A principal components approach to estimating labor market pressure and its implications for inflation
We build a summary measure of labor market pressure that captures the common movement among a variety of labor market series. Obtained as the labor market series? first principal component, this measure explains a large portion of the variability of the underlying series. For this reason, it is a good summary indicator of labor market pressure. We show that the unemployment rate gap has tracked this summary measure closely over the past 35 years. At times, however, the summary measure and the unemployment rate gap have sent somewhat different signals. In terms of relying on the principal ...
The Michigan Surveys of Consumers and consumer spending
We provide summary measures for a broad set of questions from the Michigan Surveys of Consumers. These measures summarize consumers' attitudes and expectations with respect to income, wealth, prices, and interest rates. They contain information that goes beyond the information captured by the Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, which is constructed from five questions in the same survey. We show that the summary measures have some explanatory power for aggregate consumption behavior over the period from 1987 to the present, even when controlling for economic fundamentals. The explanatory ...
The role of expectations and output in the inflation process: an empirical assessment
This brief examines two issues of current interest concerning inflation: (1) whether "well-anchored" expectations will help to restrain inflation's decline and whether an "un-anchoring" of expectations could lead to undesirably high inflation and (2) to what extent output (or utilization) gaps are useful components of empirical models of inflation and, if they are useful, to what extent current gaps might counterbalance the effect of expectations on inflation. The goals of conducting this examination are to articulate a reasonably coherent framework for the discussion, highlight the ...
A proposal to help distressed homeowners: a government payment-sharing plan
This public policy brief presents a proposal, originally posted on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in January of this year, designed to help homeowners who are unable to afford mortgage payments on their principal residence because they have suffered a significant income disruption and because the balance owed on their mortgage exceeds the value of their home. These homeowners represent a subset of the population of distressed homeowners, but according to our research they face an elevated risk of default and are unlikely to be helped by current foreclosure-reduction ...
Measurement of unemployment
Measures of unemployment tally people without a job who are looking for one. For measurement purposes, the critical question is what constitutes ?looking.? This article summarizes how unemployment is measured in the United States and Europe, and describes recent research investigating the permeability of the dividing line between the unemployed and ?marginally attached? subgroups of those out of the labor market. A continuum between unemployed and entirely inactive individuals indicates that measures beyond unemployment may be useful in judging the state of the labor market.
Using state and metropolitan area house price cycles to interpret the U. S. housing market
This brief examines the numerous house price cycles in states and metropolitan areas since the 1970s, drawing lessons that may be informative for analyzing and projecting national patterns. It finds that house sales volumes, new home construction, and mortgage delinquencies have provided leading indicators when a statewide house price boom was nearing an end, but that house prices have rarely decreased in the absence of a state recession. The median relationship suggests that the national OFHEO house price index could keep increasing well into 2007, given the sales and construction declines ...
Additional slack in the economy: the poor recovery in labor force participation during this business cycle
This public policy brief examines labor force participation rates in this recession and recovery and compares them with the cyclical patterns in earlier business cycles. Measured relative to the business cycle peak in March 2001, labor force participation rates almost four years later have not recovered as much as usual, and the discrepancies are large. ; Among age-by-sex groups, the participation shortfall is especially pronounced at young and prime ages: Only for men and women age 55 and older has participation risen more than is usual four years after the business cycle peak. ; The brief ...
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 ...
Inflation targeting: central bank practice overseas
This policy brief, which is based on an internal memo, summarizes the institutional and operational features observed in the 27 countries that have gained experience with inflation targeting (IT). It finds considerable convergence in many IT practices across countries over the past 10 to 15 years but much variation in policymakers? choices concerning such key issues as how they treat the borders of the target range. On the whole, most IT banks have chosen to practice inflation targeting in a more flexible and, thus, resilient fashion than many analysts once feared?seemingly without much loss ...
U.S. household deleveraging: what do the aggregate and household-level data tell us?
Deleveraging is the process by which households decide that their level of debt is inconsistent with their revised economic outlook and adjust their leverage accordingly, primarily by substituting debt repayment for consumption. Household deleveraging is a commonly cited reason for the sluggish consumption growth experienced during the current economic recovery from the Great Recession. This policy brief analyzes the impact of household debt repayment on consumer spending during and after the Great Recession by using aggregate and household-level data. Overall, the data show little evidence ...