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Hey, Economist! Tell Us about the New Applied Macroeconomics and Econometrics Center

Marco Del Negro is the director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s new research center, AMEC, which stands for the Applied Macroeconomics and Econometrics Center. Ahead of hosting its first symposium, “Heterogeneity in Macroeconomics: Implications.

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Marco Del Negro is the director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s new research center, AMEC, which stands for the Applied Macroeconomics and Econometrics Center. Ahead of hosting its first symposium, “Heterogeneity in Macroeconomics: Implications for Policy,” Liberty Street Economics caught up with Del Negro to learn more about his vision for AMEC.

Q: Why are you creating the Center and what is its purpose?

The New York Fed has decided to create the Applied Macroeconomics and Econometrics Center (AMEC) with one goal in mind: to promote and disseminate research in the fields of macroeconomics and econometrics—fields in which several New York Fed economists (including New York Fed President John Williams) are actively working. People know about this work of course—we publish it in academic journals, staff reports, and Liberty Street Economics posts; we issue various products such as the Weekly Economic Index, the Treasury Term Premia, the New York Fed DSGE model—but they may not have a full grasp of the breadth and diversity of this effort. Among many other subjects, we are particularly interested in studying the implications of inequality for monetary and fiscal policy (see for instance this Symposium that will take place in a few days). AMEC will facilitate the dissemination of this research and the engagement with academia and the public on these important themes.

Q: What kind of topics are you expecting AMEC to address?

All the core topics related to monetary policy. That is, monetary economics—both theory and empirics, forecasting, the labor market, the housing market, financial stability, the international economy, climate change, understanding expectations formations of both households and firms, term structure models, and finally studying important gauges for monetary policy such as the natural rates of interest r* and unemployment u*.

And as I mentioned, we will delve into inequality and its implications for policy and macroeconomic dynamics, the topics covered in the Symposium. In terms of tools, we will promote a diversity of approaches. AMEC researchers use both models and data, both macro (called “time series”), and micro, and, as much as we can, the two (models and data) together.  

Q: How has COVID-19 affected your macro analysis and scope of work?

COVID-19 changed everything, for us as well as for everyone else. We came up with new products such as the Weekly Economic Index, to track the economy in real time during those terrible months in early 2020.  We also had to adapt old products, such as the New York Fed DSGE Model (see this post on how we changed the model), to cope with the implications of this gigantic shock to the economy. And for some other products, such as r* and the Nowcast, we are still working on them.

Q: What content is housed within the Center and are there any plans to launch new products?

You can see a description of AMEC’s existing products (see list that follows this Q&A). And, as I mentioned, we will soon add r* and the Nowcast, which are under construction. But most important, panta rhei: we continuously work on new ideas, new questions, and new research projects, and we will not hesitate to ditch old products whenever we feel they have outlived their purpose. Models and tools have to evolve to keep up with the frontier in academia, and most important with the times and the new issues that we as researchers need to confront. 

Q: How does AMEC relate to the Center for Microeconomic Data (CMD), and are you planning to collaborate on any major topics?

We do not have any firm plans yet—but I can see a lot of scope for collaboration between the economists in the two centers (in fact, there is much of that going on already, see this Staff Report). The micro data collected by the Center for Microeconomic Data, both the household balance sheet and survey expectation data, can shed light on important macro questions.

Q: What is unique about AMEC?

Some centers within the Federal Reserve System are focused on specific data sets, like the CMD, and others on specific topics, inflation, for example. AMEC is different from all of these, in that it is devoted to studying and promoting tools for macroeconomic and econometric analysis, and applying them to an ever-changing set of questions and topics. Our product is not a data set, nor expertise in a specific subject, but is research in developing approaches and ideas for answering a variety of queries, bearing in mind that tomorrow’s key questions may be very different from today’s.

Q: What is the purpose of the Advisory Board, and who is on it?

The members of the AMEC Advisory Board are leaders in the field of economics. Chris Sims and Mike Woodford are beacons of the profession in econometrics and macroeconomics. Serena Ng is a prominent econometrician with expertise in both time series and machine learning techniques. Hélène Rey and Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé are renowned macroeconomists with pathbreaking works in both international finance and macro. Gianluca Violante is a leading scholar in the field of macroeconomics and inequality and has pioneered the models we use to investigate this subject. We will count on these people to help provide us guidance in terms of developing new tools and approaches and staying abreast of the latest development in academia. We are very honored they have accepted our invitation to be part of AMEC’s board.

