to capital accumulation, and a shrinking working-age population in China.
On September 29, 2020, the New York Fed hosted the sixth annual Conference on the U.S. Treasury Market. The one-day event, held virtually this year, was co-sponsored by 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). The agenda featured a number of panels and speeches on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Treasury market in March 2020, the ensuing policy response, and ways that market resiliency could be improved in light of the vulnerabilities revealed. Two speeches also touched on the ongoing transition from LIBOR to alternative reference rates.
Olivier Armantier, Leo Goldman, Gizem Koşar, Jessica Lu, Rachel Pomerantz, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
In this post we analyze consumer beliefs about the duration of the economic impact of the pandemic and present new evidence on their expected spending, income, debt delinquency, and employment outcomes, conditional on different scenarios for the future path of the pandemic. We find that between June and August respondents to the New York Fed Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) have grown less optimistic about the pandemic’s economic consequences ending in the near future and also about the likelihood of feeling comfortable in crowded places within the next three months. Although labor market expectations of respondents differ considerably across fairly extreme scenarios for the evolution of the COVID pandemic, the difference in other economic outcomes across scenarios appear relatively moderate on average. There is, however, substantial heterogeneity in these economic outcomes and some vulnerable groups (for example, lower income, non-white) appear considerably more exposed to the evolution of the pandemic.
China’s export performance this year has been stronger than expected. After a sharp slump at the beginning of 2020, the country’s exports have posted positive growth—the only major economy’s to do so. However, a closer look at the data reveals that this growth has not been very broad-based, but rather concentrated in areas where China’s export structure was well-positioned to take advantage of the global crisis—namely, production of medical supplies and school-from-home and work-from-home (S/WFH) goods. Once the COVID-19 crisis passes, China’s exports will likely return to their pre-coronavirus growth path, including a gradual loss of market share to other countries.
Olivier Armantier, Leo Goldman, Gizem Koşar, Jessica Lu, Rachel Pomerantz, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
In this post, we examine how households used economic impact payments, a large component of the CARES Act signed into law on March 27 that directed stimulus payments to many Americans to help offset the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. An important question in evaluating how much this part of the CARES Act stimulated the economy concerns what share of these payments households used for consumption—what economists call the marginal propensity to consume (MPC). There also is interest in learning the extent to which the payments contributed to the sharp increase in the U.S. personal saving rate during the early months of the pandemic. We find in this analysis that as of the end of June 2020, a relatively small share of stimulus payments—29 percent—was used for consumption, with 36 percent saved and 35 percent used to pay down debt. Reported expected uses for a potential second stimulus payment suggest an even smaller MPC, with households expecting to use more of the funds to pay down their debts. We find similarly small estimated average consumption out of unemployment insurance (UI) payments, but with somewhat larger shares of these funds used to pay down debt.
More than six months into the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of new cases in the United States remains at an elevated level. One potential reason is a lack of preventative efforts either because people believe that the pandemic will be short-lived or because they underestimate their own chance of infection despite it being a public risk. To understand these possibilities, we elicit people’s perceptions of COVID-19 as a public health concern and a personal concern over the next three months to the following three years within the May administration of the Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE). This post reports results from these survey questions.
Madeline Finnegan, Sarah Ngo Hamerling, Beverly Hirtle, Anna Kovner, Stephan Luck, and Matthew Plosser
Editor’s note: Since this post was first published, we have corrected a description accompanying the Variable Capital Buffer graphic — Currently, with a countercyclical capital buffer set to 0, the combined minimum and buffer CET1 requirements range from 7 percent to 10.5 percent. (October 6:10 p.m.)
By many measures the U.S. banking industry entered 2020 in good health. But the widespread outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and the associated economic disruptions have caused unemployment to skyrocket and many businesses to suspend or significantly reduce operations. In this post, we consider the implications of the pandemic for the stability of the banking sector, including the potential impact of dividend suspensions on bank capital ratios and the use of banks’ regulatory capital buffers.
American companies have raised almost $1 trillion in the U.S. corporate bond market since March. If companies had been unable to refinance those bonds, their inability to repay may have led to an immediate default on all of their obligations, creating a cascade of defaults and layoffs. Based on Compustat data, an inability to access public bond markets could have affected companies employing more than 16 million people. In this post, we document the impact of the Primary Market and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities (PMCCF and SMCCF) on bond market functioning, summarizing a detailed evaluation described in a new working paper. We also describe the impact that a collapse of corporate bond markets could have had on employment and investment.
Today, the majority of retail payments in the United States are digital. Practically all digital payments are tracked, collected, and aggregated by financial institutions, payment providers, and vendors. This trend has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as payments that require physical contact, such as cash, have been discouraged. As cash gradually becomes obsolete, consumers are left with fewer alternatives for making private transactions. In this post, we outline some evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer payment behavior and follow up in the second post in this Liberty Street Economics series with a look at the implications of cash obsolescence for privacy.
Rajashri Chakrabarti, Maxim Pinkovskiy, Will Nober, and Lindsay Meyerson
Does health insurance improve health? This question, while apparently a tautology, has been the subject of considerable economic debate. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has acquired a greater urgency as the lack of universal health insurance has been cited as a cause of the profound racial gap in coronavirus cases, and as a cause of U.S. difficulties in managing the pandemic more generally. However, estimating the effect of health insurance is difficult because it is (generally) not assigned at random. In this post, we approach this question in a novel way by exploiting a natural experiment—the adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion by some states but not others—to tease out the causal effect of a type of health insurance on COVID-19 intensity.
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