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 ...
We study how the risks to future liquidity flow across corporate bond, Treasury, and stock markets. We document distribution ?flight-to-safety? effects: a deterioration in the liquidity of high-yield corporate bonds forecasts an increase in the average liquidity of Treasury securities and a decrease in uncertainty about the liquidity of investment-grade corporate bonds. While the liquidity of Treasury securities both affects and is affected by the liquidity in the other two markets, corporate bond and equity market liquidity appear to be largely divorced from each other. Finally, we show that ...
A Time-Series Perspective on Safety, Liquidity, and Low Interest Rates
The previous post in this series discussed several possible explanations for the trend decline in U.S. real interest rates since the late 1990s. We noted that while interest rates have generally come down over the past two decades, this decline has been more pronounced for Treasury securities. The conclusion that we draw from this evidence is that the convenience associated with the safety and liquidity embedded in Treasuries is an important driver of the secular (long-term) decline in Treasury yields. In this post and the next, we provide an overview of the two complementary empirical ...
Changing risk-return profiles
We show that realized volatility, especially the realized volatility of financial sector stock returns, has strong predictive content for the future distribution of market returns. This is a robust feature of the last century of U.S. data and, most importantly, can be exploited in real time. Current realized volatility has the most information content on the uncertainty of future returns, whereas it has only limited content about the location of the future return distribution. When volatility is low, the predicted distribution of returns is less dispersed and probabilistic forecasts are ...
Back to the Present: Learning about the Euro Area through a Now-casting Model
We build a model for simultaneously now-casting economic conditions in the euro area and its three largest member countries--Germany, France, and Italy. The model formalizes how market participants and policymakers monitor the euro area by incorporating all market moving indicators in real time. We find that area wide and country-specific data provide informative signals to now-cast the economic conditions in the euro area and member countries. The model provides accurate predictions of economic conditions in real time over a period that covers the past three recessions.
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.
Traditional GDP forecasts potentially present an overly optimistic (or pessimistic) view of the state of the economy: by focusing on the point estimate for the conditional mean of growth, such forecasts ignore risks around the central forecast. Yet, policymakers around the world increasingly focus on risks to the central forecast in policy debates. For example, in the United States the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) commonly discusses the balance of risks in the economy, with the relative prominence of this discussion fluctuating with the state of the economy. In a recent paper, we ...
Forecasting Macroeconomic Risks
We construct risks around consensus forecasts of real GDP growth, unemployment, and inflation. We find that risks are time-varying, asymmetric, and partly predictable. Tight financial conditions forecast downside growth risk, upside unemployment risk, and increased uncertainty around the inflation forecast. Growth vulnerability arises as the conditional mean and conditional variance of GDP growth are negatively correlated: downside risks are driven by lower mean and higher variance when financial conditions tighten. Similarly, employment vulnerability arises as the conditional mean and ...
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 ...
Nowcasting GDP and inflation: the real-time informational content of macroeconomic data releases
This paper formalizes the process of updating the nowcast and forecast on output and inflation as new releases of data become available. The marginal contribution of a particular release for the value of the signal and its precision is evaluated by computing "news" on the basis of an evolving conditioning information set. The marginal contribution is then split into what is due to timeliness of information and what is due to economic content. We find that the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia surveys have a large marginal impact on the nowcast of both inflation variables and real ...