Providing you with in-depth analysis of current economic and financial issues.
- The Federal Reserve System is a model of an independent central bank, with the authority to resist political pressure and act in the long-term best economic interest of the country. But this has not always been the case. In the past—and not too distant past at that—US monetary policy has frequently yielded to other governmental requirements. Even for the modern Federal Reserve, independence is a nuanced, mutable and, ultimately, fragile concept, but one that is essential to maintain. Read more (PDF)
- Why has average income grown in some poor neighborhoods over the past 30 years and not in others? We explore that question and find that low-income neighborhoods that experienced large improvements in income over the past three decades tended to be located in large, densely populated metro areas that grew in income and population. Residential sorting—changes in population and demographics within neighborhoods—could help to explain this relationship. Read more (PDF)
- The earliest available source of metro-area employment numbers is the initial estimates of State and Metro-Area Employment, Hours, and Earnings (SAE) from the Current Employment Statistics program, but these figures are subject to large revisions. We show how large those revisions are for six metro areas and the four states in the Fourth Federal Reserve District. We also compare the precision of the initial estimates to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), which is less timely but more accurate. Our analysis confirms that the best approach for those wanting accurate metro-area employment figures is to use the final, benchmarked SAE or the QCEW. Read more (PDF)
- Investment in structures is still 29 percent below its pre-recession peak. Using a new indicator of the level of structures that would be warranted by economic conditions, we find evidence that the level of investment was too high in the first half of the 2000s. This overinvestment created an overhang of structures which has held down the growth of investment in structures during the recovery. Read more (PDF)
- All the signs in the housing market seem to be pointing the right way, except the amount of time loans are spending in the foreclosure process. Foreclosure fast-tracks for vacant homes in foreclosure may help reverse that trend. Read more (PDF)
- A standard Taylor rule, which expresses the federal funds rate as a function of inflation, the unemployment gap, and the past federal funds rate, tracks the federal funds rate well over time. We improve the fit by adding employment growth. Then we evaluate the effectiveness of that rule in a new way—by how accurately it predicts whether the FOMC moves the fed funds rate at its next meeting. It does pretty well, predicting nearly 70 percent of the time correctly. Read more (PDF)
- Some analysts pay particular attention to oil prices, thinking they might give an advance signal of changes in inflation. However, using a variety of statistical tests, we find that adding oil prices does little to improve forecasts of CPI inflation. Our results suggest that higher oil prices today do not necessarily signal higher CPI inflation next year, although they do help to explain short-term movements in the CPI. [ Online extras (tables with results of all model specifications)] Read more (PDF)