A Time-Series Perspective on Safety, Liquidity, and Low Interest Rates
The previous post in this series discussed several possible explanations for the trend decline in U.S. real interest rates since the late 1990s. We noted that while interest rates have generally come down over the past two decades, this decline has been more pronounced for Treasury securities. The conclusion that we draw from this evidence is that the convenience associated with the safety and liquidity embedded in Treasuries is an important driver of the secular (long-term) decline in Treasury yields. In this post and the next, we provide an overview of the two complementary empirical ...
Sizing Up the Fed's Maturity Extension Program
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) recently announced its intention to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities by purchasing $400 billion of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of six years to thirty years and selling an equal amount of Treasury securities with remaining maturities of three years or less. The nominal size of this maturity extension program, at $400 billion, is smaller than the $600 billion of purchases during the second round of large-scale asset purchases (LSAP 2) completed in June 2011. The two programs are more comparable in size, however, ...
Household leveraging and deleveraging
U.S. households' debt skyrocketed between 2000 and 2007, but has since been falling. This leveraging and deleveraging cycle cannot be accounted for by the liberalization and subsequent tightening of mortgage credit standards that occurred during the period. We base this conclusion on a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium model calibrated using macroeconomic aggregates and microeconomic data from the Survey of Consumer Finances. From the perspective of the model, the credit cycle is more likely due to factors that impacted house prices more directly, thus affecting the availability of ...
Global Trends in Interest Rates
Long-term government bond yields are at their lowest levels of the past 150 years in advanced economies. In this blog post, we argue that this low-interest-rate environment reflects secular global forces that have lowered real interest rates by about two percentage points over the past forty years. The magnitude of this decline has been nearly the same in all advanced economies, since their real interest rates have converged over this period. The key factors behind this development are an increase in demand for safety and liquidity among investors and a slowdown in global economic growth.
CONDI: a cost-of-nominal-distortions index
We construct a price index with weights on the prices of different PCE goods chosen to minimize the welfare costs of nominal distortions: a cost-of-nominal-distortions index (CONDI). We compute these weights in a multisector New Keynesian model with time-dependent price setting, calibrated using U.S. data on the dispersion of price stickiness and labor shares across sectors. We find that the CONDI weights mostly depend on price stickiness and are less affected by the dispersion in labor shares. Moreover, CONDI stabilization leads to negligible welfare losses compared to the optimal policy and ...
Credit Supply and the Housing Boom
There is no consensus among economists as to what drove the rise of U.S. house prices and household debt in the period leading up to the recent financial crisis. In this post, we argue that the fundamental factor behind that boom was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit, which was brought about by securitization and shadow banking, along with a surge in capital inflows from abroad. This argument is based on the interpretation of four macroeconomic developments between 2000 and 2006 provided by a general equilibrium model of housing and credit.
Opening the Toolbox: The Nowcasting Code on GitHub
In April 2016, we unveiled--and began publishing weekly--the New York Fed Staff Nowcast, an estimate of GDP growth using an automated platform for tracking economic conditions in real time. Today we go a step further by publishing the MATLAB code for the nowcasting model, available here on GitHub, a public repository hosting service. We hope that sharing our code will make it easier for people interested in monitoring the macroeconomy to understand the details underlying the nowcast and to replicate our results.
A Bird's Eye View of the FRBNY DSGE Model
Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models provide a stylized representation of reality. As such, they do not attempt to model all the myriad relationships that characterize economies, focusing instead on the key interactions among critical economic actors. In this post, we discuss which of these interactions are captured by the FRBNY model and describe how we quantify them using macroeconomic data. For more curious readers, this New York Fed working paper provides much greater detail on these and other aspects of the model.
The Great Moderation, Forecast Uncertainty, and the Great Recession
The Great Recession of 2007-09 was a dramatic macroeconomic event, marked by a severe contraction in economic activity and a significant fall in inflation. These developments surprised many economists, as documented in a recent post on this site. One factor cited for the failure to anticipate the magnitude of the Great Recession was a form of complacency affecting forecasters in the wake of the so-called Great Moderation. In this post, we attempt to quantify the role the Great Moderation played in making the Great Recession appear nearly impossible in the eyes of macroeconomists.
How Unconventional Are Large-Scale Asset Purchases?
The large-scale asset purchases (LSAPs) undertaken by the Fed starting in late November 2008 are widely considered to be a form of ?unconventional? monetary policy. Although these interventions are certainly unprecedented, this post shows that their effect on financial conditions is not that unconventional, in the sense that the relative effects of the LSAPs on returns across broad asset classes?nominal and real government bonds, stocks, and foreign exchange?are quite similar to those of more conventional policies, such as a reduction in the federal funds rate (FFR).