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2018 Economic Commentaries

  • The Evolution of the Labor Share across Developed Countries

    Roberto Pinheiro Meifeng Yang


    In most developed countries, the share of output accruing to labor has declined over the last 20 years. However, the underlying reasons for the decrease may have differed in the United States and other developed countries. In this Commentary, we examine some of the explanations economists have proposed for the decline in the labor share and discuss how well these explanations account for the decline across developed countries. Read More

  • Parental Assistance after Job Loss

    Patrick Coate Pawel Krolikowski Mike Zabek


    We have previously shown that young adults who live near their parents experience faster earnings recoveries after a job loss than young adults who live farther from their parents. In this analysis, we present evidence that demonstrates the relationship is causal; that is, there is something about living close to one’s parents that enables one to find another job that pays as well as the one lost. We also explore what type of parental help might be driving the relationship and find that it is possibly the provision of childcare and access to job networks, but likely not help with housing expenses. Read More

  • Can Yield Curve Inversions Be Predicted?

    Kurt G. Lunsford


    An inverted Treasury yield curve—a yield curve where short-term Treasury interest rates are higher than long-term Treasury interest rates—is a good predictor of recessions. Because of this, economists and policymakers often assess the risk of a yield curve inversion when the yield curve is flattening. I study the forecastability of yield curve inversions. Professional forecasters did not predict the beginning of the yield curve inversions prior to the 1990–1991, 2001, and 2008–2009 recessions. In all three cases, professional forecasters failed to predict the magnitude of the rise in short-term interest rates. Prior to the 2008–2009 recession, forecasters also overpredicted long-term interest rates. Read More

  • An Assessment of the ISM Manufacturing Price Index for Inflation Forecasting

    Mark Bognanni Tristan Young


    The Institute for Supply Management produces a measure of pricing trends, the manufacturing price index or ISMPI, that is constructed from its periodic surveys of purchasing and supply executives. We investigate this measure’s predictive content for producer and consumer price inflation by assessing its ability to improve inflation forecasts for three broad monthly inflation measures. We find that the ISMPI has some predictive content for producer prices but not for consumer prices. Read More

  • College Endowments

    Peter L. Hinrichs


    This Economic Commentary documents the large dispersion in the value of college endowments across institutions and also shows how endowment values have changed over time. It also provides information on the number of institutions that may be affected by the new federal "endowment tax" and how that number may fluctuate over time. Read More

  • Are the New Basel III Capital Buffers Countercyclical? Exploring the Option of a Rule-Based Countercyclical Buffer

    Filippo Occhino


    Countercyclical capital regulation can reduce the procyclicality of the banking system and dampen aggregate economic fluctuations. I describe two new capital buffers introduced in Basel III and discuss why their countercyclical effects may be small. If over time regulators want to increase the degree of countercyclicality of capital regulation, they might consider adopting a rule-based countercyclical buffer, that is, a buffer that is automatically lowered during recessions according to a rule. I present a conservative example of such a rule and its effects on capital requirements over the business cycle. Read More

  • Using Economic Experiments to Improve Contingent Convertible Capital Bonds

    Edward S. Prescott Douglas Davis


    This Commentary describes experiments conducted to study alternative designs for a new type of financial security, CoCo bonds, that is being used in some European countries to manage the risk of financial crises. CoCo bonds are bank-issued debt that converts to equity when a trigger is breached. The conversion into equity serves to recapitalize a bank during financial distress, precisely when it is hardest to raise capital. The types of trigger used for all CoCos issued thus far are defined in terms of book capital. The experiments we conducted explore the effects of using triggers that are based on market prices. Read More

  • Labor Market Tightness across the United States since the Great Recession

    Murat Tasci Caitlin Treanor


    Though labor market statistics are often reported and discussed at the national level, conditions can vary quite a bit across individual states. We explore differences in these conditions before and after the Great Recession using a ratio of the number of unemployed workers to job vacancies. We show that the intensity of the adverse effects of the recession and the strength of the recovery varied geographically at all points in the process. We also demonstrate that wage growth is delayed until the ratio of unemployed workers to job vacancies returns to prerecession levels. Read More