Person-to-person electronic funds transfers: recent developments and policy issues
The paper investigates the reasons why person-to-person electronic funds transfers are still not very common in the United States compared with practices in many other countries. The paper also describes recent enhancements to online and mobile banking that provide account holders with low-cost interfaces to manage person-to-person electronic funds transfers via automated clearing house (ACH). On the theoretical side, the paper characterizes the critical mass levels needed for payment instruments to become widely adopted. Given the Fed's long-term heavy involvement in check clearing, the ...
Negative equity and foreclosure: theory and evidence
Millions of Americans have negative housing equity, meaning that the outstanding balance on their mortgage exceeds their home?s current market value. Our data show that the overwhelming majority of these households will not lose their homes. Our finding is consistent with historical evidence: we examine more than 100,000 homeowners in Massachusetts who had negative equity during the early 1990s and find that fewer than 10 percent of these owners eventually lost their home to foreclosure. This result is also, contrary to popular belief, completely consistent with economic theory, which ...
The 2008 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice
This paper presents the 2008 version of the Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC), a nationally representative survey developed by the Consumer Payments Research Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and implemented by the RAND Corporation with its American Life Panel. The survey fills a gap in knowledge about the role of consumers in the transformation of payments from paper to electronic by providing a broad-based assessment of U.S. consumers' adoption and use of nine payment instruments, including cash. The average consumer has 5.1 of the nine instruments, and uses 4.2 in a ...
Quantifying the role of federal and state taxes in mitigating income inequality
Income inequality has risen dramatically in the United States since at least 1980. This paper quantifies the role that the tax policies of the federal and state governments have played in mitigating this income inequality. The analysis, which isolates the contribution of federal taxes and state taxes separately, employs two approaches. First, cross-sectional estimates compare before-tax and after-tax inequality across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Second, inequality estimates across time are calculated to assess the evolution of the effects of tax policies. The results from the ...
Reviving mortgage securitization: lessons from the Brady Plan and duration analysis
We review the period of the Latin American debt crisis in order to draw policy analogies from that experience for current U.S. credit securitization markets. During the earlier episode the Brady Plan used a zero-coupon U.S. Treasury security to provide a credit enhancement for the troubled assets. This revitalized the market for Latin American debt by: (1) ameliorating the dual solvency problem that affected both creditors and debtors, and (2) revealing asset prices as dominated by risk fundamentals rather than by short-run factors. The cost of the Brady plan was quite small relative to its ...
Subprime facts: what (we think) we know about the subprime crisis and what we don’t
Using a variety of datasets, we document some basic facts about the current subprime crisis. Many of these facts are applicable to the crisis at a national level, while some illustrate problems relevant only to Massachusetts and New England. We conclude by discussing some outstanding questions about which the data, we believe, are not yet conclusive.
A profile of the mortgage crisis in a low-and-moderate-income community
This paper assesses the impact of the mortgage crisis on Chelsea, Massachusetts, a low-and-moderate-income community of 35,000 adjacent to Boston. After years of rapid growth, house prices started falling in 2005. According to our repeat-sales indices, by the end of 2009 prices had fallen by as much as 50 percent from their peak. Foreclosures have soared and lenders have repossessed or allowed short sales on more than 330 homes, resulting in a forced exit of at least one in 30 of the town's households. A large fraction of the foreclosed properties were two- or three-family homes, so the ...
Making sense of the subprime crisis
This paper explores the question of whether market participants could have or should have anticipated the large increase in foreclosures that occurred in 2007 and 2008. Most of these foreclosures stem from loans originated in 2005 and 2006, leading many to suspect that lenders originated a large volume of extremely risky loans during this period. However, the authors show that while loans originated in this period did carry extra risk factors, particularly increased leverage, underwriting standards alone cannot explain the dramatic rise in foreclosures. Focusing on the role of house prices, ...
Wives' work and family income mobility
Over the past 30 years, married women in the United States have significantly increased their labor market activity and become an integral factor in their families? ongoing economic wellbeing. This change raises questions about the economic impact of two-earner families becoming the norm. Do American families now need both a working husband and a working wife to have any hope of getting ahead or to keep from falling behind? How much does a wife?s labor market activity (participation, hours, and earnings) matter in her family?s ability to make income gains, hold its place relative to other ...
Do bank mergers affect Federal Reserve check volume?
The recent decline in the Federal Reserve?s check volumes has received a lot of attention. Although switching to electronic payments methods and electronic check-processing has been credited for much of that decline, some of it could be caused by changes following bank mergers involving Federal Reserve customer banks. This paper evaluates the effect of bank mergers on Federal Reserve check-processing volumes. ; Using inflow-outflow and regression methods, we find that mergers between two or more Reserve Bank customers have resulted in volume losses, especially during the first quarter ...