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 ...
The impact of policy uncertainty on U. S. employment: industry evidence
The anemic pace of the recovery of the U. S. economy from the Great Recession has frequently been blamed on heightened uncertainty, much of which concerns the nation?s fiscal policy. Intuition suggests that increased policy uncertainty likely has different impacts on different industries, to the extent that industries differ in their exposure to government policies. This study utilizes industry data to explore whether policy uncertainty indeed affects the dynamics of employment, and particularly its impact on industry employment, during this recovery. This analysis focuses on heterogeneity ...
Evidence of a credit crunch?: results from the 2010 survey of first district community banks
This policy brief summarizes the findings of the Survey of Community Banks conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in May 2010. This survey seeks to understand how the supply of, and demand for, bank business loans changed in the period following the financial crisis. The survey design focuses on assessing how much community banks were willing and able to lend to local businesses that used to be customers of large banks but lost access to credit in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The survey responses provide some evidence that lending standards for commercial loans have ...
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 ...