Fight the Pandemic, Save the Economy: Lessons from the 1918 Flu
The COVID-19 outbreak has sparked urgent questions about the impact of pandemics, and associated countermeasures, on the real economy. Policymakers are in uncharted territory, with little guidance on what the expected economic fallout will be and how the crisis should be managed. In this blog post, we use insights from a recent research paper to discuss two sets of questions. First, what are the real economic effects of a pandemic—and are these effects temporary or persistent? Second, how does the local public health response affect the economic severity of the pandemic? In particular, do ...
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: 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 ...
How Fast Has COVID-19 Been Spreading?
For many countries, the number of COVID-19 cases seems to double every few days.
Expected U.S. Macroeconomic Performance during the Pandemic Adjustment Period
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard recommends declaring a “National Pandemic Adjustment Period” and discusses three broad goals of macroeconomic policy during this period.
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 the COVID-19 Pandemic May Reshape the Digital Payments Landscape
Despite an increase in payments made via online or mobile channels in recent years, many consumers have not yet adopted digital payments. The COVID-19 pandemic may be shifting more consumers toward digital payments, along with industry and legislative initiatives designed to facilitate broader access.
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.
Coronavirus Dampens China’s First-Quarter GDP
The novel coronavirus spread in China long before other countries, making China a potential early signal of the virus’s economic effects. Using a range of statistical models, we estimate that the coronavirus outbreak may have reduced China’s real GDP by an annualized rate of 32 percent, leading year-over-year growth to decline from 6 percent in 2019:Q4 to −3.8 percent in 2020:Q1.
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.