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Bank:Federal Reserve Bank of Boston  Series:Current Policy Perspectives 

Racial Differences in Mortgage Refinancing, Distress, and Housing Wealth Accumulation during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated racial disparities in U.S. mortgage markets. Black, Hispanic, and Asian borrowers were significantly more likely than white borrowers to miss payments due to financial distress, and significantly less likely to refinance to take advantage of the large decline in interest rates spurred by the Federal Reserve’s large-scale mortgage-backed security (MBS) purchase program. The wide-scale forbearance program, introduced by the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provided approximately equal payment relief to all distressed borrowers, ...
Current Policy Perspectives

How Did the MSLP Borrowers Fare Before and During COVID-19?

This policy brief uses Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) data to assess whether the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) borrowers were in worse financial health than their peers before COVID-19 hit the economy hard in March 2020 or suffered worse deterioration afterward. The findings can help us better understand why these firms sought to obtain MSLP loans. We find that MSLP borrowers tend to be larger than their peer firms (that is, firms in the same industry and state). Within the same size group, MSLP borrowers are on average younger than their peers. Borrowers tended to have a slightly higher ...
Current Policy Perspectives

How do speed and security influence consumers' payment behavior?

The Federal Reserve Financial Services (FRFS) strategic plan for 2012-2016 named improvements in the end-to-end speed and security of the payment system as two of its policy initiatives. End-to-end in this context means that for the first time end-users are explicitly included. Earlier versions of the strategy plan were circulated for public comment, and the feedback received by FRFS specifically identified a need for further research. This brief draws upon new data from the 2013 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice and employs econometric modeling and simulation to complement FRFS-commissioned ...
Current Policy Perspectives , Paper 15-1

Uptake of the Main Street Lending Program

The Main Street Lending Program (Main Street) was one of several new credit facilities launched by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Reserve published draft terms for Main Street on April 9, 2020, and the program started purchasing loan participations on July 6, 2020, with the goal of supporting lending to a wide range of small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the program’s draft terms were first circulated, pandemic-related ...
Current Policy Perspectives

Rhode Island in the Great Recession: factors contributing to its sharp downturn and slow recovery

This paper seeks to discover why Rhode Island experienced a more severe downturn during the Great Recession than any other New England state and why it continues to lag other states in the region and the nation as a whole in some measures of labor market health.
Current Policy Perspectives , Paper 14-9

Lessons Learned from Mortgage Borrower Policies and Outcomes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This article reviews the aid offered to the roughly 50 million homeowners with mortgages included in a forbearance program, and the Federal Reserve’s actions that pushed down mortgage rates, allowing many mortgage holders to reduce their monthly payments by refinancing. We deem these policies to be quite effective in relieving financial distress and allowing homeowners to stay in their homes, especially in contrast with the policies pursued during the Great Recession. We emphasize that these policies in part worked because of rising housing prices and home equity, before and during the ...
Current Policy Perspectives

Are the Demand and Supply Channels of Inflation Persistent? Evidence from a Novel Decomposition of PCE Inflation

Using highly disaggregated personal consumption expenditures data, I analyze whether the recent inflation run-up is explained by supply shocks more than by demand shocks, and whether these demand and supply shocks are likely persistent or transitory. I develop a new decomposition method that enables me to classify inflation in disaggregated consumption categories as being driven predominantly by persistent supply shocks, transitory supply shocks, transitory demand shocks, or persistent demand shocks. Similar to other recent analyses, this brief finds that both demand and supply shocks are ...
Current Policy Perspectives

Relative pay, productivity, and labor supply

Relative pay ? earnings compared with the earnings of others doing a similar job, or compared with one?s earnings in the past ? affects how much individuals would like to work (labor supply) and their effort on the job; it therefore has implications for both employers and policy makers. A collection of recent studies shows that relative pay information, even when it is irrelevant, significantly affects labor supply and effort. This effect stems mainly from those who compare unfavorably, as essentially all studies find that awareness of earning less than others or less than in the past ...
Current Policy Perspectives , Paper 17-2

Corporate Debt Maturity and Monetary Policy

Do firms lengthen the maturity of their borrowing following a flattening of the Treasury yield curve that results from monetary policy operations? We explore this question separately for the years before and during the zero lower bound (ZLB) period, recognizing that the same change in the yield curve slope signifies different states of the economy and monetary policy over the two regimes. We find that the answer is robustly yes for the pre-ZLB period: Firms extended the maturity of their bond issuance by nearly three years in response to a policy-induced reduction of 1 percentage point in the ...
Current Policy Perspectives

Informal work in the United States: evidence from survey responses

"Informal" work refers to temporary or occasional side jobs from which earnings are presumably not reported in full to the Internal Revenue Service and which typically do not constitute a dominant or complete source of income. Perhaps the most important reason for undertaking informal work is to offset negative income and employment shocks, such as reduced hours in a formal job, stagnant wages, or involuntary unemployment. Such negative shocks affected many Americans during the Great Recession, so it is important to determine the extent to which people engaged in informal work during this ...
Current Policy Perspectives , Paper 14-13




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