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An In-depth Look at Large and Complex Banks

May 29, 2014 Comments off

An In-depth Look at Large and Complex Banks
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released a special Economic Policy Review series on large and complex banks. The 11 research papers that make up this series provide analysis in several key areas, including bank size, complexity and resolution. The papers, which are written by New York Fed economists, aim to further study and debate of these topics and to help inform policymakers.

Among the papers’ key findings:
Bank size has benefits and costs: the upside is the potential for economies of scale and lower operating costs; the downside is the “too-big-to-fail” problem and associated funding advantages and moral hazard.
Banks have become less bank-centric and more organizationally complex. Furthermore, the increase in bank complexity may be a natural response to an evolving intermediation technology.
Bail-in regimes, where the claims of creditors of the parent company are converted to equity in resolution, are an efficient and superior process for resolving the failure of a large financial firm. Requiring systemically important bank holding companies to issue “bail-inable” long-term debt that converts to equity in resolution would make large bank failures more orderly.

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New York Fed Report Shows Households Adding Debt

February 27, 2014 Comments off

New York Fed Report Shows Households Adding Debt
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

In its latest Household Debt and Credit Report, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that outstanding household debt increased $241 billion from the previous quarter, the largest quarter over quarter increase since the third quarter of 2007. The increase was led primarily by a 1.9 percent increase in mortgage debt ($152 billion). In Q4 2013 total household indebtedness increased to $11.52 trillion; 2.1 percent higher than the previous quarter.  Overall household debt remains 9.1 percent below the peak of $12.68 trillion in Q3 2008. The report is based on data from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data.

New York Fed Report Shows Households Adding Debt

February 19, 2014 Comments off

New York Fed Report Shows Households Adding Debt
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

In its latest Household Debt and Credit Report, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that outstanding household debt increased $241 billion from the previous quarter, the largest quarter over quarter increase since the third quarter of 2007. The increase was led primarily by a 1.9 percent increase in mortgage debt ($152 billion). In Q4 2013 total household indebtedness increased to $11.52 trillion; 2.1 percent higher than the previous quarter. Overall household debt remains 9.1 percent below the peak of $12.68 trillion in Q3 2008. The report is based on data from the New York Fed’s Consumer Credit Panel, a nationally representative sample drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data.

Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?

January 21, 2014 Comments off

Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs? (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

According to numerous accounts, the Great Recession has left many recent college graduates struggling to find jobs that utilize their education. However, a look at the data on the employment outcomes for recent graduates over the past two decades suggests that such difficulties are not a new phenomenon: individuals just beginning their careers often need time to transition into the labor market. Still, the percentage who are unemployed or “underemployed”—working in a job that typically does not require a bachelor’s degree—has risen, particularly since the 2001 recession. Moreover, the quality of the jobs held by the underemployed has declined, with today’s recent graduates increasingly accepting low-wage jobs or working part-time.

Just Released: Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?

June 28, 2013 Comments off

Just Released: Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Stories abound about recent college graduates who are struggling to find good jobs in today’s economy, especially with student debt levels rising so quickly. But just how bad are the job prospects for recent college graduates when one moves beyond anecdotes and looks at the data? How widespread is unemployment? And how common is it for college graduates to work in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree—that is, how widespread is underemployment? We examined these questions at today’s economic press briefing at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In our presentation, we show that both unemployment and underemployment for young graduates are in fact higher now compared to, say, a decade ago. At the same time, however, we show that it is not unusual for newly minted college graduates to take some time to transition into the labor market and find jobs that utilize their education. In other words, young graduates typically have relatively high unemployment and underemployment rates as they start their careers, but those rates drop pretty rapidly by the time they hit their late twenties.

Perhaps not surprisingly, college major plays a key role in how well recent graduates have fared in the labor market. We show that there are large differences in unemployment rates, underemployment rates, and average wages across majors. In particular, we show that those with degrees in majors that provide technical training, such as “Engineering” and “Math & Computers,” or in those that are geared toward growing parts of the economy, such as “Education” and “Health,” have tended to do pretty well when compared to the rest of the pack. At the other end of the spectrum, those with a “Liberal Arts” or “Leisure & Hospitality” major tend to have lower wages, higher unemployment, and higher underemployment.

Regardless of major, though, we show that those with a college degree still tend to do better than those without. In fact, even recent college graduates who take a job that typically does not require a college degree tend to earn more than those with only an Associate’s degree or high school diploma—and this pattern is true for people with degrees in the lowest-paying majors. So, while times may have gotten tougher for recent college graduates since the Great Recession, obtaining a college degree still appears to provide significant economic benefits.

