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Digital Currency, Digital Payments, and the 'Last Mile' to the Unbanked
Digital forms of payment are either not accessible or highly costly for unbanked consumers. This is because these forms of payment must be "funded" by some source of money, such as cash or a bank account. That creates the "last-mile" problem for the unbanked. This article examines various solutions for the funding problem that have been proposed in the literature, by regulators, and in bills submitted to Congress.
The Impact of the Pandemic on US Businesses: New Results from the Annual Business Survey
Working with Federal Reserve staff, the US Census Bureau added to the 2021 Annual Business Survey (ABS) a special module of questions focused on the pandemic and small business finances. Questions ranged from the impact of the pandemic on business sales, to government assistance requested/received, and to the financial health of the firm. In this article, we report the results of these questions—and how they differ by race and ethnicity. The survey finds that more than 60 percent of business experienced declines in sales. Fully one-third experienced significant declines. More than 70 ...
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 ...
Will Wage Growth Alone Get Workers Back Into the Labor Market? Not Likely.
This article finds that compared to baby boomers of the same age, millennials' labor force participation decisions are only about three-quarters as responsive to wage changes, and Generation X's participation decisions are only about half as responsive. These differences are not good news for employers trying to coax workers back into the labor market during a robust pandemic recovery. Using the most recent estimates, from 2019 data, the latest 6 percent year-over-year increase in average hourly pay reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is expected to only close 16 percent of ...
The Term Structure of the Excess Bond Premium: Measures and Implications
In this article, we construct daily aggregate as well as short-, medium-, and long-term "excess bond premium" (EBP) measures using a widely available corporate bond database (known as "TRACE"). The novel EBP measures we construct provide an important gauge of strains in the financial sector at different horizons. We find that the short-term EBP measure increased more dramatically at the peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2007–09 global financial crisis, but the pattern was reversed around the interest rate liftoff at the end of 2015.
Where Are They Now? Workers with Young Children during COVID-19
Employment levels for prime-age workers have been greatly reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decline has fallen disproportionately on females, especially compared to past recessions, and the presence of young children is a driving factor in this differential response. This article identifies the impact of gender, young children, and the presence of a spouse on the attachment to employment for individuals who were employed immediately prior to the pandemic. Compared to the Great Recession and the most recent expansionary period in 2019, women with young children have a relatively lower ...
So Far, So Good: Government Insurance of Financial Sector Tail Risk
The US government has intervened to provide extraordinary support 16 times from 1970 to 2020 with the goal of preventing or mitigating (or both) the cost of financial instability to the financial sector and the real economy. This article discusses the motivation for such support, reviewing the instances where support was provided, along with one case where it was expected but not provided. The article then discusses the moral hazard and fiscal risks posed by the government's insurance of the tail risk along with ways to reduce the government's risk exposure.
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, ...
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 ...
Heat versus Light: Fact-Checking the Debate over De-Risking
In this article, we examine the evidence for claims about the connection between bank derisking and anti–money laundering (AML) regulation. Specifically, we examine evidence for the claim that the cost of increased AML compliance and increasing bank fines have led to banks exiting entire sectors or geographical regions and that this de-risking is deeply damaging to economies. We draw on multiple sources of evidence, including financial flow data, discourse and social media analysis, an evidentiary history, elite interviews, and participant observation. In the end, we find that substantial ...