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

Discussion Paper
Is monetary policy overburdened?

Following the experience of the global financial crisis, central banks have been asked to undertake unprecedented responsibilities. Governments and the public appear to have high expectations that monetary policy can provide solutions to problems that do not necessarily fit in the realm of traditional monetary policy. This paper examines three broad public policy goals that may overburden monetary policy: full employment; fiscal sustainability; and financial stability. While central banks have a crucial position in public policy, the appropriate policy mix also involves other institutions, ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 13-8

Discussion Paper
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, ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 09-1

Discussion Paper
The role of banks in the transmission of monetary policy

The transmission of monetary policy, especially in light of recent events, has received increased attention, especially with respect to the efficacy of the bank lending channel. This paper summarizes the issues associated with isolating the bank lending channel and determining the extent to which it is operational. Evidence on the effectiveness of the bank lending channel is presented, both in the United States and abroad. The paper then provides observations about the likely consequences for the effectiveness of the lending channel of the changes in the financial environment associated with ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 13-5

Discussion Paper
Adopting, using, and discarding paper and electronic payment instruments: variation by age and race

This paper uses data from the 2008 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice to discuss the adoption, use, and discarding of various common payment instruments. Using a nationally representative sample of individual-level data, it presents evidence in unparalleled detail about how consumers use different payment instruments. Most interestingly, it displays robust evidence of significant age- and race-related differences in payments choices. Among other things, it suggests that the range of payment instruments adopted and regularly used by blacks is narrower than that chosen by whites, presumably ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 11-2

Discussion Paper
Who gains and who loses from credit card payments?: theory and calibrations

Merchant fees and reward programs generate an implicit monetary transfer to credit card users from non-card (or ?cash?) users because merchants generally do not set differential prices for card users to recoup the costs of fees and rewards. On average, each cash-using household pays $151 to card-using households and each card-using household receives $1,482 from cash users every year. Because credit card spending and rewards are positively correlated with household income, the payment instrument transfer also induces a regressive transfer from low-income to high-income households in general. ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 10-3

Discussion Paper
Labor-market polarization over the business cycle

During the last few decades, labor markets in advanced economies have become ?polarized? as relative labor demand grows for high- and low-skill workers while it declines for middle-skill workers. This paper explores how polarization has interacted with the U.S. business cycle since the late 1970s. Consistent with previous work, the authors find that recessions are strongly synchronized across workers with different skills. Even high-skill workers favored by polarization suffer during recessions; this is particularly true during the last two downturns. Additionally, there is no evidence that ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 12-8

Discussion Paper
The 2009 survey of consumer payment choice

This paper presents results of the 2009 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC), along with revised 2008 SCPC data. In 2009, the average U.S. consumer held 5.0 of the nine payment instruments available, including cash, and used 3.8 of them during a typical month. Between the 2008 and 2009 surveys, a period that includes the trough of the latest recession, consumers significantly increased their use of cash and close substitutes for cash, such as money orders and prepaid cards. At the same time, consumers reduced their use of credit cards and (to a lesser extent) debit cards, as well as ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 11-1

Discussion Paper
Subprime mortgages, foreclosures, and urban neighborhoods

This paper analyzes the impact of the subprime crisis on urban neighborhoods in Massachusetts. The topic is explored using a dataset that matches race and income information from HMDA with property-level, transaction data from Massachusetts registry of deeds offices. With these data, we show that much of the subprime lending in the state was concentrated in urban neighborhoods and that minority homeownerships created with subprime mortgages have proven exceptionally unstable in the face of rapid price declines. The evidence from Massachusetts suggests that subprime lending did not, as is ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 08-6

Discussion Paper
Collateralized borrowing and life-cycle portfolio choice

We examine the effects of collateralized borrowing in a realistically parameterized life-cycle portfolio choice problem. We provide basic intuition in a two-period model and then solve a multi-period model computationally. Our analysis provides insights into life-cycle portfolio choice relevant for researchers in macroeconomics and finance. In particular, we show that standard models with unlimited borrowing at the riskless rate dramatically overstate the gains to holding equity when compared with collateral-constrained models. Our results do not depend on the specification of the ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 06-4

Discussion Paper
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.
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 08-2

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