Q: What is your vision for AMEC? What are its short- and long-term goals?  

The short- and long-term goals of the Center are the same: producing high quality research and engaging with academia, other central banks, and the public, on the most important questions of the day. This is what we aim to do with the Symposium on the implications of inequality for macroeconomics in general and monetary policy in particular. And we’ll keep at it.

Products of the Applied Microeconomics and Econometrics Center

  • Weekly Economic Index  The WEI is an index of real economic activity using timely and relevant high-frequency data. It represents the common component of ten different daily and weekly series covering consumer behavior, the labor market, and production. The WEI is scaled to the four-quarter GDP growth rate; for example, if the WEI reads -2 percent and the current level of the WEI persists for an entire quarter, we would expect, on average, GDP that quarter to be 2 percent lower than a year previously.
  • The New York Fed DSGE Model  The New York Fed dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model has been used to forecast the economy since 2011 (see this FOMC memo) and is one of the few examples of a central bank model whose forecasts are made available in real time to the public.
  • The Treasury Term Premia  Economists Tobias Adrian, Richard Crump, and Emanuel Moench (or “ACM”) present Treasury term premia estimates for maturities from one to ten years from 1961 to the present. Data are available at daily and monthly frequencies, the latter being end-of-month observations. ACM further estimate fitted yields and the expected average short-term rates for the same set of maturities. The analysis is based on a five-factor, no-arbitrage term structure model.
  • Underlying Inflation Gauge  The UIG provides a measure of underlying inflation and is defined as the persistent part of the common component of monthly inflation. It captures sustained movements in inflation from information contained in a broad set of price, real activity, and financial data.
  • Yield Curve as a Leading Indicator  This model uses the slope of the yield curve, or “term spread,” to calculate the probability of a recession in the United States twelve months ahead. The term spread is defined as the difference between ten-year and three-month Treasury rates.

Marco Del Negro is a vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.


Disclaimer
The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author.

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Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion

The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of…
The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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The EasyJet share price shed over 3% today to give up a chunk of the gains the budget airline had made earlier in the week. The new slide came after it announced a £213 loss for the last quarter of the year covering the Christmas period, taking losses for the Covid-19 pandemic period to £2.2 billion. The airline also told investors it is still burning through £150 million in cash every month as it struggles to build capacity back up.

The short-haul airline that makes most of its income shuttling holidaymakers and business travellers around Europe said it is still only operating at around half of its pre-pandemic capacity. However, it is hopeful that pent-up demand and an end to travel restrictions mean it will return to pre-pandemic levels by summer and enjoy much brisker trade than of late over the Easter and spring period.

easy jet plc

But before then the airline company will again have to absorb deep losses over the current quarter, which is traditionally its weakest of the year. Even a strong summer period, think most analysts, will be insufficient to see the company return to profit this year. EasyJet’s value is still less than half of what it was in February 2020 before the coronavirus-induced market sell-off that hit later that month and saw markets dive into March before starting to recover. The share prices of rival budget airlines Ryanair and WizzAir have recovered much more strongly in comparison to EasyJet’s and are now close to their pre-pandemic levels. There have been concerns around whether EasyJet could survive the pandemic but investors contributed £1.2 billion last autumn to bolster its balance sheet.

The EasyJet share price is closing the week at around £6.15 compared to over £15 before the pandemic. However, there is now hope the worst may be behind the airline and it can begin its, potentially long, journey back to health. Chief executive John Lundgren attempted to soften the announcement of another hefty loss with a bullish statement on where things go from here for his company:

“Booking volumes jumped in the UK following the welcome reduction of travel restrictions announced on January 5, which have been sustained and given a further boost from the UK government’s decision this week to remove all testing requirements.”

“We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past. We see a strong summer ahead, with pent-up demand that will see easyJet returning to near-2019 levels of capacity, with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well.”

For now, however, forward guidance for the immediate quarter remains cautious with the company admitting it has fallen short of its expectations to be at 80% capacity by this quarter, sitting at just 67%. However, with most analysts confident the company will eventually return to strength, and profit in the 2022-23 financial year, EasyJet shares could offer a good buying opportunity at current levels.

The post Easyjet share price down 3% as pandemic losses hit £2.2 billion first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwal

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Authoritarian Madness: The Slippery Slope From Lockdowns To Concentration Camps

Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwald, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.”

- Rod Serling, Deaths-Head Revisited

In the politically charged, polarizing tug-of-war that is the debate over COVID-19, we find ourselves buffeted by fear over a viral pandemic that continues to wreak havoc with lives and the economy, threats of vaccine mandates and financial penalties for noncompliance, and discord over how to legislate the public good without sacrificing individual liberty.

