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Working Paper
Fiscal Expansions in the Era of Low Real Interest Rates

Low natural real interest rates limit the power of monetary policy to revive the economy due to the zero lower bound (ZLB) on the nominal interest rate. Fiscal stabilization via higher government debt is frequently recommended as a policy to raise the natural real interest rate. This paper builds a non-Ricardian framework to study the tradeoffs associated with a debt-financed fiscal expansion and show that even in a low real interest rate environment, higher debt doesn’t necessarily raise the real interest rate. The effect of the expansion is non-monotonic: Increasing debt raises the ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-11

Journal Article
On the record: Texas students often lack skills, financial knowledge for college success

Jeff Webster is assistant vice president for research and analytical services for TG (Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp.), a nonprofit that promotes educational access and administers the Federal Family Education Loan Program. He has studied student loan default, debt burden and student retention.
Southwest Economy , Issue Q2 , Pages 8-9

Discussion Paper
Do College Tuition Subsidies Boost Spending and Reduce Debt? Impacts by Income and Race

In an October post, we showed the effect of college tuition subsidies in the form of merit-based financial aid on educational and student debt outcomes, documenting a large decline in student debt for those eligible for merit aid. Additionally, we reported striking differences in these outcomes by demographics, as proxied by neighborhood race and income. In this follow-up post, we examine whether and how this effect passes through to other debt and consumption outcomes, namely those related to autos, homes, and credit cards. We find that access to merit aid leads to an immediate but temporary ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200708d

Journal Article
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.
FRBSF Economic Letter , Volume 2020 , Issue 30 , Pages 01-05

Identifying the Most Financially Vulnerable Families

Households with less than two months’ income in liquid assets and those with high debt-to-income ratios face the greatest risk of serious delinquency.
On the Economy

Working Paper
Killer Debt: The Impact of Debt on Mortality

This study analyzes the effect of individual finances (specifically creditworthiness and severely delinquent debt) on mortality risk. A large (approximately 170,000 individuals) subsample of a quarterly panel data set of individual credit reports is utilized in an instrumental variables design. The possibility of the reverse causality of bad health causing debt and death is removed by instrumenting for individual finances post 2011 using the exposure to the housing crisis based on their 2005 residence. Worsening creditworthiness and increases in severely delinquent debt are found to lead to ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2016-14

Discussion Paper
What Might Happen When Student Loan Forbearance Ends?

Federal student loan relief was recently extended through August 31, 2022, marking the sixth extension during the pandemic. Such debt relief includes the suspension of student loan payments, a waiver of interest, and the stopping of collections activity on defaulted loans. The suspension of student loan payments was expected to help 41 million borrowers save an estimated $5 billion per month. This post is the first in a two-part series exploring the implications and distributional consequences of policies that aim to address the student debt burden. Here, we focus on the uneven consequences ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20220421a

Discussion Paper
Does the CRA Increase Household Access to Credit?

Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in 1977 to encourage banks to meet the needs of borrowers in the areas in which they operate. In particular, the Act is focused on credit access to low- and moderate-income communities that had historically been subject to discriminatory practices like redlining.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20230227

Which Families Are Most Vulnerable to an Income Shock? A Look at Race and Ethnicity

While liquid assets, education and other factors are associated with how economically resilient families may be during a crisis, race and ethnicity are also related.
On the Economy

Journal Article
Spotlight on Research: Youth Debt and College Graduation

The rise in debt among youth to finance their higher education has engendered a great deal of discussion. Much of the attention has been focused on the angst that arises when the debt has to be repaid. This has been especially burdensome on students from lower-income households. While this is worthy of concern, another aspect of the educational-related debt that is being examined is whether the debt was worth it. More specifically, what is the association of the debt with the borrower?s graduation from college? Some investigations not only consider the relationship between educational loans ...
Cascade , Volume 1


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