News Sentiment in the Time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing severe disruptions to daily life and economic activity. Reliable assessments of the economic fallout in this rapidly evolving situation require timely data. Existing sentiment indexes are useful indicators of current and future spending but are only available with a lag or have a short history. A new Daily News Sentiment Index provides a way to measure sentiment in real time from 1980 to today. Compared with survey-based measures of consumer sentiment, this index shows an earlier and more pronounced drop in sentiment in recent weeks.
The Coronavirus Shock Looks More like a Natural Disaster than a Cyclical Downturn
It’s tempting to compare the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic to prior business cycle downturns, particularly the Great Recession. However, such comparisons may not be particularly apt—as evidenced by the unprecedented surge in initial jobless claims over the past three weeks. Recessions typically develop gradually over time, reflecting underlying economic and financial conditions, whereas the current economic situation developed suddenly as a consequence of a fast-moving global pandemic. A more appropriate comparison would be to a regional economy suffering the effects of a ...
The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Fed’s Response
The Federal Reserve has taken unprecedented actions to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. households and businesses. These measures include cutting the Fed’s policy rate to the zero lower bound, purchasing Treasury and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to promote market functioning, and establishing several liquidity and credit facilities. In this post, we briefly review the developments motivating these actions, summarize what the Fed has done and why, and compare the Fed’s response with its response to the 2007-09 financial crisis.
W(h)ither U.S. Crude Oil Production?
People across the world have cut back sharply on travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home and cancelling vacations and other nonessential travel. Industrial activity is also off sharply. These forces are translating into an unprecedented collapse in global oil demand. The nature of the decline means that demand is unlikely to respond to the steep drop in oil prices, so supply will have to fall in tandem. The rapid increase in U.S. oil production of recent years was already looking difficult to sustain before the pandemic, as evidenced by the limited profitability of the sector. ...
Translating Weekly Jobless Claims into Monthly Net Job Losses
News headlines highlighting the loss of at least 30 million jobs (so far) underscore the massive shock that has hit the U.S. economy and the dislocation, hardship, and stress it has caused for so many American workers. But how accurately does this number actually capture the number of net job losses? In this post, we look at some of the statistical anomalies and quirks in the weekly claims series and offer a guide to interpreting these numbers. What we find is that the relationship between jobless claims and payroll employment for the month can vary substantially, depending on the nature, ...
Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak, Consumers Temper Spending Outlook
The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data released results today from its April 2020 SCE Household Spending Survey, which provides information on consumers' experiences and expectations regarding household spending. These data have been collected every four months since December 2014 as part of our Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE). Given the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the April survey, which was fielded between April 2 and 30, unsurprisingly shows a number of sharp changes in consumers’ spending behavior and outlook, which we review in this post.
The Money Market Fund Liquidity Facility
Over the first three weeks of March, as uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic increased, prime and municipal (muni) money market funds (MMFs) faced large redemption pressures. Similarly to past episodes of industry dislocation, such as the 2008 financial crisis and the 2011 European bank crisis, outflows from prime and muni MMFs were mirrored by large inflows into government MMFs, which have historically been seen by investors as a safe haven in times of crisis. In this post, we describe a liquidity facility established by the Federal Reserve in response to these outflows.
Can Pandemic-Induced Job Uncertainty Stimulate Automation?
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the future of work. The pandemic may become recurrent, necessitating repeated adoptions of social distancing measures (voluntary or mandatory), creating substantial uncertainty about worker productivity. But robots are not susceptible to the virus. Thus, pandemic-induced job uncertainty may boost the incentive for automation. However, elevated uncertainty also reduces aggregate demand and reduces the value of new investment in automation. We assess the importance of automation in driving business cycle dynamics following an increase in job ...
Consumers Increasingly Expect Additional Government Support amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data released results today from its April 2020 SCE Public Policy Survey, which provides information on consumers' expectations regarding future changes to a wide range of fiscal and social insurance policies and the potential impact of these changes on their households. These data have been collected every four months since October 2015 as part of our Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE). Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, households face significant uncertainty about their personal situations and the general economic environment when forming ...
An Unemployment Crisis after the Onset of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the U.S. labor market, with massive job losses and a spike in unemployment to its highest level since the Great Depression. How long unemployment will remain at crisis levels is highly uncertain and will depend on the speed and success of coronavirus containment measures. Historical patterns of monthly flows in and out of unemployment, adjusted for unique aspects of the coronavirus economy, can help in assessing potential paths of unemployment. Unless hiring rises to unprecedented levels, unemployment could remain severely elevated well into next year.