Monthly Archives: March 2013

Understanding the housing bubble

A key reason that I was insufficiently worried in 2005 about bad mortgage loans being made at the time was that the people who funded the loans– most importantly, the packagers and buyers of private-label mortgage-backed securities– had more motivation and resources to evaluate the risks accurately than I did. That they made an incredibly costly mistake is now indisputable. But the question remains, why?

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Wisconsin Employment: Still Lagging despite Upward Revisions

Earlier this week, the BLS released new estimates of state employment, based upon Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data through September 2012. The figures for Wisconsin have been substantially revised upward. As indicated in previous posts [1] [2] , census data had indicated substantially higher nonfarm payroll employment than that derived from surveys.

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2013 Econbrowser NCAA tournament challenge

Yes, it’s coming! The all new (well, actually it’s somewhat similar to last year’s) 2013 Econbrowser NCAA tournament challenge. Here we once again invite all Econbrowser readers to test your skill (or luck) at predicting the outcomes of the U.S. college mens’ basketball tournament. All you have to do is go to the Econbrowser group at ESPN, do some minor registering to create a free ESPN account if you haven’t used that site before, and fill in your bracket with who you think might be the winners of each game. Just be sure you complete your predictions before Thursday, because the Econbrowser group does not allow changes in your bracket after the tournament begins on Thursday. And be forewarned that some of the people who compete in the Econbrowser NCAA challenge really know what they’re doing!

What’s going to happen to the Fed’s balance sheet?

The Federal Reserve has increased its assets from $900 billion in 2007 to over $3,150 billion and still climbing today. On the liabilities side of the Fed’s balance sheet, reserve balances held by banks have gone from $10 B in 2007 to $1,750 B and climbing today. My expectation had always been that this would be a temporary situation, with a return to historical norms when economic conditions improved. Recently, three different teams have independently studied what that transition back to normal might look like. One study was carried out by Robert Hall and Ricardo Reis (professors at Stanford and Columbia, respectively) and another by Seth Carpenter, Jane Ihrig, Elizabeth Klee, Alexander Boote, and Daniel Quinn (all economists at the Federal Reserve Board). I participated in a third study with David Greenlaw at Morgan Stanley, Peter Hooper at Deutsche Bank, and Frederic Mishkin at Columbia. Our analysis used a similar methodology to that conducted by the Fed staff, and we reached similar conclusions to theirs, while Hall and Reis took a broader and more theoretical perspective. Here I describe the methods and findings of our study.

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