The discord is getting more discordant by the day.

Just recently, for instance, the Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board suggested that government officials should mandate mass vaccinations and deploy the National Guard “to ensure that people without proof of vaccination would not be allowed, well, anywhere.”

In other words, lock up the unvaccinated and use the military to determine who gets to be “free.”

These tactics have been used before.

This is why significant numbers of people are worried: because this is the slippery slope that starts with well-meaning intentions for the greater good and ends with tyrannical abuses no one should tolerate.

For a glimpse at what the future might look like if such a policy were to be enforced, look beyond America’s borders.

In Italy, the unvaccinated are banned from restaurants, bars and public transportation, and could face suspensions from work and monthly fines. Similarly, France will ban the unvaccinated from most public venues.

In Austria, anyone who has not complied with the vaccine mandate could face fines up to $4100. Police will be authorized to carry out routine checks and demand proof of vaccination, with penalties of as much as $685 for failure to do so.

In China, which has adopted a zero tolerance, “zero COVID” strategy, whole cities—some with populations in the tens of millions—are being forced into home lockdowns for weeks on end, resulting in mass shortages of food and household supplies. Reports have surfaced of residents “trading cigarettes for cabbage, dishwashing liquid for apples and sanitary pads for a small pile of vegetables. One resident traded a Nintendo Switch console for a packet of instant noodles and two steamed buns.”

For those unfortunate enough to contract COVID-19, China has constructed “quarantine camps” throughout the country: massive complexes boasting thousands of small, metal boxes containing little more than a bed and a toilet. Detainees—including children, pregnant women and the elderly— were reportedly ordered to leave their homes in the middle of the night, transported to the quarantine camps in buses and held in isolation.

If this last scenario sounds chillingly familiar, it should.

Eighty years ago, another authoritarian regime established more than 44,000 quarantine camps for those perceived as “enemies of the state”: racially inferior, politically unacceptable or simply noncompliant.

While the majority of those imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camps, forced labor camps, incarceration sites and ghettos were Jews, there were also Polish nationals, gypsies, Russians, political dissidents, resistance fighters, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

Culturally, we have become so fixated on the mass murders of Jewish prisoners by the Nazis that we overlook the fact that the purpose of these concentration camps were initially intended to “incarcerate and intimidate the leaders of political, social, and cultural movements that the Nazis perceived to be a threat to the survival of the regime.”

As the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum explains:

“Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were political prisoners—German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats—as well as Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of ‘asocial’ or socially deviant behavior. Many of these sites were called concentration camps. The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment that are acceptable in a constitutional democracy.”

How do you get from there to here, from Auschwitz concentration camps to COVID quarantine centers?

Connect the dots.

You don’t have to be unvaccinated or a conspiracy theorist or even anti-government to be worried about what lies ahead. You just have to recognize the truth in the warning: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is not about COVID-19. Nor is it about politics, populist movements, or any particular country.

This is about what happens when good, generally decent people—distracted by manufactured crises, polarizing politics, and fighting that divides the populace into warring “us vs. them” camps—fail to take note of the looming danger that threatens to wipe freedom from the map and place us all in chains.

It’s about what happens when any government is empowered to adopt a comply-or-suffer-the-consequences mindset that is enforced through mandates, lockdowns, penalties, detention centers, martial law, and a disregard for the rights of the individual.

The slippery slope begins in just this way, with propaganda campaigns about the public good being more important than individual liberty, and it ends with lockdowns and concentration camps.

The danger signs are everywhere.

Claudio Ronco, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jew and a specialist in 18th-century music, recognizes the signs. Because of his decision to remain unvaccinated, Ronco is trapped inside his house, unable to move about in public without a digital vaccination card. He can no longer board a plane, check into a hotel, eat at a restaurant or get a coffee at a bar. He has been ostracized by friends, shut out of public life, and will soon face monthly fines for insisting on his right to bodily integrity and individual freedom.

For all intents and purposes, Ronco has become an undesirable in the eyes of the government, forced into isolation so he doesn’t risk contaminating the rest of the populace.

This is the slippery slope: a government empowered to restrict movements, limit individual liberty, and isolate “undesirables” to prevent the spread of a disease is a government that has the power to lockdown a country, label whole segments of the population a danger to national security, and force those undesirables—a.k.a. extremists, dissidents, troublemakers, etc.—into isolation so they don’t contaminate the rest of the populace.

