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Series:Richmond Fed Economic Brief 

Briefing
How useful are consumer surveys as macroeconomic indicators?

Most economic indicators attempt to summarize what happened at a particular time in the past. Consumer surveys, however, examine attitudes and are thus fundamentally different from other widely reported indicators. Some surveys, such as those that measure inflation expectations, have proven to be useful to economists and policymakers, while the evidence is more mixed for others, such as forecasts of consumer spending.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue July

Briefing
Recent fiscal policy and the manipulation of aggregate economic activity

It is widely believed that public sector spending and investment can restore aggregate economic activity to efficient levels. But some policy responses are likely to be more successful than others. In particular, directly targeting frictions in capital, labor, and insurance markets arguably provides the best chances of improving welfare.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue Aug

Briefing
Estimating Aggregate Fiscal Multipliers from Local Data

Variations among regions in their responses to economic policies can be used to estimate the effects of those policies at the national level while minimizing or eliminating issues of reverse causation. Recent research has employed county-level data to look at the effects of federal government spending ? in particular, the 2009?12 stimulus ? on aggregate consumption.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue May

Briefing
The Persistence of Financial Distress

Household financial distress is pervasive. Is this pattern driven by a small share of individuals experiencing persistent distress, by the majority facing more occasional distress, or something in between? Recent research indicates that over a lifetime, financial distress is unlikely for most but very persistent for some. Models that account for the uncertain evolution of consumers' earnings over time and the availability of formal consumer bankruptcy cannot explain ? by themselves ? this pattern, but a model that also allows for informal default and variation in consumers' willingness to ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue March

Briefing
Welfare Analysis of Debit Card Interchange Fee Regulation

Merchants pay interchange fees to card issuers when they accept credit or debit cards as payment. Many merchants have complained that the fees far exceed issuers' costs for processing such transactions. In response to those complaints, Congress directed the Federal Reserve to impose a cap on debit card interchange fees. The cap lowered interchange fees for most merchants, but it yielded some unintended consequences. An analysis of the payment-card market suggests several factors to consider, in addition to issuer costs, when setting interchange fees to maximize social welfare.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue Oct

Briefing
Asset Bubbles and Global Imbalances

What caused the housing boom and bust of the early 2000s? Capital inflows from emerging markets to developed economies can contribute to the formation of bubbles in asset prices. Those bubbles encourage the accumulation of debt, and the deleveraging of that debt exacerbates the decline in economic activity when the bubble bursts.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Volume 20-01 , Pages 4

Briefing
Are Markets Becoming Less Competitive?

National markets in many U.S. industries seem to be increasingly dominated by large companies. Some policymakers have argued that this growing market concentration is a sign of weakening competition, but concentration by itself does not necessarily translate into market power. It may be too soon to reach a decisive conclusion about whether market power, not simply market concentration, is on the rise.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue June

Briefing
Using Inventories to Help Explain Post-1984 Business Cycles

Real business cycle (RBC) models have been highly successful at explaining business cycles that occurred before 1984. But since then, shifts in comovements and relative volatilities of key economic aggregates have challenged their preeminence. One possible refinement of the standard RBC model is to include multiple stages of production. This extension allows researchers to use inventory data to estimate the discount rate that firms use to assess future income streams. The results indicate that variations in the discount rate reflect financial frictions that have become significant drivers of ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue June

Briefing
The Cost of Fed Membership

Since the Federal Reserve's founding, it has paid a regular dividend to banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System in exchange for those banks holding stock in Federal Reserve Banks. Recent transportation legislation reduced these dividends and used the savings to help fund the bill. While this move provided a short-term financing fix, it also raised a much bigger question of whether banks will want to remain members of the Federal Reserve System.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue Feb

Briefing
Transitioning from High School to College: Differences across Virginia

In Virginia, there are substantial differences across school districts in college enrollment and, conditional on college enrollment, attendance at high-resource colleges and universities. School districts in low-income and relatively rural areas tend to demonstrate the weakest outcomes, but income and geography do not fully account for the observed differences. Whether limited enrollment at a broad range of colleges arises from gaps in academic preparation, difficulty in navigating the application process, or individual preference matters greatly for public policy.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue December

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