The Geography of Student Debt

May 21, 2013 Comments off

The Geography of Student Debt

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

This morning, the New York Fed released its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for 2013 Q1. The report uses the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel to show that outstanding household debt declined approximately $110 billion (about 1 percent) from the previous quarter. The drop was due in large part to a reduction in housing-related debt and credit card balances. Meanwhile, delinquency rates for each form of consumer debt declined, with the overall ninety-plus day delinquency rate dropping from 6.3 percent to 6.0 percent.

One of the unique aspects of the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, which is itself based on Equifax credit data, is the detail we obtain for each kind of household debt. This quarter, we have taken advantage of the geographic information available in the data set and are introducing a set of maps of our student loan data, which indicate regional variation in several dimensions of student debt. They depict:

  • Student loan borrowers as a share of the population. The population with active student loan debts, or “SL borrowers,” as a share of the population with a credit record varies substantially over space. For example, in Hawaii, less than 12 percent of people with a credit report have student debt, while in the District of Columbia over 25 percent do.
  • Student loan balances per SL borrower. Student indebtedness is significant for SL borrowers in virtually all states. Educational indebtedness per SL borrower ranges from a low of just under $21,000 in Wyoming to a high of over $28,000 in Maryland. Again, Washington, D.C., stands out: the average SL borrower there owes over $40,000. In general, we find SL-borrower debt levels are highest in California and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
  • Percent of balance ninety-plus days delinquent. Delinquency rates show a distinct regional pattern, with states in the south and southwest having generally higher rates than those in the north. The lowest delinquency rate is South Dakota, at just over 6.5 percent, while the highest is in West Virginia, at nearly 18 percent.

Student loan indebtedness and delinquency continue to generate intense interest and we look forward to sharing data and perspectives that help define the scope of this important issue.

Young Student Loan Borrowers Retreat from Housing and Auto Markets

April 17, 2013 Comments off

Young Student Loan Borrowers Retreat from Housing and Auto Markets

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Student loans have soared in popularity over the past decade, with the aggregate student loan balance, as measured in the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, reaching $966 billion at the end of 2012. Student debt now exceeds aggregate auto loan, credit card, and home-equity debt balances—making student loans the second largest debt of U.S. households, following mortgages. Student loans provide critical access to schooling, given the challenge presented by increasing costs of higher education and rising returns to a degree. Nevertheless, some have questioned how taking on extensive debt early in life has affected young workers’ post-schooling economic activity.

To address this issue, we examine trends in homeownership, auto debt, and total borrowing at standard ages of entry into the housing and vehicle markets for U.S. workers.

As seen in the chart below, the share of twenty-five-year-olds with student debt has increased from just 25 percent in 2003 to 43 percent in 2012. Further, the average student loan balance among those twenty-five-year-olds with student debt grew by 91 percent over the period, from $10,649 in 2003 to $20,326 in 2012. Student loan delinquencies have also been growing…

The Untold Story of Municipal Bond Defaults

August 17, 2012 Comments off

The Untold Story of Municipal Bond Defaults
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

The $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond market is perhaps best known for its federal tax exemption on individuals and its low default rate relative to other fixed-income securities. These two features have resulted in household investors dominating the ranks of municipal bond holders. As shown below, individuals directly hold more than half, or $1.879 billion, of U.S. municipal debt; when $930 billion in mutual fund holdings is included, the household share rises to three-quarters. Although the low default history of municipal bonds has played a key role in luring investors to the market, frequently cited default rates published by the rating agencies do not tell the whole story about municipal bond defaults.

How Deeply Held Are Anti-American Attitudes among Pakistani Youth? Evidence Using Experimental Variation in Information

May 21, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Federal Reserve Bank of New York

This paper investigates how attitudes toward the United States are affected by the provision of information. We use an experimentally generated panel of attitudes, obtained by providing urban Pakistanis with fact-based statements describing the United States in either a positive or negative light. Anti-American sentiment is high and heterogenous in our sample at the baseline. We find that revised attitudes are, on average, significantly different from baseline attitudes, indicating that providing information had a meaningful effect on U.S. favorability. Observed revisions are a consequence of both the salience of already known information and information acquisition that leads to a convergence in attitudes across respondents with different priors. This analysis provides evidence that (i) public opinions are not purely a cultural phenomenon and are malleable, and (ii) the tendency of respondents to ignore information not aligned with their priors can be overcome. Our findings make the case for dissemination of accurate information about various aspects of the Pakistan-U.S. relationship in order to improve opinion toward the United States.

