The Fed's Response to Economic News Explains the “Fed Information Effect”
High-frequency changes in interest rates around FOMC announcements are a standard method of measuring monetary policy shocks. However, some recent studies have documented puzzling effects of these shocks on private-sector forecasts of GDP, unemployment, or inflation that are opposite in sign to what standard macroeconomic models would predict. This evidence has been viewed as supportive of a “Fed information effect” channel of monetary policy, whereby an FOMC tightening (easing) communicates that the economy is stronger (weaker) than the public had expected. We show that these empirical ...
Would an inflation target help anchor U.S. inflation expectations?
Since the October 2005 nomination of Ben Bernanke to become Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, there has been increasing speculation in the financial press that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) might soon adopt an explicit numerical objective for inflation. However, skeptics of inflation targeting have maintained that this would constrain the FOMC and might provide little benefit in return?after all, it has been argued, haven't inflation expectations in the U.S. been well anchored since the early to mid-1990s? ; In this Economic Letter, I discuss recent research on whether ...
The bond yield \"conundrum\" from a macro-finance perspective
In 2004 and 2005, long-term interest rates remained remarkably low despite improving economic conditions and rising short-term interest rates, a situation that former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan dubbed a "conundrum." We document the extent and timing of this conundrum using two empirical no-arbitrage macro-finance models of the term structure of interest rates. These models confirm that the recent behavior of long-term yields has been unusual--that is, it cannot be explained within the framework of the models. Therefore, we consider other macroeconomic factors omitted from the models and ...
Convergence and anchoring of yield curves in the Euro area
We study the convergence of European bond markets and the anchoring of inflation expectations in euro area countries using high-frequency bond yield data for France, Germany, Italy and Spain. We find that Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has led to substantial convergence in euro area sovereign bond markets in terms of interest rate levels, unconditional daily fluctuations, and conditional responses to major macroeconomic data announcements. Our findings also suggest a substantial increase in the anchoring of long-term inflation expectations since EMU, particularly for Italy and Spain, which ...
Financial market imperfections and macroeconomics: conference summary
The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco?s annual macroeconomics conference focused this year on the theme ?Financial Market Imperfections and Macroeconomics.? Conference papers> explored the empirical and theoretical performance of the U.S. and international economies before, during, and after a financial crisis. Financial crises are typically associated with severe economic downturns, but monetary policy can help to offset some of these effects. The unconventional monetary policies pursued by many central banks after the most recent crisis may have helped prevent it from becoming much ...
Futures prices as risk-adjusted forecasts of monetary policy
Many researchers have used federal funds futures rates as measures of financial markets' expectations of future monetary policy. However, to the extent that federal funds futures reflect risk premia, these measures require some adjustment. In this paper, we document that excess returns on federal funds futures have been positive on average and strongly countercyclical. In particular, excess returns are surprisingly well predicted by macroeconomic indicators such as employment growth and financial business-cycle indicators such as Treasury yield spreads and corporate bond spreads. Excess ...
Implications of Labor Market Frictions for Risk Aversion and Risk Premia
A flexible labor margin allows households to absorb shocks to asset values with changes in hours worked as well as changes in consumption. This ability to absorb shocks along both margins can greatly alter the household?s attitudes toward risk, as shown in Swanson (2012). The present paper analyzes how frictional labor markets affect that analysis. Risk aversion is higher: 1) in recessions, 2) in countries with more frictional labor markets, and 3) for households that have more difficulty finding a job. These predictions are consistent with empirical evidence from a variety of sources. ...
Convergence of long-term bond yields in the euro area
This Economic Letter takes a closer look at the effect of European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) on long-term government bond yields in the four largest euro zone countries: France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Future prices as risk-adjusted forecasts of monetary policy
Many researchers have used federal funds futures rates as measures of financial markets? expectations of future monetary policy. However, to the extent that federal funds futures reflect risk premia, these measures require some adjustment for risk premia. In this paper, we document that excess returns on federal funds futures have been positive on average. We also document that expected excess returns are strongly countercyclical. In particular, excess returns are surprisingly predictable by employment growth and other business-cycle indicators such as Treasury yields and corporate bond ...
Macroeconomic implications of changes in the term premium
Linearized New Keynesian models and empirical no-arbitrage macro-finance models offer little insight regarding the implications of changes in bond term premiums for economic activity. We investigate these implications using both a structural model and a reduced-form framework. We show that there is no structural relationship running from the term premium to economic activity, but a reduced-form empirical analysis does suggest that a decline in the term premium has typically been associated with stimulus to real economic activity, which contradicts earlier results in the literature.