Racial Differences in Mortgage Refinancing, Distress, and Housing Wealth Accumulation during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic was characterized by both high refinancing volumes and high rates of mortgage nonpayment. Refinancing activity differed significantly across racial and ethnic groups, and we show that the benefits from the lower interest rate environment were not shared equally. Compared to white borrowers, Black and Hispanic mortgage borrowers experienced higher rates of nonpayment, which reflected both a greater transition into nonpayment status for Black and Hispanic borrowers and a lower likelihood of resuming payments. However, strong house price appreciation in recent years, ...
Bank Supervisory Goals versus Monetary Policy Implementation
The global financial crisis of 2007–09 revealed substantial weaknesses in large banks' capital adequacy and liquidity. Bank regulators responded with a variety of prudential measures intended to strengthen both. However, these prudential measures resulted in conflicts with the implementation of monetary policy that helped alter the way the Federal Reserve conducts monetary policy. I review three such conflicts: regulation inhibiting interest on excess reserves arbitrage starting in 2008, regulation inhibiting banks' operations in the repo market in 2019, and regulation inhibiting their ...
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, ...
Wage Pressures in the Labor Market: What Do They Say?
Wage pressures among the newly employed in low-wage service occupations appear to be the result of normal economic forces, likely reflecting demand surges for—and a reluctant supply of—workers in occupations particularly hard hit by pandemic-induced economic shutdowns.
Unstable Coins: The Early History of Central Bank Analog Currencies
Recently, there has been much discussion as to whether central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) should be introduced, and if so, how they should be designed. This article offers a historical perspective on this discussion, with a survey of early public bank (proto-central bank) "analog currencies"—circulating banknotes. Public banknotes were an experimental product when they were first issued in sixteenth-century Naples, but by the late nineteenth century, such notes could be found in most European countries. In between came all sorts of implementation difficulties: egregious insider fraud, ...
The Phillips Curve during the Pandemic: Bringing Regional Data to Bear
The Phillips curve appears to have held up well at the regional level during the COVID-19 era. Areas of the country that took relatively large hits to their unemployment rate and employment-population ratio during the pandemic have had lower inflation, on average, than areas that took relatively small hits. And, just as prior to the pandemic, the inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment continues to be statistically stronger for the prices of services than of goods.The Phillips curve appears to have held up well at the regional level during the COVID-19 era. Areas of the ...
Evaluating the Benefits of a Streamlined Refinance Program
Mortgage borrowers who have experienced employment disruptions as a result of theCOVID-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.
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.
Who Benefited Most from the CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Provisions?
The regular unemployment insurance (UI) program in the United States requires workers to have a minimum amount of earnings as well as a sufficient work history before unemployment. Low-wage workers are more likely to have a short work history before unemployment because they are more likely to be separated from their jobs. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act temporarily eliminated the requirements for minimum past earnings and length of employment, thus making many low-wage workers who were ineligible for UI under the regular program temporarily eligible. The extra ...
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 ...