Full Paper (PDF)

Workforce Skills across the Urban-Rural Hierarchy

April 8, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Federal Reserve Bank of New York
This paper examines differences in the skill content of work throughout the United States, ranging from densely populated city centers to isolated and sparsely populated rural areas. To do so, we classify detailed geographic areas into categories along the entire urban-rural hierarchy. An occupation-based cluster analysis is then used to measure the types of skills available in the regional workforce, which allows for a broader measure of human capital than is captured by conventional measures. We fi nd that the occupation clusters most prevalent in urban areas—scientists, engineers, and executives—are characterized by high levels of social and resource-management skills, as well as the ability to generate ideas and solve complex problems. By contrast, the occupation clusters that are most prevalent in rural areas—machinists, makers, and laborers—are among the lowest in terms of required skills. These differences in the skill content of work shed light on the pattern of earnings observed across the urban-rural hierarchy.

Grading Student Loans

March 14, 2012 Comments off

Grading Student Loans
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Student loans support the education of millions of students nationwide, yet much is unknown about the student loan market. Relevant data are limited and, for the most part, anecdotal. Also, sources tend to focus on recent college graduates and do not reveal much information about the indebtedness of parents, graduate students, and those who drop out of school.

To inform the public and policymakers, we devote this post to some new findings obtained from the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel, a unique and nationally representative data set sourced from Equifax credit reports. The FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel has made possible our Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, first issued in the second quarter of 2010. We will examine the overall student loan debt market as of third-quarter 2011, giving particular attention to changes from the second to the third quarter and highlighting new findings by age group as well.

The outstanding student loan balance now stands at about $870 billion,1 surpassing the total credit card balance ($693 billion) and the total auto loan balance ($730 billion). With college enrollments increasing and the costs of attendance rising, this balance is expected to continue its upward trend. Further, unlike other types of household debt such as credit cards and auto loans, the student loan market is incredibly complex. Numerous players and institutions hold stakes at each level of the market, including federal and state governments, colleges and universities, financial institutions, students and their families, and numerous servicers and guarantee facilitators.

Do We Know What We Owe? A Comparison of Borrower- and Lender-Reported Consumer Debt

October 21, 2011 Comments off

Do We Know What We Owe? A Comparison of Borrower- and Lender-Reported Consumer Debt (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Household surveys are the source of some of the most widely studied data on consumer balance sheets, with the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) generally cited as the leading source of wealth data for the United States. At the same time, recent research questions survey respondents’ propensity and ability to report debt characteristics accurately. We compare household debt as reported by borrowers to the SCF with household debt as reported by lenders to Equifax using the new FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel (CCP). Moments of the borrower and lender debt distributions are compared by year, age of household head, household size, and region of the country, in total and across five standard debt categories. The debt reports are strikingly similar, with one noteworthy exception: the aggregate credit card debt implied by SCF borrowers’ reports is less than 50 percent of the aggregate credit card debt implied by CCP lenders’ reports. Adjustments for sample representativeness and for small business and convenience uses of credit cards raise SCF credit card debt to somewhere between 52 and 66 percent of the CCP figure. Despite the credit card debt mismatch, bankruptcy history is reported comparably in the borrower and lender sources, indicating that not all stigmatized consumer behaviors are underreported.

New York Fed’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit Shows Continued Signs of Healing in Consumer Credit Markets

August 18, 2011 Comments off

New York Fed’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit Shows Continued Signs of Healing in Consumer Credit Markets
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York today released its Household Debt and Credit Report for the second quarter of 2011. Consistent with last quarter’s findings, the report shows continued signs of healing in the consumer credit markets. The data show evidence of a modest increase in the willingness of consumers to borrow and banks to lend.

Among the results:

  • Balances on most loan types fell, but by very small amounts
  • Mortgage and home equity lines of credit both fell by $20 billion
  • Consumers’ non-real estate indebtedness fell by $10 billion (0.4 percent) and now stands at $2.28 trillion, 9.5 percent below its fourth quarter 2008 peak
  • Credit card limits increased for the second consecutive quarter—by $60 billion or about two percent
  • Account openings and closings continued their trends from the end of 2010
  • The number of open mortgage accounts held roughly steady again in the second quarter
  • Open credit card accounts jumped by 10 million, to 389 million
  • Credit inquiries within the last six months—an indicator of consumer demand for new credit—bounced back in the quarter after having fallen slightly in the first quarter
  • Delinquency rates and transitions continued their recent improvement
  • Both delinquent and seriously delinquent balances remain 15 percent below year-ago levels
  • New foreclosures fell again, bankruptcies rose as they tend to do in the second quarter
  • Both are well below their peak and year-ago levels. For example, new foreclosure notations were down 22.8 percent from the first quarter; new bankruptcies were down 23.8 percent from the second quarter of 2010
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