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Working Papers, No. 2021-14, September 2021 Crossref
The Impact of Covid-19 Related Policy Responses on Municipal Debt Markets

(Revised August 1, 2022)

Municipal (muni) bonds are an important source of funding for state and local governments. During the Covid-19 pandemic, muni debt markets became severely distressed. In response, the Federal Reserve established the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). Meanwhile, Congress enacted extensive fiscal measures that included direct aid to cities and states. To understand whether and how these policies worked, we employ a state-level regression model to estimate the relative efficacy of monetary and fiscal policy interventions for the term structure of muni-Treasury yield spreads. We find that fiscal and monetary policy together reduced those spreads by as much as 225 basis points. Fiscal policy contributed at least twice as much as monetary policy to the notable decline in shorter-term muni-Treasury spreads. At longer maturities, the contribution of fiscal policy was at least three times as large as that of monetary policy, suggesting that it addressed fundamental credit concerns.

Working papers are not edited, and all opinions and errors are the responsibility of the author(s). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago or the Federal Reserve System.

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