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Bank:Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond  Series:Richmond Fed Economic Brief 

Briefing
Relative Price Changes Are Unlikely to Account for Recent High Inflation

March 2021 marked the first month of the ongoing high inflation episode in the U.S. Last September, I analyzed the first five months of this episode through the lens of the distribution of price changes for all PCE components. A small fraction of expenditures accounted for much of the high inflation in those months. In this Economic Brief, I provide a related analysis and incorporate a new summary statistic for the distribution of relative price changes. In the last four months, high inflation has not been concentrated in a small fraction of expenditures, deviating from the relationship we ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Volume 22 , Issue 10

Briefing
Calculating the Natural Rate of Interest: A Comparison of Two Alternative Approaches

The natural rate of interest is a key concept in monetary economics because its level relative to the real rate of interest allows economists to assess the stance of monetary policy. However, the natural rate of interest cannot be observed; it must be calculated using identifying assumptions. This Economic Brief compares the popular Laubach-Williams approach to calculating the natural rate with an alternative method that imposes fewer theoretical restrictions. Both approaches indicate that the natural rate has been above the real rate for a long time.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue Oct

Briefing
Macroeconomic Effects of Household Pessimism and Optimism

Survey data on households' expectations about macroeconomic outcomes reveal systematic differences from statistical (or rational) forecasts. We construct an empirical measure of these differences, which we refer to as "belief wedges." Across economic variables, such as inflation and unemployment, these belief wedges are significant and move in parallel with the business cycle. We present a theory of time-varying belief wedges that accounts for these empirical facts. Our theory provides a formal interpretation of these wedges as pessimism and optimism. Embedding the theory into a quantitative ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Volume 21 , Issue 03

Briefing
A Rate Cycle Unlike Any Other

Since the Federal Open Market Committee began raising the federal funds rate in March 2022, people have speculated on the trajectory of both monetary policy and the economy. By looking at previous rate cycles, this article compares historical monetary policy cycles with the current period. We find the current cycle to be unique in terms of both the speed at which interest rates rose and the movement of inflation during the series of rate hikes.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Volume 23 , Issue 26

Briefing
How Do Employers Recruit New Workers?

Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Volume 21 , Issue 28

Briefing
Expanding the Scope of Workforce Development

Workforce development efforts often are geared toward adult workers. But examining workforce development from the perspective of human capital theory suggests that earlier interventions may yield high returns.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue May

Briefing
Implications of Risks and Rewards in College Decisions

Despite a large and growing earnings premium for college graduates, growth in college enrollment and especially college attainment in the United States has been quite slow. The labor market's apparent lack of responsiveness to the earnings premium may be driven in part by the risks that marginally prepared students face when they go to college. Failing or dropping out could leave them with low wealth, high debt, and low earnings. Recent research indicates that neither further increases in the earnings premium nor reductions in college costs are likely to produce large increases in the college ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue June

Briefing
The Pandemic's Impact on Unemployment and Labor Force Participation Trends

Following early 2020 responses to the pandemic, labor force participation declined dramatically and has remained below its 2019 level, whereas the unemployment rate recovered briskly. We estimate the trend of labor force participation and unemployment and find a substantial impact of the pandemic on estimates of trend. It turns out that levels of labor force participation and unemployment in 2021 were approaching their estimated trends. A return to 2019 levels would then represent a tight labor market, especially relative to long-run demographic trends that suggest further declines in the ...
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Volume 22 , Issue 12

Briefing
Does the Unemployment Rate Really Overstate Labor Market Recovery?

Unemployment rose dramatically during the 2007-09 recession, peaking at 10 percent in October 2009. It has fallen steadily since then, at times outpacing economists' forecasts. In April, unemployment reached 6.3 percent, about two-thirds of the way back to its prerecession level. Such progress is often a sign of recovery, but some observers question whether the unemployment rate accurately measures resource utilization in the current labor market.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue June

Briefing
Reforming Money Market Mutual Funds: A Difficult Assignment

The money market mutual fund (MMMF) industry was one of many segments of the financial sector that experienced significant volatility during the 2007?08 financial crisis. Reform efforts have been underway to make the industry more resilient to shocks, but proposals have been controversial. This Economic Brief explores some of the key issues and sheds light on why reforming this industry has been so challenging.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue Feb

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