Policy Discussion Papers

In-depth analysis of monetary and financial policy. Ceased publication with issue No. 29.

2010

No. 29
A Conference on Consumer Protection in Financial Product Markets
Stephan Whitaker
A conference organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland engendered an informative discussion of consumer protection in financial products markets. Anticipating significant changes in financial regulation, the conference asked the question, “How could regulators successfully protect consumers?” It intentionally looked beyond the existing institutions. The first of three panels discussed how consumers gather information and process it to make purchase decisions. Lessons learned from research on food labeling and shopping were discussed. Another panel examined the roles of professionals who guide consumers through a marketplace. Panelists discussed the legal obligations of brokers and rating agencies. The final panel focused on product preapproval processes like the FDA’s regulation of pharmaceuticals and the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s post-market tracking of injuries. This Policy Discussion Paper summarizes the presenters’ material and draws out themes that point a way forward for efficient, competitive financial product markets that are safe for consumers.

2009

No. 28
Workshop on Entrepreneurial Finance: A Summary
James Thomson, Timothy Dunne, and Scott Shane
This Policy Discussion Paper summarizes papers that were presented at the Workshop on Entrepreneurial Finance, which was held March 12–13, 2009, at the Federal Feserve Bank of Cleveland. Researchers presented new empirical research that exploits data sets on entrepreneurial activity that are based on broad and representative data samples. Papers in the workshop focused primarily on analyses of the sources and structure of start-up finance, including the importance of bank lending, venture capital, angel investors, and owner equity.

No. 27
On Systemically Important Financial Institutions and Progressive Systemic Mitigation
James Thomson
One of the most important issues in the regulatory reform debate is that of systemically important financial institutions. This paper proposes a framework for identifying and supervising such institutions; the framework is designed to remove the advantages they derive from becoming systemically important and to give them more time-consistent incentives. It defines criteria for classifying firms as systemically important: size (the classic doctrine of too big to let fail) and the four C’s of systemic importance (contagion, concentration, correlation, and conditions); it also discusses the concept of progressive systemic mitigation.

No. 26
A Conference on Liquidity in Frictional Markets
Pierre-Olivier Weill, Guillaume Rocheteau, and Joseph Haubrich
This Policy Discussion Paper summarizes the papers that were presented at the Liquidity in Frictional Markets conference in November 2008. The papers, which looked at markets for assets as diverse as houses, bank loans, and electronic funds transfer, all explored that amorphous concept called “liquidity” and how its presence&mdashor absence&mdashaffects the economy.

No. 25
Understanding Ohio’s Land Bank Legislation
Thomas Fitzpatrick IV              
The effects of sustained high rates of foreclosure on numerous areas of Cuyahoga County have thrust land banking to the forefront of recent public policy discussions in Ohio. This Policy Discussion Paper seeks to inform those discussions by explaining the state’s traditional land banking system and illustrating how the new land banking system, spelled out in Senate Bill 353/House Bill 602 and signed into law January 2009, works. 

Originally published January 6, 2009. Updated January 30, 2009, to reflect changes in legislation.

2008

No. 24
Identifying and Resolving Financial Crises: A Conference Overview
James Thomson and Joseph Haubrich                                      
Financial crises remain a recurring problem despite, or perhaps, as some suggest, because of, extensive innovation in capital markets over the past several decades. Crisis interventions are fraught with trade-offs: What are the costs of doing nothing? What is the probability that markets will seize up? Are there viable alternatives? Will the intervention make further crises more likely? The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the FDIC sponsored a conference in April 2008 to debate and exchange ideas on these issues. The following document summarizes and ties together the contributions presented.

2007

No. 23
The 2007 Summer Workshop on Money, Banking and Payments: An Overview
Ed Nosal and Randall Wright
The 2007 Summer Workshop on Money, Banking, Payments and Finance met at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland this summer, as we have over the past several years. The following document summarizes and ties together the contributions presented at the workshop this year.

