What Do Financial Conditions Tell Us about Risks to GDP Growth?
The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been sharp. Real U.S. GDP growth in the first quarter of 2020 (advance estimate) was -4.8 percent at an annual rate, the worst since the global financial crisis in 2008. Most forecasters predict much weaker growth in the second quarter, ranging widely from an annual rate of -15 percent to -50 percent as the economy pauses to allow for social distancing. Although growth is expected to begin its rebound in the third quarter absent a second wave of the pandemic, the speed of the recovery is highly uncertain. In this post, we estimate the risks ...
A New Perspective on Low Interest Rates
Interest rates in the United States have remained at historically low levels for many years. This series of posts explores the forces behind the persistence of low rates. We briefly discuss some of the explanations advanced in the academic literature, and propose an alternative hypothesis that centers on the premium associated with safe and liquid assets. Our argument, outlined in a paper we presented at the Brookings Conference on Economic Activity last March, suggests that the increase in this premium since the late 1990s has been a key driver of the decline in the real return on U.S. ...
Exploiting the monthly data flow in structural forecasting
This paper develops a framework that allows us to combine the tools provided by structural models for economic interpretation and policy analysis with those of reduced-form models designed for nowcasting. We show how to map a quarterly dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model into a higher frequency (monthly) version that maintains the same economic restrictions. Moreover, we show how to augment the monthly DSGE with auxiliary data that can enhance the analysis and the predictive accuracy in now-casting and forecasting. Our empirical results show that both the monthly version of ...
A DSGE Perspective on Safety, Liquidity, and Low Interest Rates
The preceding two posts in this series documented that interest rates on safe and liquid assets, such as U.S. Treasury securities, have declined significantly in the past twenty years. Of course, short-term interest rates in the United States are under the control of the Federal Reserve, at least in nominal terms. So it is legitimate to ask, To what extent is this decline driven by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy? This post addresses this question by coupling the results presented in the previous post with those obtained from an estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium ...
Bank Capital and Real GDP Growth
We find evidence that bank capital matters for the distribution of future GDP growth but not its central tendency. Growth in the aggregate bank capital ratio compresses the tails of expected GDP growth, a relationship that is particularly robust in reducing the probability of the worst GDP outcomes. These results suggest a role for regulation to mitigate financial crises, with an additional 100 basis points of bank capital reducing the probability of negative GDP growth by 10 percent at the one-year horizon, even controlling for credit growth and financial conditions, and without a ...
Economic predictions with big data: the illusion of sparsity
We compare sparse and dense representations of predictive models in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and finance. To deal with a large number of possible predictors, we specify a prior that allows for both variable selection and shrinkage. The posterior distribution does not typically concentrate on a single sparse or dense model, but on a wide set of models. A clearer pattern of sparsity can only emerge when models of very low dimension are strongly favored a priori.
Global trends in interest rates
The trend in the world real interest rate for safe and liquid assets fluctuated close to 2 percent for more than a century, but has dropped significantly over the past three decades. This decline has been common among advanced economies, as trends in real interest rates across countries have converged over this period. It was driven by an increase in the convenience yield for safety and liquidity and by lower global economic growth.
Unspanned macroeconomic factors in the yield curve
In this paper, we extract common factors from a cross-section of U.S. macro-variables and Treasury zero-coupon yields. We find that two macroeconomic factors have an important predictive content for government bond yields and excess returns. These factors are not spanned by the cross-section of yields and are well proxied by economic growth and real interest rates.
800,000 Years of Climate Risk
We use a long history of global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration to estimate the conditional joint evolution of temperature and CO2 at a millennial frequency. We document three basic facts. First, the temperature–CO2 dynamics are non-linear, so that large deviations in either temperature or CO2 concentrations take a long time to correct–on the scale of multiple millennia. Second, the joint dynamics of temperature and CO2 concentrations exhibit multimodality around historical turning points in temperature and concentration cycles, so that prior to the start of ...
A Large Bayesian VAR of the United States Economy
We model the United States macroeconomic and financial sectors using a formal and unified econometric model. Through shrinkage, our Bayesian VAR provides a flexible framework for modeling the dynamics of thirty-one variables, many of which are tracked by the Federal Reserve. We show how the model can be used for understanding key features of the data, constructing counterfactual scenarios, and evaluating the macroeconomic environment both retrospectively and prospectively. Considering its breadth and versatility for policy applications, our modeling approach gives a reliable, reduced form ...