The Mortgage Rate Conundrum
We document the emergence of a disconnect between mortgage and Treasury interest rates in the summer of 2003. Following the end of the Federal Reserve expansionary cycle in June 2003, mortgage rates failed to rise according to their historical relationship with Treasury yields, leading to significantly and persistently easier mortgage credit conditions. We uncover this phenomenon by analyzing a large dataset with millions of loan-level observations, which allows us to control for the impact of varying loan, borrower and geographic characteristics. These detailed data also reveal that ...
Investment shocks and business cycles
Shocks to the marginal efficiency of investment are the most important drivers of business cycle fluctuations in US output and hours. Moreover, these disturbances drive prices higher in expansions, like a textbook demand shock. We reach these conclusions by estimating a DSGE model with several shocks and frictions. We also find that neutral technology shocks are not negligible, but their share in the variance of output is only around 25 percent, and even lower for hours. Labor supply shocks explain a large fraction of the variation of hours at very low frequencies, but not over the business ...
Credit Supply and the Housing Boom
The housing boom that preceded the Great Recession was due to an increase in credit supply driven by looser lending constraints in the mortgage market. This view on the fundamental drivers of the boom is consistent with four empirical observations: the unprecedented rise in home prices and household debt, the stability of debt relative to house values, and the fall in mortgage rates. These facts are difficult to reconcile with the popular view that attributes the housing boom to looser borrowing constraints associated with lower collateral requirements. In fact, a slackening of collateral ...
The Effects of the Saving and Banking Glut on the U.S. Economy
We use a quantitative equilibrium model with houses, collateralized debt and foreign borrowing to study the impact of global imbalances on the U.S. economy in the 2000s. Our results suggest that the dynamics of foreign capital flows account for between one fourth and one third of the increase in U.S. house prices and household debt that preceded the financial crisis. The key to these findings is that the model generates the sustained low level of interest rates observed over that period.
Has U.S. Monetary Policy Tracked the Efficient Interest Rate?
Interest rate decisions by central banks are universally discussed in terms of Taylor rules, which describe policy rates as responding to inflation and some measure of the output gap. We show that an alternative specification of the monetary policy reaction function, in which the interest rate tracks the evolution of a Wicksellian efficient rate of return as the primary indicator of real activity, fits the U.S. data better than otherwise identical Taylor rules. This surprising result holds for a wide variety of specifications of the other ingredients of the policy rule and of approaches to ...
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 ...
The housing drag on core inflation
Some analysts have raised the question of whether the unprecedented declines in house values, which have been the hallmark of the recent recession, might be artificially dampening core inflation readings. However, a close examination of recent inflation data shows that the weakness in housing costs is representative of a broad pattern of subdued price increases across most consumption goods and services and is not distorting the broad downward trend in core inflation measures.
Policy analysis using DSGE models: an introduction
Many central banks have come to rely on dynamic stochastic general equilibrium, or DSGE, models to inform their economic outlook and to help formulate their policy strategies. But while their use is familiar to policymakers and academics, these models are typically not well known outside these circles. This article introduces the basic structure, logic, and application of the DSGE framework to a broader public by providing an example of its use in monetary policy analysis. The authors present and estimate a simple New Keynesian DSGE model, highlighting the core features that this basic ...
A Closer Look at the Recent Pickup in Inflation
Inflation has picked up in the last few months. Between June and November 2010, the twelve-month change in the seasonally adjusted consumer price index (CPI) was stable, at slightly above 1 percent, but it jumped to 3.1 percent as of last April. Higher food and energy prices have been an important factor behind this pickup in “headline” inflation. However, core inflation has also increased; the year-over-year core CPI (excluding volatile food and energy prices) moved from a record low of 0.6 percent in October 2010 to 1.3 percent in April.
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, ...