Chicago Fed Letter
The cost of borrowing U.S. dollars through foreign exchange (FX) swap markets increased significantly at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020, indicated by larger deviations from covered interest rate parity (CIP).1 CIP deviations narrowed again when the Federal Reserve expanded its swap lines to support U.S. dollar liquidity globally—by enhancing and extending its swap facility with foreign central banks and introducing the new temporary Foreign and International Monetary Authorities (FIMA) repurchase agreement facility for foreign and international monetary authorities.2 Recent research by Meisenzahl, Niepmann, and Schmidt-Eisenlohr (2020) shows how wider CIP deviations result in higher borrowing costs for U.S. corporations in the leveraged loan market. In this article, we discuss this finding, which suggests that, besides other channels, the Federal Reserve’s initiatives to provide global U.S. dollar liquidity contributed to easier financial conditions for U.S. corporate borrowers.
On March 17, 2020, seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area put into place the first stay-at-home orders in the United States. In the following weeks, counties and states implemented a cascading sequence of stay-at-home orders, bans on public gatherings, shutdowns of nonessential businesses, and face mask mandates. But as small businesses began to face financial insolvency, states and counties began easing these restrictions. To evaluate the effectiveness of policies restricting mobility and business activity, it is important to document the effects of reopening businesses on public health and economic activity. In this Chicago Fed Letter, we measure the relationship between state-level reopenings of nonessential businesses and health outcomes (Covid-19 cases and deaths), mobility, and revenue at small and large retail businesses.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the U.S. economy. Nowhere are the effects more dramatic than in the labor market: In a span of just two months, the unemployment rate increased from 3.5% in February 2020—a low not seen since the late 1960s—to 14.7% in April—a high not seen since the Great Depression—before falling modestly in May and June. How persistent are these effects likely to be? Will the labor market recover quickly once pandemic-related restrictions are fully lifted, or will unemployment remain at elevated levels further into the future?
The Covid-19 public health crisis has sharply reduced the earnings of millions of U.S. households, following the severe curtailment of economic activity needed to contain the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, households continue to confront their ongoing financial obligations. The ability of households to manage these obligations has important consequences for the speed at which the U.S. economy can recover from the current crisis. Households that are wiped out financially in the coming months will not be in a position to strongly resume spending once the virus containment issues have passed. Moreover, a wave of missed payments on mortgages and other types of household debt could propagate through the financial system—weakening financial institutions, unnerving investors, and further prolonging the economic slump.