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The First Time the Fed Bought GSE Debt
In 1966, Congress gave the Federal Reserve authority to purchase the debt of agencies guaranteed or owned by the federal government. This same authority has enabled the Fed's purchases of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and debt of government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since 2008 in support of the housing market. In a little-known episode, the Fed shied away from exercising this authority in the 1960s but eventually conceded under political pressure and perceived threats to its independence.
Characterizing the Unusual Path of U.S. Output During and After the Great Recession
In this article, we examine the extent to which U.S. per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth has been uncharacteristically slow in the recovery from the 2007--09 recession and investigate whether this tepid growth might be a short- or longer-term phenomenon. We first examine several conventional univariate time series representations of per capita GDP and use these to assess the most recent recession and recovery in relation to its previous behavior over the U.S. postwar period. We then present a decomposition of per capita GDP into three components---each of which tends to fluctuate ...
Learning About Consumer Uncertainty from Qualitative Surveys: As Uncertain As Ever
We study diffusion indices constructed from qualitative surveys to provide real-time assessments of various aspects of economic activity. In particular, we highlight the role of diffusion indices as estimates of change in a quasi extensive margin, and characterize their distribution, focusing on the uncertainty implied by both sampling and the polarization of participants' responses. Because qualitative tendency surveys generally cover multiple questions around a topic, a key aspect of this uncertainty concerns the coincidence of responses, or the degree to which polarization comoves, across ...