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Temporary Layoffs and Unemployment in the Pandemic
Temporary layoffs accounted for essentially the entire increase in unemployment to its historically high rate in April 2020. Although the rate has come down since its peak, unemployment remains well above pre-pandemic levels. There is little evidence that temporary layoffs are becoming permanent at a higher rate than in the past. However, the continuation of the health and economic crisis poses a risk that a growing share of unemployment will consist of people in persistent categories of joblessness, thereby slowing the overall recovery.
The Fog of Numbers
In times of economic turbulence, revisions to GDP data can be sizable, which makes conducting economic policy in real time during a crisis more difficult. A simple model based on Okun’s law can help refine the advance data release of real GDP growth to provide an improved reading of economic activity in real time. Applying this to data from the Great Recession explains some of the massive GDP revisions at that time. This could provide a guide for possible revisions to GDP releases during the current coronavirus crisis.
Disagreement about U.S. and Euro-Area Inflation Forecasts
Disagreement among economic forecasters about the outlook for inflation in both the United States and the euro area has increased since the onset of the pandemic. The nature of these forecast differences can provide insights into the inflation risks that lie ahead. Many forecasters initially expected substantially lower inflation over the next year but subsequently raised their expectations as economic activity began to improve. In contrast, changes in expectations and disagreement about longer-term inflation have been relatively subdued and suggest a balanced likelihood between higher and ...
Do Households Expect Inflation When Commodities Surge?
Household surveys indicate that consumers expect higher inflation this year than in recent years, as the U.S. economy rebounds from the deep recession. This has coincided with a surge in commodity prices, as strong demand for goods like gas, food, and construction materials is catching producers with low supplies. Evidence suggests that households respond to commodity price increases by raising their expectations of future inflation. However, since surges in commodity prices are transitory, their effects on inflation expectations—particularly long-term expectations—are modest and ...