Assessing the quality of “Furfine-based” algorithms
To conduct academic research on the federal funds (fed funds) market, historically one of the most important financial markets in the U.S., some empirical economists have used market level measures published by the Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). To obtain more disaggregate data, some researchers have relied on a separate source of information: individual transactions inferred indirectly from an algorithm based on the work of Furfine (1999). To date, however, the accuracy of this algorithm has not been formally established. In this paper, we conduct a test aimed at assessing the ability of the algorithm to identify correctly individual overnight fed funds transactions conducted by two banks, which are among the most active in the fed funds market. The results are discouraging. We estimate the average type I and type II errors from 2007 to 2011 to be 81% and 23%, respectively. Furthermore, we argue that these errors i) apply to almost half of the algorithm's output, ii) introduce systematic biases, and iii) may not subside when the algorithm's output is aggregated. Our results therefore raise serious concerns about the appropriateness of using the algorithm's output to study the fed funds market. Because the FRBNY Markets Group relies on a different source of data than the algorithm output, our results have no bearing on their understanding of the fed funds market and their calculation of market level measures, including the effective fed funds rate.
AUTHORS: Armantier, Olivier; Copeland, Adam
The price is right: updating of inflation expectations in a randomized price information experiment
Understanding the formation of consumer inflation expectations is considered crucial for managing monetary policy. This paper investigates how consumers form and update their inflation expectations using a unique ?information? experiment embedded in a survey. We first elicit respondents? expectations for future inflation either in their own consumption basket or for the economy overall. We then randomly provide a subset of respondents with inflation-relevant information: either past-year food price inflation, or a median professional forecast of next-year overall inflation. Finally, inflation expectations are re-elicited from all respondents. This design creates unique panel data that allow us to identify the effects of new information on respondents? inflation expectations. We find that respondents revise their inflation expectations in response to information, and do so meaningfully: revisions are proportional to the strength of the information signal, and inversely proportional to the precision of prior inflation expectations. We also find systematic differences in updating across demographic groups and by question wording, underscoring how different types of information may be more or less relevant for different groups, and how the observed impact of information may depend on methods used to elicit inflation expectations.
AUTHORS: Topa, Giorgio; Armantier, Olivier; Zafar, Basit; Van der Klaauw, Wilbert; Nelson, Scott
Auctions implemented by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the Great Recession
During the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve implemented several novel programs to address adverse conditions in financial markets. Three of these temporary programs relied on an auction mechanism: the Term Auction Facility, the Term Securities Lending Facility, and the disposition of the Maiden Lane II portfolio. These auctions differed from one another in several dimensions: their objectives, rules, and the financial asset being traded. The object of this paper is to document, compare, and provide a rationale for the mechanics of the different auctions implemented by the Federal Reserve during the Great Recession.
AUTHORS: Sporn, John; Armantier, Olivier
An overview of the Survey of Consumer Expectations
This report presents an overview of the Survey of Consumer Expectations, a new monthly online survey of a rotating panel of household heads. The survey collects timely information on consumers? expectations and decisions on a broad variety of topics, including but not limited to inflation, household finance, the labor market, and the housing market. There are three main goals of the survey: (1) measuring consumer expectations at a high frequency, (2) understanding how these expectations are formed, and (3) investigating the link between expectations and behavior. This report discusses the origins of the survey, the questionnaire design, the implementation of the survey and the sample, and computation of various statistics that are released every month. We conclude with a discussion of how the results are disseminated, and how the (micro) data may be accessed.
AUTHORS: Zafar, Basit; Topa, Giorgio; Van der Klaauw, Wilbert; Armantier, Olivier
Inflation expectations and behavior: Do survey respondents act on their beliefs?
We compare the inflation expectations reported by consumers in a survey with their behavior in a financially incentivized investment experiment designed such that future inflation affects payoffs. The inflation expectations survey is found to be informative in the sense that the beliefs reported by the respondents are correlated with their choices in the experiment. Furthermore, most respondents appear to act on their inflation expectations showing patterns consistent (both in direction and magnitude) with expected utility theory. Respondents whose behavior cannot be rationalized tend to be less educated and to score lower on a numeracy and financial literacy scale. These findings are therefore the first to provide support to the microfoundations of modern macroeconomic models.
