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Keywords:consumer spending 

Discussion Paper
Did State Reopenings Increase Consumer Spending?

The spread of COVID-19 in the United States has had a profound impact on economic activity. Beginning in March, most states imposed severe restrictions on households and businesses to slow the spread of the virus. This was followed by a gradual loosening of restrictions (“reopening”) starting in April. As the virus has re-emerged, a number of states have taken steps to reverse the reopening of their economies. For example, Texas and Florida closed bars again in June, and Arizona additionally paused operations of gyms and movie theatres. Taken together, these measures raise the question of ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200918b

Discussion Paper
Spending Down Pandemic Savings Is an “Only-in-the-U.S.” Phenomenon

Household saving soared in the United States and other high-income economies during the pandemic, as consumers cut back on spending while government policies supported incomes. More recently, saving behavior has diverged, with the U.S. saving rate dropping below its pre-pandemic average while saving rates elsewhere have remained above their pre-pandemic averages. As a result, U.S. consumers have been spending down the “excess savings” built up during the pandemic while the excess savings abroad remain untapped. This divergent behavior helps explain why U.S. GDP has returned to its ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20231011

Working Paper
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cellphone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay at home: county-level measures of mobility declined by between 9% and 13% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: restaurants and retail stores. However, food delivery sharply increased after orders went into effect. Third, there is substantial county-level heterogeneity in consumer ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-12

Tracking the Economic Impact of the Pandemic Using High-Frequency Data

High-frequency data can provide a quicker snapshot of economic conditions than data that take weeks or months to become available.
On the Economy

Working Paper
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cellphone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay at home: county-level measures of mobility declined by between 9% and 13% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: restaurants and retail stores. However, food delivery sharply increased after orders went into effect. Third, there is substantial county-level heterogeneity in consumer ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-12

Discussion Paper
Racial and Income Gaps in Consumer Spending following COVID-19

This post is the first in a two-part series that seeks to understand whether consumer spending patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic evolved differentially across counties by race and income. As the pandemic hit and social distancing restrictions were put into place in March 2020, consumer spending plummeted. Subsequently, as social distancing restrictions began to be relaxed later in spring 2020, consumer spending started to rebound. We find that higher-income counties had a considerably steeper decline and a shallower recovery than low-income counties did. The differences by race were also ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20210513a

Working Paper
Government Transfers and Consumer Spending among Households with Children during COVID-19

Leveraging novel data on consumer credit and debit card spending by Zip code, this study examines how the impact of government transfers on economic well-being varied by household type during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings indicate that pandemic transfers disproportionately benefited households with children, buffering them from earnings losses at the pandemic’s start and sustaining spending growth over time. Household essential spending increased proportionally with the delivery of cash transfers, while discretionary spending was influenced more by pandemic-specific factors beyond ...
Working Papers , Paper 22-17

Working Paper
Tracking U.S. Consumers in Real Time with a New Weekly Index of Retail Trade

We create a new weekly index of retail trade that accurately predicts the U.S. Census Bureau's Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). The index's weekly frequency provides an early snapshot of the MRTS and allows for a more granular analysis of the aggregate consumer response to fast-moving events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. To construct the index, we extract the co-movement in weekly data series capturing credit and debit card transactions, foot traffic, gasoline sales, and consumer sentiment. To ensure that the index is representative of aggregate retail spending, we implementa novel ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-05

Discussion Paper
How Much Have Consumers Spent on Imports during the Pandemic?

The return of U.S. real GDP to its pre-pandemic level in the second quarter of this year was driven by consumer spending on goods. Such spending was well above its pre-pandemic path, while spending on services was well below. Despite the surge in goods spending, domestic manufacturing has increased only modestly, leaving most of the increase in demand being filled by imports. While higher imports have been a drag on growth, the size of this drag has been moderated by the value created by the domestic transportation, wholesale, and retail sectors in selling these goods. Going forward, a ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20211022

Speech
Perspectives on the U.S. Economic Outlook

My view is that the economy is currently in a good place. Labor markets are strong, inflation is moving to target, and growth is likely to be somewhat above potential. Particularly given the recent cuts in the federal funds rate, and the fact that monetary actions take effect with some lag, I would say that this is a good time to patiently assess the economy. In the short run, I do not see a need for additional policy easing unless there is a material change to the forecast.
Speech

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