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Author:Mertens, Karel 

Commuting Patterns During COVID-19 Endure; Minorities Less Likely to Work from Home

Some workers transitioned to working from home relatively easily. In many jobs, however, performing regular work activities from home is impossible, forcing many individuals to become inactive or look for a new job.
Dallas Fed Economics

Dallas Fed Mobility and Engagement Index Gives Insight into COVID-19’s Economic Impact

To gain insight into the economic impact of the pandemic, we developed an index of mobility and engagement, based on geolocation data collected from a large sample of mobile devices.
Dallas Fed Economics

Working Paper
Mobility and Engagement Following the SARS-Cov-2 Outbreak

We develop a Mobility and Engagement Index (MEI) based on a range of mobility metrics from Safegraph geolocation data, and validate the index with mobility data from Google and Unacast. We construct MEIs at the county, MSA, state and nationwide level, and link these measures to indicators of economic activity. According to our measures, the bulk of sheltering-in-place and social disengagement occurred during the week of March 15 and simultaneously across the U.S. At the national peak of the decline in mobility in early April, localities that engaged in a 10% larger decrease in mobility than ...
Working Papers , Paper 2014

Working Paper
The Dynamic Effects of Personal and Corporate Income Tax Changes in the United States: Reply to Jentsch and Lunsford

In this reply to a comment by Jentsch and Lunsford, we show that, when focusing on the relevant impulse responses, the evidence for economic and statistically significant macroeconomic effects of tax changes in Mertens and Ravn (2013) remains present for a range of asymptotically valid inference methods.
Working Papers , Paper 1805

Working Paper
Do Monetary Policy Announcements Shift Household Expectations?

We use a decade of daily survey data from Gallup to study how monetary policy influences households' beliefs about economic conditions. We first document that public confidence in the state of the economy reacts instantaneously to certain types of macroeconomic news. Next, we show that surprises to the Federal Funds target rate are among the news that have statistically significant and instantaneous effects on economic confidence. Specifically, we find that a surprise increase in the target rate robustly leads to an immediate decline in household confidence, at odds with previous findings ...
Working Papers , Paper 1906

Working Paper
Measuring Real Activity Using a Weekly Economic Index

This paper describes a weekly economic index (WEI) developed to track the rapid economic developments associated with the onset of and policy response to the novel coronavirus in the United States. The WEI is a weekly composite index of real economic activity, with eight of 10 series available the Thursday after the end of the reference week. In addition to being a weekly real activity index, the WEI has strong predictive power for output measures and provided an accurate nowcast of current-quarter GDP growth in the first half of 2020, with weaker performance in the second half. We document ...
Working Papers , Paper 2011

Discussion Paper
Tracking the COVID-19 Economy with the Weekly Economic Index (WEI)

At the end of March, we launched the Weekly Economic Index (WEI) as a tool to monitor changes in real activity during the pandemic. The rapid deterioration in economic conditions made it important to assess developments as soon as possible, rather than waiting for monthly and quarterly data to be released. In this post, we describe how the WEI has measured the effects of COVID-19. So far in 2020, the WEI has synthesized daily and weekly data to measure GDP growth remarkably well. We document this performance, and we offer some guidance on evaluating the WEI’s forecasting abilities based on ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200804

Working Paper
Do Monetary Policy Announcements Shift Household Expectations?

We use daily survey data from Gallup to assess whether households' beliefs about economic conditions are influenced by surprises in monetary policy announcements. We first provide more general evidence that public confidence in the state of the economy reacts to certain types of macroeconomic news very quickly. Next, we show that surprises to the Federal Funds target rate are among the news that have statistically significant and instantaneous effects on economic confidence. In contrast, surprises about forward guidance and asset purchases do not have similar effects on household beliefs, ...
Working Papers , Paper 1906

Discussion Paper
Monitoring Real Activity in Real Time: The Weekly Economic Index

Economists are well-practiced at assessing real activity based on familiar aggregate time series, like the unemployment rate, industrial production, or GDP growth. However, these series represent monthly or quarterly averages of economic conditions, and are only available at a considerable lag, after the month or quarter ends. When the economy hits sudden headwinds, like the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions can evolve rapidly. How can we monitor the high-frequency evolution of the economy in “real time”?
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200330b

Real-Time Population Survey Suggests U.S. Job Losses Slowed in Early May

Survey results for the week of May 10 suggest further declines in employment and an increase in unemployment relative to the week of April 26 – May 2, though both changes are within the survey’s margin of error.
Dallas Fed Economics

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