The Persistent Effects of the Temporary Tightening in Financial Conditions
Market-based measures of uncertainty, a common proxy for broader financial conditions, rose sharply in the fourth quarter of 2018 but have retreated to more normal levels over the last few months. While the recent increase in uncertainty was brief, the temporary tightening in financial conditions will likely have longer-lasting effects on economic activity and prices.
Escaping the Housing Shortage
Despite the continuing economic expansion, home construction remains extremely low by historical benchmarks, constrained by the scarcity of undeveloped land in desired locations and land use regulations. Escaping the resulting housing shortage will take many years and likely require a shift toward multifamily construction, the freeing up of single-family homes by downsizing baby boomers, and the faster relative growth of medium-sized metropolitan areas.
What Has Driven the Recent Increase in Retirements?
During the pandemic, the share of retirees in the U.S. population rose much faster than its normal pace. Typically, an increase in this share is driven by more people transitioning from employment to retirement. However, we show that the recent increase was instead driven by fewer people transitioning from retirement back into employment, likely due to pandemic-related health risks. More retirees may rejoin the workforce as these health risks fade, but the retirement share is unlikely to return to a normal level for some time.
U.S. Business Applications Surge in the Face of COVID-19
Business formation in the United States has been on a decline for several decades. Most prior economic recessions have accelerated this trend. However, the recent economic downturn associated with COVID-19 appears to have had the opposite effect: business formation, as measured by business applications, has actually surged since late May.
COVID-19 Challenges State and Local Government Finances
As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the U.S. economy, state and local governments will not be immune from the pain. In the near term, governments face liquidity challenges, as many tax deadlines have been postponed. In the longer term, governments will experience large revenue declines that may lead to significant budget cuts.
As Manufacturing Weakens, Consumers Pull Back
The United States has faced two recent downturns in manufacturing: one from 2014 to 2015 and one that has been ongoing since 2018. We examine consumption growth at the state level to see how consumers have responded to the current downturn relative to the last. We find that during the current downturn, changes in consumption growth at the state level have been negatively correlated with the state?s share of workers in manufacturing. In contrast, we find the opposite relationship during the 2014?15 downturn.
Lower Labor Force Participation Rates and Slower Population Growth Pose Challenges for Employers
As the nation recovers from the pandemic-induced recession, finding workers to fill job openings has beena headwind for many regions and industries. Although many researchers have pointed to the sharp declinein labor force participation rates as an explanation, the role of population growth over time has receivedless attention. We examine state and national trends in these measures and show that slower populationgrowth and an aging population may put downward pressure on labor force growth for some time.
PPP Raised Community Bank Revenue but Lowered Profitability
Community banks have played an outsized role in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), disbursing 37 percent of all PPP loans despite holding only 18 percent of outstanding bank loans. Although participation boosted community banks’ revenue by supporting asset and interest income growth, it appears to have lowered their profitability, at least initially: low interest rates and deferred fee collection on PPP loans reduced banks’ earning margins.
Dampened Demand for Bank Loans Reflects Supply Bottlenecks, Not a Weakness in the Recovery
Throughout the pandemic, banks have experienced weak business loan demand. Although banks expectdemand to grow as the worst of the pandemic wanes and the economy recovers, loan demand mayremain weak in some industries due to persistent supply chain bottlenecks.
Global Supply Chain Disruptions Can Be Seen Anywhere, but Their Costs Are Not the Same Everywhere
Although ubiquitous, supply chain challenges are exerting more cost pressures on the types of businessesconcentrated in the Tenth Federal Reserve District. Businesses in the region are less willing or able to adjustthe amount of imported goods they purchase even when procurement prices rise precipitously, as they have over the past year.