AUTHORS: Wändi Bruine de Bruin; Armantier, Olivier; Topa, Giorgio; Van der Klaauw, Wilbert; Zafar, Basit
Discount window stigma during the 2007-2008 financial crisis
We provide empirical evidence for the existence, magnitude, and economic cost of stigma associated with banks borrowing from the Federal Reserve?s Discount Window (DW) during the 2007-08 financial crisis. We find that banks were willing to pay a premium of around 44 basis points across funding sources (126 basis points after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers) to avoid borrowing from the DW. DW stigma is economically relevant as it increased some banks? borrowing cost by 32 basis points of their pre-tax return on assets (ROA) during the crisis. The implications of our results for the provision of liquidity by central banks are discussed.
AUTHORS: Armantier, Olivier; Shrader, Jeffrey; Sarkar, Asani; Ghysels, Eric
The effect of question wording on reported expectations and perceptions of inflation
Public expectations and perceptions of inflation may affect economic decisions, and have subsequent effects on actual inflation. The Michigan Survey of Consumers uses questions about "prices in general" to measure expected and perceived inflation. Median responses track official measure of inflation, showing some tendency toward overestimation and considerable disagreement between respondents. Possibly, responses reflect how much respondents thought of salient personal experiences with specific prices when being asked about "prices in general." Here, we randomly assigned respondents to questions about "prices in general," as well as "the rate of inflation" and "price you pay." Reported expectations and perceptions were higher and more dispersed for "prices in general" than for "the rate of inflation," with "prices you pay" and "prices in general" showing similar responses patterns. Compared to questions about "the rate of inflation," questions about "prices in general" and "prices you pay" focused respondents relatively more on personal price experiences--and elicited expectations that were more strongly correlate to the expected price increases for food and transportation, which were relatively large and likely salient, but not to the expected price increases for housing, which were relatively small and likely less salient. Our results have implications for survey measures of inflation expectations.
AUTHORS: Topa, Giorgio; Van der Klaauw, Wilbert; Downs, Julie S.; Armantier, Olivier; Fischhoff, Baruch; Bruin, Wändi Bruine de
The Federal Reserve's Term Auction Facility
As liquidity conditions in the term funding markets grew increasingly strained in late 2007, the Federal Reserve began making funds available directly to banks through a new tool, the Term Auction Facility (TAF). The TAF provides term funding on a collateralized basis, at interest rates and amounts set by auction. The facility is designed to improve liquidity by making it easier for sound institutions to borrow when the markets are not operating efficiently.
AUTHORS: Krieger, Sandra C.; McAndrews, James J.; Armantier, Olivier
An overview of the Survey of Consumer Expectations
The authors present an overview of the New York Fed?s Survey of Consumer Expectations, a monthly online survey of a rotating panel of household heads. The survey collects timely information on respondents? expectations and decisions on a broad variety of topics, including inflation, household finance, the labor market, and the housing market. It has three main goals: (1) measuring consumer expectations at a high frequency, (2) understanding how these expectations are formed, and (3) investigating the link between expectations and behavior. The authors discuss the origins of the survey, the questionnaire design, the implementation of the survey and the sample, and the computation of the various statistics released every month. They conclude with a discussion of how the results are disseminated and how the (micro) data may be accessed on the New York?s Fed?s Center for Microeconomic Data.
AUTHORS: Zafar, Basit; Van der Klaauw, Wilbert; Armantier, Olivier; Topa, Giorgio
Changes in the timing distribution of Fedwire funds transfers
The Federal Reserve's Fedwire funds transfer service - the biggest large-value payments system in the United States - has long displayed a peak of activity in the late afternoon. Theory suggests that the concentration of late-afternoon Fedwire activity reflects coordination among participating banks to reduce liquidity costs, delay costs, and credit risk; as these costs and risk change over time, payment timing most likely will be affected. This article seeks to quantify how the changing environment in which Fedwire operates has affected the timing of payment value transferred within the system between 1998 and 2006. It finds that the peak of the timing distribution has become more concentrated, has shifted to later in the day, and has actually divided into two peaks. The authors suggest that these trends can be explained by a rise in the value of payments transferred over Fedwire, the settlement patterns of the private settlement institutions that use the system, and an increase in industry concentration. Although the study's results provide no specific evidence of heightened operational risk attributable to activity occurring later in the day, they point to a high level of interaction between Fedwire and private settlement institutions.
AUTHORS: Armantier, Olivier; McAndrews, James J.; Arnold, Jeffrey