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

Discussion Paper
Educational opportunity and income inequality

Affordable higher education is, and has been, a key element of social policy in the United States with broad bipartisan support. Financial aid has substantially increased the number of people who complete university?generally thought to be a good thing. We show, however, that making education more affordable can increase income inequality. The mechanism that drives our results is a combination of credit constraints and the ?signaling? role of education first explored by Spence (1973). When borrowing for education is difficult, lack of a college education could mean that one is either of low ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 04-5

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
Social Security and unsecured debt

Most young households simultaneously hold both unsecured debt on which they pay an average of 10 percent interest and social security wealth on which they earn less than 2 percent. We document this fact using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We then consider a life-cycle model with ?tempted? households, who find it impossible to commit to an optimal consumption plan and ?disciplined? households who have no such problem, and we explore ways to reduce this inefficiency. We show that allowing households to use social security wealth to pay off debt while exempting young households ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 04-10

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

Discussion Paper
Economic distress and resurgence in U.S. central cities: concepts, causes, and policy levers

This paper provides a review of the literature on U.S. central city growth and distress during the second half of the twentieth century. It finds that city growth tended to be higher in metropolitan areas with favorable weather, higher growth, and greater human capital, while distress was strongly correlated with city-level manufacturing legacy. The article affirms that distress has been highly persistent, but that some cities have achieved resurgence through a combination of strong leadership, collaboration across sectors and institutions, clear and broad-based strategies, and significant ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 13-3

Discussion Paper
$1.25 Trillion is still real money : some facts about the effects of the Federal Reserve’s mortgage market investments

This paper measures the effects on the primary U.S. mortgage market of the large-scale asset purchase (LSAP) program in which the Federal Reserve bought $1.25 trillion of mortgage-backed securities in 2009 and 2010. We use an event-study approach and measure the movements in both prices and quantities around the initial announcement of the LSAP and subsequent changes to the program. We use a new dataset to document the changes in the menu of rates and points offered to borrowers and show that there was wide dispersion in the rate changes generated by the announcement of the LSAP program, with ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 10-4

Discussion Paper
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 ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 10-1

Discussion Paper
When does delinquency result in neglect?: mortgage delinquency and property maintenance

Studies of foreclosure externalities have overwhelmingly focused on the impact of forced sales on the value of nearby properties, typically finding modest evidence of foreclosure spillovers. However, many quality-of-life issues posed by foreclosures may not be reflected in nearby sale prices. This paper uses new data from Boston on constituent complaints and requests for public services made to City government departments, matched with loan-level data, to examine the timing of foreclosure externalities. I find evidence that property conditions suffer most while homes are bank owned, although ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 13-1

Discussion Paper
The Supplemental Security Income Program and welfare reform

Over the past 20 years, the Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI), which provides federally funded income support for disabled individuals, has become one of the most important means-tested cash aid programs in the United States. However, little research has examined the determinants of growth in SSI caseloads across states and over time. In this paper I use state panel data, exploiting variation both across states and over time, to determine what factors determine SSI disabled caseloads. I examine the relative importance of a number of factors, including economic conditions, health ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 12-3

Discussion Paper
Deciding to distrust

We employ experiments to illustrate one factor contributing to the lack of distrust in the recent corporate scandals: Trust rather than no trust was the default. People are more trusting when the default is full trust than when it is no trust. We introduce a new game, the distrust game (DTG), where the default is full trust and find that in it, trust levels are higher than in the Berg, Dickhaut, and McCabe (1995) trust game (TG), where the default is no trust. At the same time, trustworthiness levels are lower in the DTG than in the TG. Agents (second movers) punish distrust more in the DTG ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 05-4

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