Adjusting the Unemployment Thermometer
Stay-at-home orders issued to slow the spread of COVID-19 may have severely distorted labor market statistics, notably the official unemployment rate. A method to correct the survey biases associated with the pandemic indicates that the true unemployment rate was substantially higher than the official rate in April and May. However, the biases appeared to fade thereafter, making the drop in June even more dramatic than implied by the official data.
Chicago Fed: How does social distancing affect the spread of Covid-19 in the United States?
In recent weeks the country has begun to ease restrictions put in place to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, it is important for policymakers and the public to understand the extent to which increasing levels of mobility among the population may lead to a rise in the spread of the disease.
Average-Inflation Targeting and the Effective Lower Bound
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate to essentially zero. It took further measures to support the functioning of financial markets and the flow of credit. Nevertheless, the economic downturn is putting downward pressure on inflation, which had already been running below the Fed’s 2% target for several years. This raises additional concerns that inflation expectations could decline and push inflation down further, ultimately hampering economic activity. A monetary policy framework based on average-inflation targeting could help address these ...
COVID-19 Impacts on Housing Stability in the Twelfth Federal Reserve District
In the face of layoffs and furloughs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many renters and homeowners across the country have struggled to make their mortgage or rent payments. Banks have provided flexibility to borrowers through loan deferrals and forbearance during the pandemic. The federal CARES Act provided stimulus payments to low- and moderate-income people and expanded unemployment insurance payments by states, allowing many to continue paying their bills during the early months of the pandemic. The CARES Act also included rental assistance to be disbursed by states, a moratorium on evictions ...
Risk of Business Insolvency during Coronavirus Crisis
Many businesses had amassed high levels of debt, or leverage, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of precaution or necessity, firms increased their borrowing further after the onset. Although the shock to those firms’ value significantly increased their risk, measured by their distance-to-default, the default risk remains relatively small for most corporate debt. Nevertheless, the amount of outstanding liabilities among firms with elevated risk of insolvency is more than two times higher than at the peak of the global financial crisis.
The Mental Health Implications of COVID-19 on Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color
Shelter-in-place and social distancing measures have been critical for “flattening the curve” and managing the spread of COVID-19, but the sudden shock to our economic and social lives is raising concerns about the need to “flatten the second curve” of mental and behavioral health issues. A new report in JAMA Internal Medicine warns, “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears likely that there will be substantial increases in anxiety and depression, substance use, loneliness, and domestic violence; and with schools closed, there is a very real possibility of an epidemic of ...
Child Care, COVID-19, and our Economic Future
Child care is important for cultivating the future workforce, and it also ensures that working parents of today can participate in the economy, helping to achieve the Federal Reserve’s mandate for full employment. While child care in the U.S. is a piece of critical infrastructure, it is often invisible and undervalued. Straddling the lines between parenting, education, and small business, child care does not get the full attention and resources of any particular domain, and its contribution to the economy has been overlooked.Longstanding and widespread constraints in the child care sector ...
A Simple Framework to Monitor Inflation
This paper proposes a simple framework to help monitor and understand movements in PCE inﬂation in real time. The approach is to decompose inﬂation using simple categorical-level regressions or systems of equations. The estimates are then used to group categories into components of PCE inﬂation. I review some applications of the methodology, and show how it can help explain inﬂation dynamics over recent episodes. The methodology shows that inﬂation remained low in the mid-2010s primarily because of factors unrelated to aggregate economic conditions. I also apply the methodology to ...
Sudden Stops and COVID-19: Lessons from Mexico’s History
The COVID-19 pandemic produced a sharp contraction in capital flows in emerging markets during the spring of 2020. Such contractions are known as “sudden stops” and historically have been associated with significant downturns in a country’s economic activity. Evidence from Mexico’s financial crisis history suggests that sudden stops tend to exhibit a common pattern: the crisis lasts one to two years before a rapid but partial recovery, followed by years of protracted stagnation.
The Impact of COVID on Potential Output
The level of potential output is likely to be subdued post-COVID relative to its previous estimates. Most clearly, capital input and full-employment labor will both be lower than they previously were. Quantitatively, however, these effects appear relatively modest. In the long run, labor scarring could lead to lower levels of employment, but the slow pre-recession pace of GDP growth is unlikely to be substantially affected.