Standing Repo Facilities, Then and Now
Recently there have been discussions, both within the FOMC and more broadly, about whether the FOMC should set up a standing repo facility. Such a facility would allow banks to sell safe assets (U.S. Treasury securities) to the Fed, with the assurance of subsequent repurchase, in unlimited quantities at an administered rate. This is not a new idea. In fact, a similar facility was implemented in 1683by the Bank of Amsterdam, the leading central bank of the time, and operated for more than a century afterward. In this article, we describe the motivations, operations, and limitations of the Bank ...
Changes in State Unemployment Insurance Rules during the COVID-19 Outbreak in the U.S.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented expansion in unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility across states. While more than forty states had modified UI rules by the end of March, not all states responded in the same way. In this article, I summarize the changes to state UI rules in response to the crisis and explore factors that have contributed to the variation in states’ responses.
Impacts of COVID-19: Mitigation Efforts versus Herd Immunity
The rapid spread of COVID-19 is having devastating effects on the global economy. With death curves beginning to bend, governments will soon need to determine when and how to relax lockdown measures. The crucial question is: what are the public health consequences of reopening the economy? In this article, we argue that the observed decline in daily deaths could be due to two scenarios: social distancing measures and herd immunity. Both the widely used SIR model and the data collected thus far cannot distinguish these two scenarios. Such an identiﬁcation problem generates a large degree of ...
Why Cash Transfers Are Good Policy in the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an exceptionally large and negative impact on economic activity around the world. We show that cash transfers can be a useful policy tool during a pandemic. Cash transfers mitigate consumption inequality induced by the pandemic and provide incentives to individuals who are most negatively affected by lockdown policies to adhere to them.
Measuring and Managing COVID-19 Model Risk
One of the many lessons learned from the financial crisis is the increased awareness of model risk. In this article, I apply the best practices of model risk management found in SR 11-7 (which offers regulatory guidance on the best practices for managing model risk) to COVID-19 models. In particular, I investigate the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation's (IHME) model to see if it has been effectively challenged with a critical assessment of its conceptual soundness, ongoing monitoring, and outcomes analysis.
Evaluating the Benefits of a Streamlined Refinance Program
Mortgage borrowers who have experienced employment disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are unable to refinance their loans to take advantage of historically low market rates. In this article, we analyze the effects of a streamlined refinance ("refi") program for government-insured loans that would allow borrowers to refinance without needing to document employment or income. In addition, we consider a cash-out component that would allow borrowers to extract some of the substantial amount of housing equity that many have accumulated in recent years.
Wage Growth over Unemployment Spells
This article looks at the wage growth associated with a spell of unemployment during the past three recessions. Our main findings are threefold. First, half of all unemployed workers experience a lower hourly wage once they regain employment. Second, after an unemployment spell, older workers and those without a college degree experience lower wage rowth. Third, workers who regain employment in a different industry than they were in previously tend to experience a substantial wage decline. The analysis suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic not only led to unprecedented job losses, but it could ...
Consumer Behavior in a Health Crisis: What Happened with Cash?
In the United States, COVID-19 cases and currency in circulation both surged in March 2020. Did consumer choice play a role in the increase in currency in circulation? With fewer opportunities to shop and pay in person, why would consumers hold more cash? Data from the fall 2019 Survey and Diary of Consumer Payment Choice and interim rapid-response surveys in spring and late summer 2020 give some insights into consumer cash holdings and payments behavior.
COVID-19 International Evidence: Some Notable Puzzles
This article uses international evidence to argue that we still have limited knowledge about the efficacy of widely used preventive actions, such as social distancing and face masks, in containing the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus. I document three puzzles. One, Peru enacted unprecedented lockdowns early in the pandemic, which led to a record contraction in economic activity. The country’s residents also adopted near-universal face mask usage. None of these actions, however, prevented Peru from experiencing the world’s highest per capita mortality rate from the virus. Second, ...
Assisting Firms during a Crisis: Benefits and Costs
Public and private efforts to reduce COVID-19 infection levels have led to a sharp drop in economic activity around the world. In an attempt to mitigate the damage to businesses, governments around the world have implemented a variety of financial programs to help firms. These programs have been criticized as interfering with markets, providing bailouts, and creating adverse incentives. In this article, I review both the rationale for government-provided assistance and the costs of providing that assistance from the perspective of how that aid effects the likely level and volatility of ...