Understanding the Recent Rise in Municipal Bond Yields
In late March, investors sold off municipal bonds at a rapid pace, depressing municipal bond prices and driving up their yields relative to U.S. Treasuries. We find that this initial investor run on the municipal bond market was likely due to increased liquidity demand rather than credit concerns, making the Federal Reserve’s early actions to relieve liquidity stress effective. Going forward, however, municipal bond prices will likely reflect increased credit concerns.
COVID-19: A View from the Labor Market
This paper examines the response of the U.S. labor market to a large and persistent job separation rate shock, motivated by the ongoing economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We use nonlinear methods to analytically and numerically characterize the responses of vacancy creation and unemployment. Vacancies decline in response to the shock when firms expect persistent job destruction and the number of unemployed searching for work is low. Quantitatively, under our baseline forecast the unemployment rate peaks at 19.7%, 2 months after the shock, and takes 1 year to return to 5%. Relative to ...
The Fed: A For-Purpose Organization
Philadelphia Fed President Patrick T. Harker spoke about racial equity and economic inclusion at the virtual Operation HOPE Annual Meeting. Harker said that although Congress mandated the Fed to provide maximum employment and stable prices “another purpose I believe we can work toward is narrowing the yawning racial disparities that continue to plague our society.”
Health versus Wealth: On the Distributional Effects of Controlling a Pandemic
To slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries are shutting down nonessential sectors of the economy. Older individuals have the most to gain from slowing virus diffusion. Younger workers in sectors that are shuttered have the most to lose. In this paper, we build a model in which economic activity and disease progression are jointly determined. Individuals differ by age (young and retired), by sector (basic and luxury), and by health status. Disease transmission occurs in the workplace, in consumption activities, at home, and in hospitals. We study the optimal economic mitigation policy of a ...
COVID-19 Stuns U.S. and Tenth District Economies, but Both Show Signs of Stabilization
COVID-19 and attempts to slow its spread have led to a decline in economic activity unprecedented in both severity and speed. Although every part of the United States experienced dramatic decreases in activity, states in the Tenth Federal Reserve District, with lower COVID-19 cases as a percentage of the population, have fared slightly better. More recently, national and regional measures of business and consumer activity have improved but remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
Pandemic Relief Has Aided Low-Income Individuals: Evidence from Alternative Financial Services
Although low-income individuals are more likely to have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic relief efforts may have helped prevent them from experiencing increased financial distress. Consumer interest in payday loans, title loans, and pawn loans have all declined since the onset of the pandemic, suggesting low-income individuals have been able to access credit and meet basic financial needs without the use of these alternative financial services.
Cell Phone Data Suggest Persistent Differences in Work from Home by Income, Race, and Education during the Pandemic
Social-distancing policies to combat the spread of COVID-19 led to an initial spike in work from home. We use high-frequency cell phone geolocation data to assess how work from home has evolved since then. We show that work from home declined as restrictions eased but remains above pre-pandemic levels. In addition, we find that differences across income, race, and education in work from home that emerged with the pandemic persist a year later.
The G-Spread Suggests Federal Reserve Restored Calm to Treasury Markets
In March, the coronavirus pandemic led to a sell-off in Treasury markets and a subsequent period of financial stress. I use one measure of Treasury market pressure, the G-spread, to gauge how liquidity in Treasury markets changed in response to the pandemic and the Federal Reserve’s interventions. I find that timely Federal Reserve interventions restored calm to the Treasury market, and that these interventions stand out in speed and scale compared with interventions in the early days of the 2007–08 financial crisis.
How Fast Has COVID-19 Been Spreading?
For many countries, the number of COVID-19 cases seems to double every few days.