COVID-19 Caused 3 New Hires for Every 10 Layoffs
Reports about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to slow its spread make for grim reading. One especially grim statistic is the number of layoffs. Since early March, just over 28 million persons have filed new claims for unemployment insurance benefits (roughly 30 million if you seasonally adjust).
The inflation expectations of firms: what do they look like, are they accurate, and do they matter?
The purpose of this paper is to answer the three questions in the title. Using a large monthly survey of businesses, we investigate the inflation expectations and uncertainties of firms. We document that, in the aggregate, firm inflation expectations are very similar to the predictions of professional forecasters for national inflation statistics, despite a somewhat greater heterogeneity of expectations that we attribute to the idiosyncratic cost structure firms face. We also show that firm inflation expectations bear little in common with the ?prices in general? expectations reported by ...
Do rising rents complicate inflation assessment?
In the face of falling house prices, decreasing rates of homeownership, and a glut of vacant homes, the Consumer Price Index?s measure of the cost of owner-occupied housing?owners? equivalent rent of residence (OER)?has begun to accelerate, rising at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent over the past six months. Given a backdrop of generally subdued underlying inflation elsewhere in the index, a persistent increase in the relative price of OER?the largest component of the consumer market basket by far?may create upward pressure on measured inflation.
An unstable Okun’s Law, not the best rule of thumb
Okun?s law is a statistical relationship between unemployment and GDP that is widely used as a rule of thumb for assessing the unemployment rate?why it might be at a certain level or where it might be headed, for example. Unfortunately, the Okun?s law relationship is not stable over time, which makes it potentially misleading as a rule of thumb.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Business Expectations
We document and evaluate how businesses are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through August 2020. First, on net, firms see the shock (thus far) largely as a demand rather than supply shock. A greater share of firms reports significant or severe disruption to sales activity than to supply chains. We compare these measures of disruption to their expected changes in selling prices and find that, even for firms that report supply chain disruption, they expect to lower near-term selling prices on average. We also show that firms are engaging in wage cuts and expect to trim wages further before the ...
Trimmed-Mean Inflation Statistics: Just Hit the One in the Middle
This paper reinvestigates the performance of trimmed-mean inflation measures some 20 years since their inception, asking whether there is a particular trimmed-mean measure that dominates the median consumer price index (CPI). Unlike previous research, we evaluate the performance of symmetric and asymmetric trimmed means using a well known equality of prediction test. We find that there is a large swath of trimmed means that have statistically indistinguishable performance. Also, although the swath of statistically similar trims changes slightly over different sample periods, it always ...
U.S. Firms Foresee Intensifying Coronavirus Impact
In late March—even before many states had issued shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, or shutdown orders—we noted that firms were bracing for a huge negative impact on sales revenues from developments surrounding the coronavirus. Results from our March Survey of Business Uncertainty (SBU)—a national survey of firms of varying sizes and industries—revealed that disruptions stemming from COVID-19 had led to sharp declines in expectations for year-ahead sales growth.
Lessons for Forecasting Unemployment in the U.S.: Use Flow Rates, Mind the Trend
This paper evaluates the ability of autoregressive models, professional forecasters, and models that leverage unemployment flows to forecast the unemployment rate. We pay particular attention to flows-based approaches?the more reduced form approach of Barnichon and Nekarda (2012) and the more structural method in Tasci (2012)?to generalize whether data on unemployment flows is useful in forecasting the unemployment rate. We find that any approach that leverages unemployment inflow and outflow rates performs well in the near term. Over longer forecast horizons, Tasci (2012) appears to be a ...
The Impact of the Pandemic on US Businesses: New Results from the Annual Business Survey
Working with Federal Reserve staff, the US Census Bureau added to the 2021 Annual Business Survey (ABS) a special module of questions focused on the pandemic and small business finances. Questions ranged from the impact of the pandemic on business sales, to government assistance requested/received, and to the financial health of the firm. In this article, we report the results of these questions—and how they differ by race and ethnicity. The survey finds that more than 60 percent of business experienced declines in sales. Fully one-third experienced significant declines. More than 70 ...
Access to Credit for Small and Minority-Owned Businesses
Equal access to small-business credit is a critical underpinning to equity in economic opportunity; however, it is difficult to regularly assess the fairness of credit provision. Prior research has focused on the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Small Business Finance, but the most recent data from this source is from 2003. This article provides preliminary results on new credit access questions added to the Census Bureau’s 2021 Annual Business Survey. We find that minority-owned businesses generally were just as likely to apply for credit in 2020, but Black-, Asian-, and Hispanic-owned ...