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Bank:Federal Reserve Bank of Boston  Series:Public Policy Discussion Paper 

Discussion Paper
The Boston Fed study of consumer behavior and payment choice: a survey of Federal Reserve System employees

The way people pay for goods and services is changing dramatically, but little data and research on consumer behavior and payment choice are publicly available. This paper describes the results of a survey of payment behavior and attitudes taken by Federal Reserve employees in 2004. Major contributions of the survey are that it asks: 1) why payment choices are made; 2) why individual payment behavior has changed; and 3) why individual-specific payment characteristics matter for payment choice. Although the survey is not statistically representative of U.S. consumers, and thus may not provide ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 07-1

Discussion Paper
Selection into financial literacy programs: evidence from a field study

As financial literacy has been shown to correlate with good financial decisions, policymakers promote educational programs to improve individuals? financial decisions. But who selects into educational programs and who acquires information about personal finance? This paper, in a field study with more than 870 individuals, offers individuals free information about their credit reports (and credit scores). About 55 percent choose to participate in this small counseling program. To test whether those who self-select to acquire information about personal finance differ from those who do not on ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 07-5

Discussion Paper
Eyes on the prize: how did the Fed respond to the stock market?

The appropriate role for equity prices in monetary policy deliberations has been hotly debated for some time. Recent work suggests that equity prices have affected monetary policy decisions above and beyond their indirect effect on the traditional goal variables of the FOMC. However, the correlation between stock price movements and these other goal variables has made the identification of the equity price effect problematic. Previous studies have used a forecast that embodies a different information set from the one used by the FOMC, which could bias the estimated coefficient on equity ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 04-2

Discussion Paper
Jobs in Springfield, Massachusetts: understanding and remedying the causes of low resident employment rates

As part of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's commitment to supporting efforts to revitalize the economy of Springfield, Massachusetts, this paper explores the causes of and potential remedies for the city's low resident employment rates. When compared to the state as a whole and to other midsize New England cities, the share of employed city residents is low, particularly for residents of downtown Springfield and its nearby neighborhoods. By analyzing the availability of jobs across Springfield's various neighborhoods and in nearby towns and cities, this paper's goal is to learn why so few ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 09-11

Discussion Paper
Financial development, financial constraints, and the volatility of industrial output

More financially developed countries show lower volatility of industrial output. Volatility is particularly reduced in industries that are more financially dependent. Most of the reduction is in idiosyncratic volatility. Systematic volatility is reduced less strongly, implying that industries are more closely correlated with GDP in more financially developed countries. At the firm level, short-term debt is negatively correlated with output as financial development increases, suggesting that debt is used in a countercyclical way to stabilize production. The results indicate that financial ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 04-6

Discussion Paper
Wealth shocks and macroeconomic dynamics

The effect of wealth on consumption is an issue of longstanding interest to economists. Analysts believe that fluctuations in household wealth have driven major swings in economic activity. This paper considers so-called wealth effects?the impact of changes in wealth on household consumption and the overall macroeconomy. There is an extensive existing literature on wealth effects, but there are also many unanswered issues and questions. This paper reviews the important issues regarding the role wealth plays in the macroeconomy and argues that there is a need for much more wealth effect ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 13-4

Discussion Paper
Why don’t most merchants use price discounts to steer consumer payment choice?

Recent legislation and court settlements in the United States allow merchants to use price discounts to steer customers to pay with means of payment that are less costly to merchants. This paper suggests one method of calculating merchants? change in profit associated with giving price discounts to buyers who pay with debit cards and cash. We use data from the pilot of the Boston Fed?s Diary of Consumer Payment Choice to compute rough estimates of the expected net cost reduction by merchant type that may result from debit card and cash price discounts. We find that steering consumers to debit ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 12-9

Discussion Paper
Foreclosure externalities: some new evidence

In a recent set of influential papers, researchers have argued that residential mortgage foreclosures reduce the sale prices of nearby properties. We revisit this issue using a more robust identification strategy combined with new data that contain information on the location of properties secured by seriously delinquent mortgages and information on the condition of foreclosed properties. We find that while properties in virtually all stages of distress have statistically significant, negative effects on nearby home values, the magnitudes are economically small, peak before the distressed ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 12-5

Discussion Paper
Why did so many people make so many ex post bad decisions?: the causes of the foreclosure crisis

This paper presents 12 facts about the mortgage market. The authors argue that the facts refute the popular story that the crisis resulted from financial industry insiders deceiving uninformed mortgage borrowers and investors. Instead, they argue that borrowers and investors made decisions that were rational and logical given their ex post overly optimistic beliefs about house prices. The authors then show that neither institutional features of the mortgage market nor financial innovations are any more likely to explain those distorted beliefs than they are to explain the Dutch tulip bubble ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 12-2

Discussion Paper
Mobile payments in the United States at retail point of sale: current market and future prospects

Although mobile payments are increasingly used in some countries, they have not been adopted widely in the United States so far, despite their potential to add value for consumers and streamline the payments system. After describing a few countries? experiences, we analyze the prospects for the U.S. market for mobile payments in retail payments, particularly the use of contactless and near-field communication technologies. We identify conditions that have facilitated some success in other countries and barriers to the adoption of mobile payments in the United States. On the demand side, ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 10-2

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