Corporate Debt Maturity and Monetary Policy
Do firms lengthen the maturity of their borrowing following a flattening of the Treasury yield curve that results from monetary policy operations? We explore this question separately for the years before and during the zero lower bound (ZLB) period, recognizing that the same change in the yield curve slope signifies different states of the economy and monetary policy over the two regimes. We find that the answer is robustly yes for the pre-ZLB period: Firms extended the maturity of their bond issuance by nearly three years in response to a policy-induced reduction of 1 percentage point in the ...
Bitcoin as money?
The spectacular rise late last year in the price of Bitcoin, the dominant virtual currency, has attracted much public attention as well as scholarly interest. This policy brief discusses how some features of Bitcoin, as designed and executed to date, have hampered its ability to perform the functions required of a fiat money??as a medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value. Furthermore, we document how various forms of intermediaries have emerged and evolved within the Bitcoin network, particularly noting the convergence toward concentrated processing, both on and off the ...
Productivity in the slow lane?: the role of information and communications technology
As the current recovery matures in the United States, evidence is mounting that total factor productivity (TFP), the typical measure of technological change, has moved back into the slow lane. This study uses industry data to explore the extent to which the acceleration in TFP in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the subsequent deceleration are attributable to unmeasured investment by firms to take full advantage of the new capabilities made possible by information and communications technology (ICT).
Student loan debt and economic outcomes
This policy brief examines the impact of student loan debt on individuals' homeownership status and wealth accumulation, employing a rich set of financial and demographic variables that are not available in many of the existing studies that use credit bureau data. It is important to understand whether and, if so, how student loan debt affects households' economic decisions because student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt to become the second largest amount of household debt outstanding after mortgage debt.
Why has the cyclicality of productivity changed?: what does it mean?
Historically, U.S. labor productivity (output per hour) and total factor productivity (TFP) rose in booms and fell in recessions. Different models of business cycles explain this procyclicality differently. Traditional Keynesian models relied on "factor hoarding," that is, variations in how intensively labor and capital were utilized over the business cycle. Real business cycle (RBC) models instead posit that procyclical technology shocks drive the business cycle. Since the mid-1980s, however, the procyclicality of productivity has waned. TFP has been roughly acyclical with respect to ...
The equilibrium real policy rate through the lens of standard growth models
The long-run equilibrium real policy rate is a key concept in monetary economics and an important input into monetary policy decision-making. It has gained particular prominence lately as the Federal Reserve continues to normalize monetary policy. In this study, we assess the evolution, current level, and prospective values of this equilibrium rate within the framework of standard growth models. Our analysis considers as a baseline the single-sector Solow model, but it places more emphasis on the multi-sector neoclassical growth model, which better fits the data over the past three decades. ...
Technology, the nature of information, and fintech marketplace lending
The retail lending landscape has changed considerably over the past two decades, the most recent example being the rapid growth of online, or FinTech, lending to consumers and small businesses. This paper discusses how the boundary of the firm in the retail lending market is affected by advances in information technology that have turned what was previously soft information on borrower credit risk into encoded hard data that can be precisely transmitted across firms at a very low cost. The ability to collect and process information has become the critical resource for lending decisions, ...
The Great Leverage 2.0? A Tale of Different Indicators of Corporate Leverage
Many policymakers have expressed concerns about the rise in nonfinancial corporate leverage and the risks this poses to financial stability, since (1) high leverage raises the odds of firms becoming a source of adverse shocks, and (2) high leverage amplifies the role of firms in propagating other adverse shocks. This policy brief examines alternative indicators of leverage, focusing especially on the somewhat disparate signals they send regarding the current state of indebtedness of nonfinancial corporate businesses. Even though the aggregate nonfinancial corporate debt-to-income ratio is at ...
TIPS scorecard: are TIPS accomplishing what they were supposed to accomplish?: can they be improved?
In September 1997, the U.S. Treasury developed the TIPS market in order to achieve three important policy objectives: (1) to provide consumers with a class of assets that allows for hedging against real interest rate risk, (2) to provide holders of nominal contracts a means of hedging against inflation risk, and (3) to provide everyone with a reliable indicator of the term structure of expected inflation. This paper evaluates progress toward the achievement of these objectives and analyzes prospective ways to better meet these objectives in the future, by, for example, extending the maturity ...
Risk bearing, implicit financial services, and specialization in the financial industry
What is the output of financial institutions? And how can we measure their nominal and, more importantly, real value, especially since many financial services are provided without explicit charges? This paper summarizes the theoretical result that, to correctly impute the nominal value of implicit financial service output, the ?user cost of money? framework needs to be extended to take account of the systematic risk in financial instruments. This extension is easy to implement in principle: One can continue using the current imputation procedure, and the only change needed is to adjust the ...