No. 22
Does Government Intervention in the Small-Firm Credit Market Help Economic Performance?
William Jackson III, Ben Craig, and James Thomson
The guaranteed lending programs of the Small Business Administration (SBA) are large and growing rapidly. The SBA’s fiscal year 2008 performance budget calls for $25 billion in guaranteed loans for small businesses-a new record for the agency. Some critics of SBA programs suggest they do not help small businesses or overall economic performance. Other critics suggest that these programs unfairly benefit the financial institutions that participate in SBA’s guaranteed lending programs. While very little serious empirical evidence exists on whether the net economic impact of the SBA’s guaranteed lending programs is positive or negative, a few recent studies provide some insight into the question. In general, they suggest a small positive impact of the SBA’s programs on economic performance. However, the results are very tentative and further research is needed to declare a more definitive position. We provide a general overview of the SBA’s guaranteed lending programs and summarize the results of these studies.

No. 21
On the Resolution of Financial Crises: The Swedish Experience
Ozgur Emre Ergungor              
Sweden was one of the Scandinavian countries experiencing a severe financial crisis In the late 1980s and early 1990s. This paper reviews the policy choices and external factors that pushed the country’s financial system over the edge and then examines the steps the government took to make its resolution of the crisis one of the most successful in the past 30 years.

No. 20
Who Holds the Toxic Waste? An Investigation of CMO Holdings
Joseph Haubrich and Deborah Lucas
"Toxic waste" refers to the riskiest derivative structures arising from collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs). We use simulations to predict how this risk would manifest itself in various interest rate environments. We also look for evidence on the total dollar value of these securities, who holds them, and how much they hold. Very limited public information is available, but commercial banks are required to report on their holdings, and we investigate the extent to which the risk is concentrated in that sector.                                                                                                                           

No. 19
Some Lessons on the Rescue of Long-Term Capital Management
Joseph Haubrich
This Policy Discussion Paper reviews the restructuring and recapitalization of Long-Term Capital Management, looking at possible alternatives and paying particular attention to the Federal Reserve’s role.

No. 18
2006 Summer Workshop on Money, Banking, and Payments: An Overview
Ed Nosal, Randall Wright, and Guillaume Rocheteau
This Policy Discussion Paper summarizes the papers presented at the 2006 Summer Workshop on Money, Banking, and Payments. Every summer since 2002, some of the best researchers in the areas of theory, policy, and quantitative analysis relating to money, banking, and payments systems have met in Cleveland to discuss their latest work. The papers presented at the 2006 workshop cover a vast spectrum of issues and use a wide variety of methods. Still, there is an underlying theme, which is an effort to enhance our understanding of monetary economics, broadly defined, and to uncover new ways to think about important substantive issues. Hopefully, this helps not only theoretical monetary economists, but also economists such as central bankers with a more practical policy-oriented view.

No. 17
Inertial Taylor Rules: The Benefit of Signaling Future Policy
Timothy Fuerst and Charles Carlstrom
We trace the consequences of an energy shock on the economy under two different monetary policy rules: a standard Taylor rule where the Fed responds to inflation and the output gap; and a Taylor rule with inertia where the Fed moves slowly to the rate predicted by the standard rule. We show that with both sticky wages and sticky prices, the outcome of an inertial Taylor rule is superior to that of the standard rule, in the sense that inflation is lower and output is higher following an adverse energy shock. However, if prices alone are sticky, things are less clear and the standard rule delivers substantially less inflation than the inertial rule in the short run.

2006

No. 16
Estimating GSP and Labor Productivity by State
Paul Bauer and Yoonsoo Lee
In gauging the health of state economies, arguably the two most important series to track are employment and output. While employment by state is available about three weeks after the end of a month, data on output, as measured by Gross State Product (GSP), are only available annually and with a significant lag. This Policy Discussion Paper details how more current estimates of GSP can be generated using U.S. Gross Domestic Product and personal income along with individual states’ personal income. A straightforward share approach yields reasonable GSP estimates, but a more sophisticated econometric approach, at a cost of imposing more structure, yields even better ones. Both techniques are also applied to estimate nonfarm-business GSP in order to calculate a measure of labor productivity at the state level that follows as closely as possible the method used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the national measure of labor productivity. We then briefly examine how labor productivity varies across states.

No. 15         
2005 Summer Workshop on Money, Banking and Payments: An Overview
Guillaume Rocheteau, Ed Nosal, and Randall Wright
This PDP summarizes the papers presented at the 2005 Summer Workshop on Money, Banking, and Payments at the Cleveland Fed. Papers covered a wide variety of topics in monetary theory and policy, banking, and payments systems research. Topics ranged from optimal monetary policy, optimal bank contracts, the private supply of money, the coexistence of credit, money, and capital, the design of payment systems, and international currencies. Effort was made to calibrate models and bring them closer to the data. These contributions illustrate the progress made in the field of monetary theory.

