Central Bank Solvency and Inflation
The monetary base in the United States, defined as currency plus bank reserves, grew from about $800 billion in 2008 to $2 trillion in 2012, and to roughly $4 trillion at the end of 2014 (see chart below). Some commentators have viewed this increase in the monetary base as a sure harbinger of inflation. For example, one economist wrote that this “unprecedented expansion of the money supply could make the ’70s look benign.” These predictions of inflation rest on the monetarist argument that nominal income is proportional to the money supply. The fact that the money supply has expanded ...
Some Options for Addressing Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Problems
Puerto Rico’s economic and fiscal challenges have been an important focus of work done here at the New York Fed, resulting in two reports (2012 and 2014), several blog posts and one paper in our Current Issues series in just the last few years. As the Commonwealth’s problems have deepened, the Obama administration and Congress have begun discussing potential approaches to addressing them. In this post, we update our previous estimates of Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt and discuss the effect that various forms of bankruptcy protection might have on the Commonwealth.
Forecasting Interest Rates over the Long Run
In a previous post, we showed how market rates on U.S. Treasuries violate the expectations hypothesis because of time-varying risk premia. In this post, we provide evidence that term structure models have outperformed direct market-based measures in forecasting interest rates. This suggests that term structure models can play a role in long-run planning for public policy objectives such as assessing the viability of Social Security.
Inequality, inflation, and central bank independence
What can account for the different contemporaneous inflation experiences of various countries, and of the same country over time? We present an analysis of the determination of inflation from a political economy perspective. We document a positive correlation between income inequality and inflation and then present a theory of the determination of inflation outcomes in democratic societies that illustrates how greater inequality leads to greater inflation, owing to a desire by voters for wealth redistribution. We conclude by showing that democracies with more independent central banks tend to ...
Do vouchers lead to sorting under random private-school selection? Evidence from the Milwaukee voucher program
This paper analyzes the impact of voucher design on student sorting in the application and enrollment phases of parental choice. More specifically, it investigates whether there are feasible ways of designing vouchers that can reduce or eliminate student sorting in these phases. Much of the existing literature investigates the question of sorting where private schools can screen students. However, the publicly funded U.S. voucher programs require private schools to accept all students unless oversubscribed and to pick students randomly if oversubscribed. This paper focuses on two crucial ...
Discounting the Long-Run
Expectations about the path of interest rates matter for many economic decisions. Three sources for obtaining information about such expectations are available. The first is extrapolation from historical data. The second consists of surveys of expectations. The third are expectations drawn from financial market prices, often referred to as market expectations. The last are usually considered to be model-based expectations, because, generally, a model is needed to reliably extract expectations from current prices. In this post, we explain the need for and usage of term structure models for ...
Responding to COVID-19: A Note
We consider several epidemiological simulations of the COVID-19 pandemic using the textbook SIR model and discuss the basic implications of these results for crafting an adequate response to the ensuing economic crisis. Our simulations are meant to be illustrative of the ﬁndings reported in the epidemiological literature using more sophisticated models (e.g., Ferguson et al. (2020)). The key observation we stress is that moderating the epidemiological response of social distancing according to the models may come at a steep price of extending the duration of the pandemic and hence the time ...
Municipal Debt Markets and the COVID-19 Pandemic
In March, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the market for municipal securities was severely stressed: mutual fund redemptions sparked unprecedented selling of municipal securities, yields increased sharply, and issuance dried up. In this post, we describe the evolution of municipal bond market conditions since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. We show that conditions in municipal markets have improved significantly, in part a result of the announcement and implementation of several Federal Reserve facilities. Yields have decreased substantially, mutual funds ...
Improving Child Welfare in Middle Income Countries: The Unintended Consequence of a Pro-Homemaker Divorce Law and Wait Time to Divorce
This study identifies the impact of access to and the speed of divorce on the welfare of children in a middle income largely Catholic country. Using difference-in-difference estimation techniques, I compare school enrollment for children of married and cohabiting parent households before and after the legalization of divorce. Implementing pro-homemaker divorce laws increased school enrollment anywhere from 3.4 to 5.5 percentage points, and the effect was particularly salient on secondary school students. I provide evidence that administrative processes influencing the speed of divorce affect ...
Transparency and Sources of Information on the Federal Reserve’s Operations, Income, and Balance Sheet
This week-long series examined the evolution of the Federal Reserve's securities portfolio and its performance over time. While the intent has been to enhance understanding of the Fed's activities, the Federal Reserve has long maintained a commitment to transparency and accountability. The historical information presented in these posts represents the work of New York Fed staff to collect portfolio-related information from annual statements and reports, most of which are public. To enhance public access, the resulting time series we compiled are being provided in downloadable Excel files ...