Household Financial Distress and the Burden of ‘Aggregate’ Shocks
In this paper we show that household-level financial distress (FD) varies greatly and can increase vulnerability to economic shocks. To do this, we establish three facts: (i) regions in the United States vary significantly in their “FD-intensity,” measured either by how much additional credit households can access or how delinquent they are on debts, (ii) shocks that are typically viewed as “aggregate” in nature hit geographic areas quite differently, and (iii) FD is an economic “pre-existing condition”: the share of an aggregate shock borne by a region is positively correlated ...
Changing Credit Profile of Consumers: Aging Versus the Business Cycle
The average consumer credit score reached a record high recently. While some commentators attributed this development to the cyclical rebound from the Great Recession, I find that the changing age distribution of credit applicants also played a significant role. Changes in demographics alone can explain 43 percent of the increase in the average score from 1999:Q1 to 2017:Q2.
Household Financial Distress and the Burden of “Aggregate” Shocks
The goal of this paper is to show that household-level financial distress (FD) varies greatly, meaning there is unequal exposure to macroeconomic risk, and that FD can increase macroeconomic vulnerability. To do this, we first establish three facts: (i) regions in the U.S. vary significantly in their "FD-intensity," measured either by how much additional credit households therein can access, or in how delinquent they typically are on debts, (ii) shocks that are typically viewed as "aggregate" in nature hit geographic areas quite differently, and (iii) FD is an economic "preexisting ...
Measuring Small Business Financial Health
Throughout the Great Recession and continuing into the recovery, small businesses have played an important role in creating jobs and stabilizing communities. Stories of small business owners overcoming obstacles to provide valuable services and employment are highlighted regularly by pundits, politicians and policymakers alike. However, little attention has focused on the question of what drives the financial health of these often young, often very small businesses.
Stuck in Part-Time Employment
Although the share of workers employed part time for economic reasons has declined, it is unlikely to return to its pre-recession level in the near future.
Are we in a recession? The 'anxious index nowcast' knows!
When the economy is in the midst of a recession, even a severe one, it can be quite difficult at first to tell. For example, as the Great Recession took hold in late 2007 and early 2008, uncertainty lingered as to whether the economy had merely slowed or was already contracting. Unfortunately for policymakers, investors, and consumers ? all of whom might have been able to use such information to make better decisions regarding consumption, investment, and saving ? the recession was not officially called until December 2008. Similarly, the four prior recessions were anywhere from five to nine ...
Why Has the US Economy Recovered So Consistently from Every Recession in the Past 70 Years?
It is a remarkable fact about the historical US business cycle that, after unemployment reached its peak in a recession, and a recovery began, the annual reduction in the unemployment rate was stable at around 0.55 percentage points per year. The economy seems to have had an irresistible force toward restoring full employment. There was high variation in monetary and fiscal policy, and in productivity and labor-force growth, but little variation in the rate of decline of unemployment. We explore models of the labor market's self-recovery that imply gradual working off of unemployment ...
The Inexorable Recoveries of U.S. Unemployment
Unemployment recoveries in the US have been inexorable. Between 1949 and 2019, the annual reduction in the unemployment rate during cyclical recoveries was tightly distributed around 0.1 log points per year. The economy seems to have an irresistible force toward restoring full employment. Unless another crisis intervenes, unemployment continues to glide down to a level of approximately 3.5 percentage points. Occasionally unemployment rises rapidly during an economic crisis, while most the time, unemployment declines slowly and smoothly at a near-constant proportional rate. We show that ...
Discretionary Services Expenditures in This Business Cycle
The pronounced weakness in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) for services has been an unusual feature of the 2007-09 recession and the slow recovery from it. Even in 2010:Q4, when real PCE increased at a relatively robust 4.1 percent annual rate, real PCE on services rose at only a 1.4 percent rate. This weakness has been especially evident in “discretionary” services (to be defined below), which fell more in the recent recession than in previous recessions and since have rebounded more sluggishly. In this post, I suggest that the continued sluggishness in these expenditures lends a ...