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Author:Mertens, Thomas M. 

Journal Article
China's Exchange Rate Policies and U.S. Financial Markets

Exchange rate stabilization or currency ?pegs? are among the most prevalent interventions in international financial markets. Removing a peg to a safer currency can make the home currency more risky and less attractive to investors. When a country with market influence removes its peg from a safer country, the risk associated with holding either currency can be affected. Analyzing the effects of a scenario that changes a peg of the renminbi from the U.S. dollar to a basket of currencies suggests that China?s interest rates increase while U.S. interest rates decrease.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Working Paper
A Risk-based Theory of Exchange Rate Stabilization

We develop a novel, risk-based theory of the effects of exchange rate stabilization. In our model, the choice of exchange rate regime allows policymakers to make their currency, and by extension, the firms in their country, a safer investment for international investors. Policies that induce a country's currency to appreciate when the marginal utility of international investors is high lower the required rate of return on the country's currency and increase the world-market value of domestic firms. Applying this logic to exchange rate stabilizations, we find a small economy stabilizing its ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2016-15

Journal Article
Economic Forecasts with the Yield Curve

The term spread?the difference between long-term and short-term interest rates?is a strikingly accurate predictor of future economic activity. Every U.S. recession in the past 60 years was preceded by a negative term spread, that is, an inverted yield curve. Furthermore, a negative term spread was always followed by an economic slowdown and, except for one time, by a recession. While the current environment is somewhat special?with low interest rates and risk premiums?the power of the term spread to predict economic slowdowns appears intact.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Report
What to expect from the lower bound on interest rates: evidence from derivatives prices

This paper analyzes the effects of the lower bound for interest rates on the distributions of inflation and interest rates. We study a stylized New Keynesian model where the policy instrument is subject to a lower bound to motivate the empirical analysis. Two equilibria emerge: In the “target equilibrium,” policy is unconstrained most or all of the time, whereas in the “liquidity trap equilibrium,” policy is mostly or always constrained. We use options data on future interest rates and inflation to study whether the decrease in the natural real rate of interest leads to forecast ...
Staff Reports , Paper 865

Journal Article
Information in the Yield Curve about Future Recessions

The ability of the Treasury yield curve to predict future recessions has recently received a great deal of public attention. An inversion of the yield curve?when short-term interest rates are higher than long-term rates?has been a reliable predictor of recessions. The difference between ten-year and three-month Treasury rates is the most useful term spread for forecasting recessions?without any adjustment for an estimate of the underlying term premium. However, such correlations in the data do not identify cause and effect, which complicates their interpretation.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Working Paper
Tying Down the Anchor: Monetary Policy Rules and the Lower Bound on Interest Rates

This paper uses a standard New Keynesian model to analyze the effects and implementation of various monetary policy frameworks in the presence of a low natural rate of interest and a lower bound on interest rates. Under a standard inflation-targeting approach, inflation expectations will be anchored at a level below the inflation target, which in turn exacerbates the deleterious effects of the lower bound on the economy. Two key themes emerge from our analysis. First, the central bank can eliminate this problem of a downward bias in inflation expectations by following an average-inflation ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2019-14

Journal Article
Current Recession Risk According to the Yield Curve

The slope of the Treasury yield curve is a popular recession predictor with an excellent track record. The two most common alternative measures of the slope typically move together but have diverged recently, making the resulting recession signals unclear. Economic arguments and empirical evidence, including its more accurate predictions, favor the difference between 10-year and 3-month Treasury securities. Recession probabilities for the next year derived from this spread so far remain modest.
FRBSF Economic Letter , Volume 2022 , Issue 11 , Pages 05

Journal Article
Average-Inflation Targeting and the Effective Lower Bound

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate to essentially zero. It took further measures to support the functioning of financial markets and the flow of credit. Nevertheless, the economic downturn is putting downward pressure on inflation, which had already been running below the Fed’s 2% target for several years. This raises additional concerns that inflation expectations could decline and push inflation down further, ultimately hampering economic activity. A monetary policy framework based on average-inflation targeting could help address these ...
FRBSF Economic Letter , Volume 2020 , Issue 22 , Pages 01

Report
Macroeconomic Drivers and the Pricing of Uncertainty, Inflation, and Bonds

This paper analyzes a new stylized fact: According to financial market prices, the correlation between uncertainty shocks, as measured by changes in the VIX, and changes in break-even inflation rates has declined and turned negative over the past quarter century. It rationalizes this uncertainty-inflation correlation within a standard New Keynesian model with a lower bound on interest rates combined with a decline in the natural rate of interest. With a lower natural rate, the likelihood of the lower bound binding increased and the effects of uncertainty on the economy became more pronounced. ...
Staff Reports , Paper 1011

Report
Tying down the anchor: monetary policy rules and the lower bound on interest rates

This paper uses a standard New Keynesian model to analyze the effects and implementation of various monetary policy frameworks in the presence of a low natural rate of interest and a lower bound on interest rates. Under a standard inflation-targeting approach, inflation expectations will be anchored at a level below the inflation target, which in turn exacerbates the deleterious effects of the lower bound on the economy. Two key themes emerge from our analysis. First, the central bank can eliminate this problem of a downward bias in inflation expectations by following an average-inflation ...
Staff Reports , Paper 887

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