No. 14
The Economics of Payments
Ed Nosal and Guillaume Rocheteau
In this paper we provide a survey of the payment literature in a unified framework. The environment is a variant of the Lagos and Wright (2005) model of monetary exchange, where some trades occur in bilateral meetings while others occur in more or less decentralized markets. We use this basic environment to introduce alternative sets of trading frictions that give rise to different payments instruments and/or payments institutions. We investigate credit economies, monetary economies, and economies in which money and credit coexist. We also study alternative assets, such as foreign exchange, capital (equity), and government liabilities, which can be used as payment instruments in conjunction with money. We introduce banks as deposit-taking institutions whose liabilities circulate in the economy. We also provide an extension in which the process of the settlement of debt for money is modeled and the potential social costs of settlement are characterized. Finally, we investigate government policy responses to the social costs introduced by various trading frictions.

No. 13
Globalization and imbalances in historical perspective
Michael Bordo
Global imbalances associated with the U.S. current account deficit have given rise to speculation about the nature of the impending adjustment: Will it be smooth and gradual, or will it be sudden and costly? This paper summarizes the two views and then considers three historical periods with similar pressures--an earlier era of globalization from 1870 to 1914, the interwar gold standard, and Bretton Woods. A comparison of the periods and their outcomes suggests current global imbalances might resolve themselves quietly.

No. 12
Inflation and Welfare: A Search Approach
Ben Craig and Guillaume Rocheteau
This paper extends recent findings in the search-theoretic literature on monetary exchange regarding the welfare costs of inflation. We present first estimates of the welfare cost of inflation using the "welfare triangle" methodology of Bailey (1958) and Lucas (2000). We then derive a money demand function from the search-theoretic model of Lagos and Wright (2005) and we estimate it from U.S. data over the period 1900-2000. We show that the welfare cost of inflation predicted by the model accords with the welfare-triangle measure when pricing mechanisms are such that buyers appropriate the social marginal benefit of their real balances. For other mechanisms, welfare triangles underestimate the true welfare cost of inflation because of a rent-sharing externality. We also point out other inefficiencies associated with noncompetitive pricing, which matter for estimating the cost of inflation. We then illustrate how endogenous participation decisions can mitigate or exacerbate the cost of inflaion, and we provide calibrated examples in which a deviation from the Friedman rule is optimal. Finally, we discuss distributional effects of inflation.

2005

No. 11
Umbrella Supervision and the Role of the Central Bank
James Thomson and Joseph Haubrich
Deregulation and financial consolidation have led to the development of financial holding companies-allowing commercial banking, insurance, investment banking, and other financial activities to be conducted under the same corporate umbrella-and the Federal Reserve has been named supervisor of the consolidated enterprise. This Policy Discussion Paper will show that there likely are economies of scope between the Fed’s inherent central-banking responsibilities and those of an umbrella supervisor and that these duel roles benefit both the Fed and functional regulators.

No. 10
Oil Prices, Monetary Policy, and the Macroeconomy
Charles Carlstrom and Timothy Fuerst                                      
Every U.S. recession since 1971 has been preceded by two things: an oil price shock and an increase in the federal funds rate. Bernanke, Gertler, and Watson (1997,2004) investigated how much oil price shocks have contributed to output growth by asking the following counterfactual question: Empirically how much would we expect oil price increases to have contributed to output growth if the Fed had kept the rate constant instead of letting it increase? They concluded that, at most, half of the observed output declines can be attributed to oil price increases. Most were actually caused by funds rate increases. A problem with their empirical analysis, however, is that it implicitly assumes that the Fed can continually "fool" the public. That is, the funds rate is led constant even though the public actually expects the Fed to follow its historical policy rule of raising the funds rate in conjunction with oil price increases. We show that if the new policy rule were anticipated oil price increases would have had a much larger impact on output than suggested by Bernanke, Gertler, and Watson’s analysis.