The world has been down this road before, too.

Others have ignored the warning signs. We cannot afford to do so.

As historian Milton Mayer recounts in his seminal book on Hitler’s rise to power, They Thought They Were Free:

“Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people‑—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the 'national enemies', without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.”

The German people chose to ignore the truth and believe the lie.

They were not oblivious to the horrors taking place around them. As historian Robert Gellately points out, “[A]nyone in Nazi Germany who wanted to find out about the Gestapo, the concentration camps, and the campaigns of discrimination and persecutions need only read the newspapers.”

The warning signs were there, blinking incessantly like large neon signs.

“Still,” Gellately writes, “the vast majority voted in favor of Nazism, and in spite of what they could read in the press and hear by word of mouth about the secret police, the concentration camps, official anti-Semitism, and so on. . . . [T]here is no getting away from the fact that at that moment, ‘the vast majority of the German people backed him.’”

Half a century later, the wife of a prominent German historian, neither of whom were members of the Nazi party, opined: “[O]n the whole, everyone felt well. . . . And there were certainly eighty percent who lived productively and positively throughout the time. . . . We also had good years. We had wonderful years.”

In other words, as long as their creature comforts remained undiminished, as long as their bank accounts remained flush, as long as they weren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, life was good.

Life is good in America, too, as long as you’re able to keep cocooning yourself in political fantasies that depict a world in which your party is always right and everyone else is wrong, while distracting yourself with bread-and-circus entertainment that bears no resemblance to reality.

Indeed, life in America may be good for the privileged few who aren’t being locked up, locked down, discriminated against, persecuted, starved, beaten, shot, stripped, jailed or killed, but it’s getting worse by the day for the rest of us.

Which brings me back to the present crisis: COVID-19 is not the Holocaust, and those who advocate vaccine mandates, lockdowns and quarantine camps are not Hitler, but this still has the makings of a slippery slope.

The means do not justify the ends: we must find other ways of fighting a pandemic without resorting to mandates and lockdowns and concentration camps. To do otherwise is to lay the groundwork for another authoritarian monster to rise up and wreak havoc.

If we do not want to repeat the past, then we must learn from past mistakes.

January 27 marks Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a day for remembering those who died at the hands of Hitler’s henchmen and those who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

Yet remembering is not enough. We can do better. We must do better.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the world is teetering on the edge of authoritarian madness.

All it will take is one solid push for tyranny to prevail.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/28/2022 - 23:40

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Eli Lilly says FDA could deny expanded use of arthritis drug for eczema

Eli Lilly said on Jan. 28 the company expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to decline the approval of expanded use of the rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant as a treatment for adults with moderate-to-severe eczema.

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Eli Lilly says FDA could deny expanded use of arthritis drug for eczema

(Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co (LLY.N) said on Friday it expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to decline the approval of expanded use of its rheumatoid arthritis drug as a treatment for adults with moderate-to-severe eczema.

“At this point, the company does not have alignment with the FDA on the indicated population,” the drugmaker said.

Olumiant, discovered by Incyte Corp (INCY.O) and licensed to Lilly, belongs to a class of drugs called JAK inhibitors, which came under regulatory scrutiny after Pfizer’s (PFE.N) arthritis drug Xeljanz showed an increased risk of serious heart-related problems and cancer in a February trial. read more

The path to approval for the drug has been arduous, with the FDA extending its review timeline repeatedly.

AbbVie’s (ABBV.N) rival eczema drug, Rinvoq, also faced similar regulatory hurdles before being finally approved by the FDA earlier this month, as well as Pfizer’s Cibinqo. read more

“While not specified by the company, we wonder if the FDA may be looking to limit the use of the product (Olumiant) to an even smaller subset of patients than what Rinvoq and Cibinqo were approved for,” Mizuho analyst Vamil Divan said in a client note.

An Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical manufacturing plant is pictured at 50 ImClone Drive in Branchburg, New Jersey, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Lilly also said it has decided to discontinue its program for testing use of Olumiant in autoimmune disease lupus, based on early results from two late-stage trials.

The decision would adversely affect Lilly which continues to bet on upcoming regulatory decisions on the drug for treating COVID-19 for certain hospitalized patients and severe alopecia areata, a type of hair loss.

In the United States, the drug is already authorized for emergency use in hospitalized adults with COVID-19 and children aged two or older requiring supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation. Lilly awaits Olumiant’s full approval in certain hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with an anticipated regulatory action in the second quarter.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shinjini Ganguli

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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