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Economic Synopses

Short essays on the economic issues of the day written for a generally informed readership.

2014, No. 26

Projecting GDP Growth Using Trends in Labor Force Participation

Measuring the output gap without accounting for the trend in labor force participation may lead to persistent misdiagnoses of the state of the economy.


2014, No. 25

Why Is Credit Card Delinquency Declining?

The decline in the number of cardholders in delinquency and the number of accounts per cardholder in delinquency are primary factors affecting the fall in the delinquency rate.


2014, No. 23

The Rising Complexity of the FOMC Statement

FOMC statements have grown more complicated since the onset of unconventional monetary policy.


2014, No. 24

Recent ECB Policy and Inflation Expectations

Market participants may not expect recent ECB policy to boost inflation.


2014, No. 22

Measuring (Most of) the Slack in the Labor Market

Compared with previous recessions, the manufacturing sector does not show much slack. The construction sector, on the other hand, is below potential.


2014, No. 21

U.S. Job Polarization Persists

Job polarization has existed before, during, and since the Great Recession.


2014, No. 20

“Unemployment Claims Hit 8½-Year Low”: Interpret with Caution

An unemployment statistic based on unemployment insurance is less useful because it does not measure unemployment itself.


2014, No. 19

Comparing International Bond Yields

Spanish and Italian government bond yields are not directly comparable to those of U.S. Treasuries because the bonds are paid in different currencies.


2014, No. 18

The Cost of Chasing Returns

Market mistiming reduces profits.


2014, No. 17

How Negative Is Negative Real GDP Growth?

Most forecasters think the surprise first-quarter contraction is not a harbinger of another recession, but history suggests caution.


2014, No. 16

The Effects of Extending Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Longer benefits may reduce unemployed workers’ job search efforts, decreasing their likelihood of becoming reemployed.


2014, No. 15

Job Separation Rate Shows Economic Shifts

Quits rise when the economy is good; layoffs and discharges rise when the economy isn’t.


2014, No. 14

What’s Behind—and Beyond—the Default Rate on Student Loans?

Deferment or forbearance may be masking the true student loan default rates in recent years.


2014, No. 13

Where Is the Slack in the Labor Market?

Current slack in the economy may be caused primarily by the construction sector.


2014, No. 12

Recent Trends in Student Loans: More Loans and Higher Balances

Student loan borrowing accelerated during the Great Recession and now outranks any non-mortgage debt, including auto loans and credit card debt.


2014, No. 11

Employment Revision Asymmetries

If employment revisions are systematically biased, they could affect how policy is conducted.


2014, No. 10

Signs of Improving Labor Market Conditions

Data revisions suggest that job growth has been much stronger than initially reported the past two years.


2014, No. 9

Accounting for Discouraged Workers in the Unemployment Rate

We construct a new measure of the unemployment rate based on a plausible assumption that some, but not all, of the discouraged workers reenter the labor force.


2014, No. 8

Are Virtual “Currencies” Likely to Succeed?

The continued use of a currency depends on the stability of its value and the existence of alternatives for achieving final settlement.


2014, No. 7

Labor Market Update

There has been a significant and steady drop in the unemployment rate since late 2009, but unemployment duration remains high and employment as a percentage of the working-age population has not recovered.


2014, No. 6

Discouraged Workers: What Do We Know?

The number of discouraged workers is small relative to the rest of the working-age population, and most discouraged workers do not stay in that category too long.


2014, No. 5

The Deleveraging of U.S. Households Since the Financial Crisis

While households decreased credit card debt between 2007 and 2010, the process varied by education level between the extensive margin (how many households borrowed) and the intensive margin (how much households borrowed).


2014, No. 4

Currency Returns During the Financial Crisis and Great Recession

The volume and volatility of international capital flows have motivated recent interest in the optimal use of capital controls and the communication and coordination among central banks.


2014, No. 3

Has QE Been Effective?

Longer-term yields declined by relatively large amounts on days when the FOMC made specific QE announcements. However, the objective of QE has been to reduce long-term yields beyond the levels they would have reached without QE.


2014, No. 2

Lessons from the Taper Tantrum

The evidence from last summer suggests that QE programs have had the desired effect on asset prices.


2014, No. 1

Quantitative Easing in Japan: Past and Present

Inflation expectations in Japan have recently risen above their historical average.


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