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Author:Mertens, Karel 

Report
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 ...
Staff Reports , Paper 897

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

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

Working Paper
Work from Home Before and After the COVID-19 Outbreak

Based on novel survey data, we document the evolution of commuting behavior in the U.S. over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Work from home (WFH) increased sharply and persistently after the outbreak, and much more so among some workers than others. Using theory and evidence, we argue that the observed heterogeneity in WFH transitions is consistent with potentially more permanent changes to work arrangements in some occupations, and not just temporary substitution in response to greater health risks. Consistent with increased WFH adoption, many more – especially higher-educated – ...
Working Papers , Paper 2017

Working Paper
Distributional Considerations for Monetary Policy Strategy

We show that makeup strategies, such as average inflation targeting and price-level targeting, can be more effective than a flexible inflation targeting strategy in overcoming the obstacles created by the effective lower bound in a heterogeneous agent New Keynesian (HANK) model. We also show that the macroeconomic stabilization benefits from such alternative strategies can be substantially larger in a HANK environment than in a representative agent New Keynesian model. We argue that gains in employment outcomes from switching to an alternative strategy would generate disproportionate ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-073

Report
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 ten 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. We document how the WEI responded to key events and data ...
Staff Reports , Paper 920

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
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

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

The Labor Market May Be Tighter than the Level of Employment Suggests

Nonfarm payroll employment disappointed in April, increasing just 266,000, well below consensus expectations of nearly 1 million new jobs. With payroll employment remaining well below its prior peak, slow job growth would typically suggest weak demand for labor from firms and limited employment opportunities for job seekers. Current conditions in the labor market, however, may be far from typical.
Dallas Fed Economics

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