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Jel Classification:H12 

Discussion Paper
Impacts of COVID-19: Mitigation Efforts versus Herd Immunity

The rapid spread of COVID-19 is having devastating effects on the global economy. With death curves beginning to bend, governments will soon need to determine when and how to relax lockdown measures. The crucial question is: what are the public health consequences of reopening the economy? In this article, we argue that the observed decline in daily deaths could be due to two scenarios: social distancing measures and herd immunity. Both the widely used SIR model and the data collected thus far cannot distinguish these two scenarios. Such an identification problem generates a large degree of ...
Policy Hub , Paper 2020-3

Working Paper
What Happened to the US Economy During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic? A View Through High-Frequency Data

Burns and Mitchell (1946, 109) found a recession of “exceptional brevity and moderate amplitude.” I confirm their judgment by examining a variety of high-frequency, aggregate and cross-sectional data. Industrial output fell sharply but rebounded within months. Retail seemed little affected and there is no evidence of increased business failures or stressed financial system. Cross-sectional data on manufacturing employment indicates that most of the recession, brief as it was, was due to the Armistice rather than the epidemic. Data from the nationwide coal industry documents the sharp but ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-11

Working Paper
Can a Bank Run Be Stopped? Government Guarantees and the Run on Continental Illinois

This paper analyzes the run on Continental Illinois in 1984. We find that the run slowed but did not stop following an extraordinary government intervention, which included the guarantee of all liabilities of the bank and a commitment to provide ongoing liquidity support. Continental's outflows were driven by a broad set of US and foreign financial institutions. These were large, sophisticated creditors with holdings far in excess of the insurance limit. During the initial run, creditors with relatively liquid balance sheets nevertheless withdrew more than other creditors, likely reflecting ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2016-3

Working Paper
What Happened to the US Economy During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic? A View Through High-Frequency Data

Burns and Mitchell (1946, 109) found a recession of "exceptional brevity and moderate amplitude." I confirm their judgment by examining a variety of high-frequency data. Industrial output fell sharply but rebounded within months. Retail seemed little affected and there is no evidence of increased business failures or stressed financial system. Cross-sectional data from the coal industry documents the short-lived impact of the epidemic on labor supply. The Armistice possibly prolonged the 1918 recession, short as it was, by injecting momentary uncertainty. Interventions to hinder the contagion ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-11

Journal Article
Introduction to Special Issue: The Appropriate Role of Government in U.S. Mortgage Markets

The U.S. mortgage finance system was one of the focal points of the 2007-08 financial crisis, yet legislative decisions about the appropriate role of the federal government in the system remain unsettled. Policy deliberations have focused on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?the two enormous government-sponsored enterprises that were placed into federal conservatorship in September 2008. The two GSEs have long been the centerpieces of a mortgage finance system that relies on capital market financing of U.S. residential mortgages. This volume contains eight articles that touch on several key ...
Economic Policy Review , Issue 24-3 , Pages 1-10

Working Paper
Using the Eye of the Storm to Predict the Wave of Covid-19 UI Claims

We leverage an event-study research design focused on the seven costliest hurricanes to hit the US mainland since 2004 to identify the elasticity of unemployment insurance filings with respect to search intensity. Applying our elasticity estimate to the state-level Google Trends indexes for the topic “unemployment,” we show that out-of-sample forecasts made ahead of the official data releases for March 21 and 28 predicted to a large degree the extent of the Covid-19 related surge in the demand for unemployment insurance. In addition, we provide a robust assessment of the uncertainty ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-10

Report
Pandemic Lockdown: The Role of Government Commitment

This paper studies lockdown policy in a dynamic economy without government commitment. Lockdown imposes a cap on labor supply, which improves health prospects at the cost of economic output and consumption. A government would like to commit to the extent of future lockdowns in order to guarantee an economic outlook that supports efficient levels of investment into intermediate inputs. However, such a commitment is not credible, since investments are sunk at the time when the government chooses a lockdown. As a result, lockdown under lack of commitment deviates from the optimal policy. Rules ...
Staff Report , Paper 627

Report
The Main Street Lending Program

The Main Street Lending Program was created to support credit to small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofit organizations that were harmed by the pandemic, particularly those that were unsupported by other pandemic-response programs. It was the most direct involvement in the business loan market by the Federal Reserve since the 1930s and 1940s. Main Street operated by buying 95 percent participations in standardized loans from lenders (mostly banks) and sharing the credit risk with them. It would end up supporting loans to more than 2,400 borrowers and co-borrowers across the United ...
Current Policy Perspectives

Working Paper
Using the Eye of the Storm to Predict the Wave of Covid-19 UI Claims

We leverage an event-study research design focused on the seven costliest hurricanes to hit the US mainland since 2004 to identify the elasticity of unemployment insurance filings with respect to search intensity. Applying our elasticity estimate to the state-level Google Trends indexes for the topic “unemployment,” we show that out-of-sample forecasts made ahead of the official data releases for March 21 and 28 predicted to a large degree the extent of the Covid-19 related surge in the demand for unemployment insurance. In addition, we provide a robust assessment of the uncertainty ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-10

Working Paper
The Relationship Between Race, Type of Work, and Covid-19 Infection Rates

This paper explores the relationship between Covid-19 infection rates, race, and type of work. We focus on three U.S. cities—Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia—allowing us to exploit zip code-level variation in infection rates and testing rates over time, while controlling for a variety of neighborhood demographic characteristics. We find that neighborhoods with higher Black and Hispanic population shares, and neighborhoods with higher shares of workers in high-social contact jobs within essential businesses, had disproportionately higher Covid-19 infection rates, even after applying our ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP2020-18

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