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Jel Classification:H84 

Report
Credit Access and Mobility during the Flint Water Crisis

How do credit-constrained communities cope with the financial consequences of environmental crises? Beginning in April 2014, the residents of Flint, Michigan, were exposed to lead-contaminated water resulting from a series of governmental missteps. In this paper, we use the spatial distribution of lead and galvanized pipes in Flint to study the effect of the crisis on households’ financial health, including loan balances, repayment of outstanding debt, and Equifax Risk Scores, as well as on household mobility. We find that relatively more affected households, as measured by exposure to lead ...
Staff Reports , Paper 960

Discussion Paper
U.S. Virgin Islands' Economy Hit Hard by Irma and Maria

In the ten months that have passed since Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the Caribbean, much interest has been focused on Puerto Rico and its roughly 3.3 million American citizens, who weathered the largest blackout in U.S. history. However, far less attention has been paid to the U.S. Virgin Islands, even though St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, and a number of smaller islands suffered comparable devastation. This is partly attributable to their much smaller population: the U.S. Virgin Islands (?Virgin Islands?) is home to roughly 105,000 people?1/30th Puerto Rico?s population. Even so, ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20180709

Discussion Paper
Puerto Rico Post-Maria: Twelve Months of Hardship

Puerto Rico recently observed the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria?the most destructive storm to hit the Commonwealth since the San Felipe Segundo hurricane in 1928. Maria, combined with Hurricane Irma, which had glanced the island about two weeks prior, is estimated to have caused nearly 3,000 deaths and tens of billions of dollars of physical damage. Millions went without power for weeks, in most cases months. Basic services?water, sewage, telecommunications, medical care, schools?suffered massive disruptions. While it is difficult to assign a cost to all the suffering endured by ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20180928a

Working Paper
Household Finance after a Natural Disaster: The Case of Hurricane Katrina

Little is known about how affected residents are able to cope with the fi nancial shock of a natural disaster. We investigate the impact that flooding from a major US hurricane had on household finance. Spikes in credit card borrowing and overall delinquency rates for the most flooded residents are modest in size and short-lived. Greater flooding results in larger reductions in total debt. Lower debt levels appear to be driven by homeowners using flood insurance to repay their mortgages rather than to rebuild. Debt reductions are larger in census tracts where mortgages were likely to be ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1406

Discussion Paper
Why Cash Transfers Are Good Policy in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an exceptionally large and negative impact on economic activity around the world. We show that cash transfers can be a useful policy tool during a pandemic. Cash transfers mitigate consumption inequality induced by the pandemic and provide incentives to individuals who are most negatively affected by lockdown policies to adhere to them.
Policy Hub , Paper 2020-4

Report
Disaster (over-)insurance: the long-term financial and socioeconomic consequences of Hurricane Katrina

Federal disaster insurance?in the form of national flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other programs?is designed to nationally-distribute large geography-specific shocks like earthquakes and hurricanes. This study examines the local longrun net impact of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent policy response on impacted residents. Using a unique fifteen-year panel of five percent of adult Americans? credit reports, we find higher rates of insolvency and lower homeownership among inundated residents of New Orleans ten years after the storm, relative to their ...
Staff Reports , Paper 807

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