Category Archives: Uncategorized

Who pays what in federal taxes?

In principle, we all have to pay taxes. That includes individuals and corporations. The graph attempts to answer the question of how much each source provides in federal taxes. It’s clear that individuals pay the lion’s share (which doesn’t include social security contributions), and the second-largest source is corporations.
The third-largest source is tariffs on imported goods and taxes levied at production. Now, who precisely “pays” these types of taxes is more difficult to determine, as it depends on the price elasticities involved. Let’s say a tariff increases or a new tariff is imposed. Does the seller absorb it or does the seller roll it over to consumers through a higher price tag? The answer depends on how sensitive each party is to price changes.
The smallest source of taxes is the entities abroad category. These entities may be expats filing their income taxes or businesses with some ties to the U.S.

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How expensive is it to service the national debt? : A battle between interest rates and growth rates

The U.S. federal debt has been rising steadily since the Great Recession and is currently 103 percent of GDP. So let’s enlist FRED to help us study the sustainability of this debt by looking at how much it costs to service it.
Neil Mehrotra recently described the cost of servicing public debt as dependent on the gap between the real interest rate on debt and the growth rate of real GDP: This gap captures the difference between the interest the government must pay to its lenders, in real terms, and the pace at which U.S. income increases. If U.S. income increases more rapidly, then interest payments on U.S. debt shouldn’t be a major burden.
The graph plots this measure of the cost of servicing the debt. (Here, the growth rate of real GDP is the sum of real GPD per capita growth and population growth, and the real interest rate is the difference

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The lowdown on loan delinquencies : Rates are lower than pre-recession levels…except for mortgages

We heard a lot about the surge in mortgage delinquencies during the past recession. In fact, many believe this was the origin of the crisis. FRED has delinquency data so let’s see how things look now.
The delinquency rates in the graph show the proportion of loans from the 100 largest U.S. banks that are more than 30 days past due. Mortgage delinquency is now considerably lower than at the height of the Great Recession, but it is still high compared with the two decades prior. In fact, it’s also higher than credit card delinquencies, something that could not have been foreseen before the past recession. The fact that credit card delinquencies are at their lowest recorded levels is part of the explanation, though. Delinquencies on leases and commercial loans are also at their lowest, or close to it, in the past 30 years or so. Thus, the mortgage market still

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Are we moving toward a cashless economy?

There’s a lot of talk that the U.S. is moving toward a cashless economy…at least in the sense that people are using more and more “plastic” (credit and debit cards) for transactions and that cryptocurrencies are becoming more popular. One test of this theory is to look at currency in circulation. If this measure stops growing while the economy is growing, it would be an indication that other forms of money have become more important and are serving as substitutes for currency. The graph above tells a different story: Currency in circulation is consistently growing more than the economy is. (Note: Both are nominal, not “real” inflation-adjusted measures). One caveat: U.S. dollars are also used quite a bit abroad. But dollar use abroad would have to increase much more than the U.S. economy for it to counteract a reduction in domestic currency demand. So it seems the question remains open.
How

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The unusual duration of unemployment : The scars of the Great Recession

The graph above shows the unemployment rate (right axis) and the average duration of unemployment (in weeks, left axis). It’s well known that the unemployment rate is currently very low. However, the duration of unemployment since the Great Recession has never been longer.* What’s going on?
The graph below has an answer. The share of long-term unemployment is significantly higher than in any other post-WWII period. Indeed, those unemployed for more than 6 months (in green) still represent over 20% of the unemployed, after a peak of over 45% in 2011. This share increases after recessions, but the most recent recession was deeper and much longer than the others. It’s also well-known that the long-term unemployed have a much harder time finding a job, leading to a catch-22 situation for them. And thus their numbers still persist at a high level.

How these graphs were created: Search for unemployment duration and click

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