Tempestuous municipal debt markets: Oxymoron or new reality?
Municipal bonds (munis) are issued by states, cities, or other local government agencies. They may be general obligations of the issuer or secured by specified revenues, like fees paid by tollway users. The interest on municipal bonds is usually exempt from federal income taxes. Investors have long regarded these bonds as a relatively safe investment. Not coincidentally, holdings of municipal securities (or munis) have been heavily concentrated among household investors, who own about two-thirds of the $2.9 trillion market.
The role of securitization in mortgage renegotiation
We study the effects of securitization on renegotiation of distressed residential mortgages over the current financial crisis. Unlike prior studies, we employ unique data that directly observe lender renegotiation actions and cover more than 60% of the U.S. mortgage market. Exploiting within-servicer variation in these data, we find that bank-held loans are 26% to 36% more likely to be renegotiated than comparable securitized mortgages (4.2 to 5.7% in absolute terms). Also, modifications of bank-held loans are more efficient: conditional on a modification, bank-held loans have lower ...
How did the 2003 dividend tax cut affect stock prices and corporate payout policy?
We examine the effects of the 2003 dividend tax cut on U.S. stock prices and corporate payout policies. First, using an event-study methodology, we compare the performance of U.S. stocks to that of other securities that should not have benefited from the tax change. We find that U.S. large-cap and small-cap indexes do not outperform their European counterparts, nor REIT stocks, over the event windows, suggesting little if any aggregate stock market effect from the tax change. In cross-sectional analysis, high-dividend stocks outperformed low-dividend stocks by a few percentage points over the ...
Using payment innovations to improve transportation networks: a conference summary
On June 12, 2007, Chicago Metropolis 2020 and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago jointly hosted a conference to discuss road pricing strategies, as well as other issues related to reducing transportation congestion and improving economic efficiency in the Chicago region and around the world. On June 12, 2007, Chicago Metropolis 2020 and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago jointly hosted a conference to discuss road pricing strategies, as well as other issues related to reducing transportation congestion and improving economic efficiency in the Chicago region and around the world.
Inequality and Recessions
The increase in inequality over the past several decades has received widespread attention from both academics and the public at large. While much of this discourse centers on either the causes or normative implications of increasing inequality, it is important to ask whether the widening gap between the rich and poor has any direct effects on macroeconomic aggregates and, in particular, on the severity of the Great Recession, when output and consumption dropped precipitously and were slow to recover (see figure 1).
Helping Homeowners During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons from the Great Recession
The Covid-19 public health crisis has sharply reduced the earnings of millions of U.S. households, following the severe curtailment of economic activity needed to contain the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, households continue to confront their ongoing financial obligations. The ability of households to manage these obligations has important consequences for the speed at which the U.S. economy can recover from the current crisis. Households that are wiped out financially in the coming months will not be in a position to strongly resume spending once the virus containment issues have passed. ...
The tradeoff between mortgage prepayments and tax-deferred retirement savings
We show that a significant number of households can perform a tax arbitrage by cutting back on their additional mortgage payments and increasing their contributions to tax- deferred accounts (TDA). Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, we show that about 38% of U.S. households that are accelerating their mortgage payments instead of saving in tax-deferred accounts are making the wrong choice. For these households, reallocating their savings can yield a mean benefit of 11 to 17 cents per dollar, depending on the choice of investment assets in the TDA. ; In the aggregate, these ...
Expectations of risk and return among household investors: Are their Sharpe ratios countercyclical?
Data obtained from special questions on the Michigan Survey of Consumer Attitudes over several years are used to analyze stock market beliefs and portfolio choices of household investors. Consistent with other survey results, expected future returns appear to be extrapolated from past realized returns. The data also indicate that expected risk and return are strongly influenced by economic prospects. When investors believe macroeconomic conditions are more expansionary, they tend to expect both higher returns and lower volatility, which implies that household Sharpe ratios are procyclical. ...
Transforming payment choices by doubling fees on the Illinois Tollway
On January 1, 2005, Illinois doubled the highway toll for travelers paying with cash, but kept the price unchanged for those paying electronically. This paper combines a theoretical model of payment choice with empirical analysis based on this rare natural experiment of differential pricing depending on the method of payment: cash versus electronic payment. An actual response to a price change allows the authors to estimate the sensitivity of consumer payment demand to prices.
Consumer Credit Trends by Income and Geography in 2001–12
As economists have tried to understand the causes of the Great Recession and its consequences for households and firms, a consensus has emerged: The severity of the recession was amplified by the rapid buildup in consumer credit leading up to it and the subsequent credit retrenchment. However, the credit cycle played out unevenly among individuals of different financial means and across different parts of the U.S. Thus, one potential key to understanding the Great Recession is documenting how credit trends varied across the distribution of income and across geography, as well as across the ...