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Jel Classification:E2 

Discussion Paper
How Much Will the Rise in Commodity Prices Reduce Discretionary Income?

Commodity prices have risen considerably since August 2010, raising concerns that higher commodity prices could reduce households’ discretionary income and slow the recovery. For example, as former Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said in the Wall Street Journal last fall: “… the surge in international commodity prices. If that persists it could hurt Americans’ disposable income, especially as it is reflected in higher gas and energy prices.” Is that concern warranted?
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110323

Discussion Paper
New York City’s Economic Recovery—Main Street Gets the Jump on Wall Street

After bottoming out in late 2009, New York City’s economy has been on the road to recovery. In this post, we call attention to an unprecedented feature of the current economic recovery: overall employment in the city began to rebound from the recession well before Wall Street started adding jobs. We also consider some questions that this development naturally raises: What took Wall Street employment so long to recover? What’s been driving job generation on Main Street? What does the recent pickup in Wall Street employment suggest about the outlook for the city’s economy?
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110502

Discussion Paper
The Great Recession and Recovery in the Tri-State Region

In 2008, as the financial crisis unfolded and the U.S. economy tumbled into a sharp recession, the outlook for the tri-state region (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) and especially New York City—the heart of the nation's financial industry—looked grim. Regional economists feared an economic downturn as harsh as the one in 2001, or the even deeper recession of the early 1990s. Now, as the recovery takes hold, we can report that although the economic downturn was severe in the region, with the unemployment rate surging above 9 percent in many places, it was less severe than many had ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110509b

Discussion Paper
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.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110606

Discussion Paper
Lower Income Households’ Vulnerability to the Recent Commodity Price Surge

In a previous post, I discussed the impact of changing commodity prices on the discretionary income of households and concluded that these effects generally were relatively modest except in cases of extreme swings in commodity prices. As many people know, there was a large surge in energy prices during the first quarter of 2011, and it appears to have had a significant effect on discretionary income and consumer spending. (See recent speeches by Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and New York Fed President Dudley; for views outside the Fed, see FT Alphaville, Tim Duy, and James Hamilton.)
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110613

Discussion Paper
How Easy Is It to Forecast Commodity Prices?

Over the last decade, unprecedented spikes and drops in commodity prices have been a recurrent source of concern to both policymakers and the general public. Given all the recent attention, have economists and analysts made any progress in their ability to predict movements in commodity prices? In this post, we find there is no easy answer. We consider different strategies to forecast near-term commodity price inflation, but find that no particular approach is systematically more accurate and robust. Additionally, the results warn against interpreting current forecasts of commodity prices ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110627

Discussion Paper
Discretionary Services Expenditures in This Business Cycle

The pronounced weakness in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) for services has been an unusual feature of the 2007-09 recession and the slow recovery from it. Even in 2010:Q4, when real PCE increased at a relatively robust 4.1 percent annual rate, real PCE on services rose at only a 1.4 percent rate. This weakness has been especially evident in “discretionary” services (to be defined below), which fell more in the recent recession than in previous recessions and since have rebounded more sluggishly. In this post, I suggest that the continued sluggishness in these expenditures lends a ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110706

Discussion Paper
What to Make of Market Measures of Inflation Expectations?

Central banks and investors around the world closely monitor developments in financial markets to gauge expectations of future interest rates and inflation. In this post, we argue that two of the most commonly used market-based inflation expectations measures—TIPS breakevens and inflation swaps—are noisy. Although movements in both measures provide policymakers with valuable information, readings should always be interpreted with care.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110815

Discussion Paper
Tax Buyouts: Raising Government Revenues without Increasing Labor Tax Distortions

At a time of increasing fiscal pressures both here and abroad, it seems important to consider ways of raising government revenues without discouraging people from working. This post describes a revenue raising plan—a tax “buyout”—that does just that. The buyout would give you, the taxpayer, the option each year of paying a lump sum to the government in exchange for a given reduction in your marginal tax rate that year. In effect, you would use the lump sum payment to buy yourself a lower marginal tax rate, which would in turn give you more incentive to work. The buyout would be risk ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110817

Discussion Paper
What If the U.S. Dollar's Global Role Changed?

It isn’t surprising that the dollar is always in the news, given the prominence of the United States in the global economy and how often the dollar is used in transactions around the world (as discussed in a 2010 Current Issues article). But the dollar may not retain this dominance forever. In this post, we consider and catalog the implications for the United States of a potential lessening of the dollar’s primacy in international transactions. The circumstances surrounding such a possibility are important for the effects. As long as U.S. fundamentals remain strong, key consequences could ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20111003

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