No. 9
Systemic Banking Crises
Ozgur Emre Ergungor and James Thomson
Systemic banking crises can have devastating effects on the economies of developing or industrialized countries. This Policy Discussion Paper reviews the factors that weaken banking systems and make them more susceptible to crises.                                                                                       

No. 8
Recent Developments in Monetary Economics: A Summary of the 2004 Workshop on Money, Banking, and Payments
Randall Wright, Ed Nosal, and Guillaume Rocheteau
We provide a summary and an overview of the papers presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s 2004 Workshop on Money, Banking, and Payments, held during the weeks of August 3-7 and August 23-27, 2004. The papers presented at the workshop are available at www.clevelandfed.org/research/confpast.cfm.
/Research/PolicyDis/No8Jan05.pdf
.

2004

No. 7
Measuring Labor’s Share of Income
Peter Rupert and Paul Gomme
Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show labor’s share of income at a historic low. This Policy Discussion Paper explores the BLS calculations with an eye to understanding the factors leading to the recent fall in labor’s share. While data limitations prohibit replication of the BLS series, alternative measures of labor’s share of income, based on either the nonfinancial corporate business sector or the macroeconomy more generally, are near their historic averages, quite unlike the BLS series.

No. 6
Walking on a Fence: Brazil’s Public-Sector Debt
Owen Humpage and Patrick Higgins
Brazil is walking on a fence between sustainable and unsustainable public-debt dynamics. How it treads could affect not only its own economic prosperity but that of its neighbors, emerging markets in general, and U.S. financial institutions in particular. Relatively small improvements in Brazilian economic conditions and a continuation of that country’s recent fiscal improvements could push Brazil in the right direction, particularly if the dollar continues to depreciate.

2003

No. 5
Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: New Budget Measures for New Budget Priorities
Jagadeesh Gokhale and Kent Smetters                                    
This paper describes the deficiencies of the measures used to calculate the federal budget, make revenue and spending projections, and assess the sustainability of current fiscal policies. The nature of the deficiencies hides the tremendous impact that Social Security and Medicare commitments will have on the budget in the future, given the way the programs are structured currently and the momentous demographic shift underway as the baby boom generation approaches retirement age. This paper proposes two new simple measures that will enable government officials and the public to calculate more accurately the costs of maintaining these programs into the relevant future. The measures provide a better understanding of the costs involved, when they will be incurred, and by whom. The measures also provide a way to meaningfully compare the various solutions that have been proposed for dealing with the impending fiscal crisis that will be caused by Social Security and Medicare. This article was also published as a monograph by the AEI Press, the publisher for the American Enterprise Institute.

2002

No. 4
An Incentive-Compatible Suggestion for Seigniorage Sharing with Dollarizing Countries
Owen Humpage
Sixteen countries now give the U.S. dollar legal-tender status. Although dollarizing can help emerging-market countries gain monetary credibility and avoid currency crisis, many do not want to give up the seigniorage revenues associated with issuing their own fiat currency. This article offers a proposal for seignoirage sharing.

No. 3
Evaluating the Macroeconomic Effects of a Temporary Investment Tax Credit
Paul Gomme
As part of a fiscal stimulus package, some members of Congress have recently proposed a temporary investment subsidy. This paper uses the neoclassical growth model to evaluate the likely macroeconomic effects of such a subsidy. The model predicts a 0.8 percentage point increase in output growth in the quarter that the policy is implemented. In subsequent quarters, the output growth effects are negligible. As the subsidy ends, output growth falls 1 percentage point before returning to its trend growth rate. While a permanent subsidy will lead to more capital deepening in the long term, it also represents a permanent fall in government revenues. Under a temporary subsidy, there is less capital deepening, but the decline in government revenues is likewise more modest.

2001

No. 2
International financial flows and the current business expansion
Owen Humpage

Since 1992, the United States has enjoyed sustained, rapid economic expansion characterized by rising labor force participation, booming net investment spending for information equipment and computer software, and strong productivity growth. Substantial foreign capital inflows have helped to finance the investment boom as well as a rise in private domestic consumption spending. This paper illustrates how capital inflows can be both a bane and a boon to economic growth.

2000

No. 1

Does Wage Inflation Cause Price Inflation?
Gregory Hess and Mark Schweitzer
Recent attention has turned from unemployment levels to wage growth as an indicator of imminent inflation. But is there any evidence to support the assumption that increased wages cause inflation? This study updates and expands earlier research into this question and finds little support for the view that higher wages cause higher prices. On the contrary, the authors find more evidence that higher prices lead to wage growth.