Mortgage Rates Decline and (Prime) Households Take Advantage
Today, the New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data reported that household debt balances increased by $206 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, marking a $414 billion increase since the end of 2019. But the COVID pandemic and ensuing recession have marked an end to the dynamics in household borrowing that have characterized the expansion since the Great Recession, which included robust growth in auto and student loans, while mortgage and credit card balances grew more slowly. As the pandemic took hold, these dynamics were altered. One shift in 2020 was a larger bump up in mortgage balances. Mortgage balances grew by $182 billion, the biggest uptick since 2006, boosted by historically high volumes of originations. Here, we take a close look at the composition of mortgage originations, which neared $1.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2020, the highest single-quarter volume seen since our series begins in 2000. The Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit and this analysis are based on the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, which is itself based on anonymized Equifax credit data.
The Costs of Corporate Debt Overhang Following the COVID-19 Outbreak
Leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, there were growing concerns about corporate sector indebtedness. High levels of borrowing may give rise to a “debt overhang” problem, particularly during downturns, whereby firms forego good investment opportunities because of an inability to raise additional funding. In this post, we show that firms with high levels of borrowing at the onset of the Great Recession underperformed in the following years, compared to similar—but less indebted—firms. These findings, together with early data on the revenue contractions following the COVID-19 outbreak, suggest that debt overhang during the COVID-recession could lead to an up to 10 percent decrease in growth for firms in industries most affected by the economic repercussions of the battle against the outbreak.
The Banking Industry and COVID-19: Lifeline or Life Support?
By many measures the U.S. banking industry entered 2020 in a robust state. 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.
Forecasts of the Lost Recovery
The years following the Great Recession were challenging for forecasters for a variety of reasons, including an unprecedented policy environment. This post, based on our recently released working paper, documents the real-time forecasting performance of the New York Fed dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model in the wake of the Great Recession. We show that the model’s predictive accuracy was on par with that of private forecasters and proved to be quite a bit better, at least in terms of GDP growth, than that of the median forecasts from the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) Summary of Economic Projections (SEP).
Just Released: Great Recession’s Impact Lingers in Hardest-Hit Regions
The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data today released our Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for the fourth quarter of 2017. Along with this report, we have posted an update of state-level data on balances and delinquencies for 2017. Overall aggregate debt balances increased again, with growth in all types of balances except for home equity lines of credit. In our post on the first quarter of 2017 we reported that overall balances had surpassed their peak set in the third quarter of 2008—the result of a slow but steady climb from several years of sharp deleveraging during the Great Recession.
What about Spending on Consumer Goods?
In a recent Liberty Street Economics post, I showed that one major category of consumer spending—spending on discretionary services such as recreation, transportation, and household utilities—behaved very differently in the 2007-09 recession and subsequent recovery than in previous business cycles: specifically, it fell more steeply and has recovered much more slowly.
Discretionary Services Spending Has Finally Made It Back (to 2007)
The current economic expansion is now the third-longest expansion in U.S. history (based on National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER] dating of U.S. business cycles). Even so, average growth in this expansion—a 2.1 percent annual rate—has been extraordinarily weak.
Developing a Narrative: The Great Recession and Its Aftermath
The severe recession experienced by the U.S. economy between December 2007 and June 2009 has given way to a disappointing recovery.
Why Didn’t Inflation Collapse in the Great Recession?
GDP contracted 4 percent from 2008:Q2 to 2009:Q2, and the unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent in October 2010.
Inflation in the Great Recession and New Keynesian Models
Since the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the Great Recession, many commentators have been baffled by the “missing deflation” in the face of a large and persistent amount of slack in the economy.