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March 9, 2018

Monthly Wrap‑Up: February 2018

A recap of insights, analysis and discussions we don’t want you to miss. Each month we compile key highlights from selected publications, events, and perspectives to provide you with a deeper look into the work we do at the New York Fed.

Economic Press Briefing: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria

President Dudley and a panel of our economists held a press briefing covering Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Before the storms hit, Puerto Rico had been struggling for a long period with fiscal difficulties and poor economic conditions. And while the U.S. Virgin Islands, by some measures, weren’t as fiscally stressed, losses have been substantial.

“[In both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,] the combined impact of complex preexisting economic problems and the hurricanes has made recovery much more challenging.” — President William C. Dudley

Our economists examined the fallout on Puerto Rico and USVI — including loss of life, physical damage, population loss, and economic disruption from widespread power and telecom outages — and discussed the economic outlook compared to other disasters.

Watch the video, read our blog, and explore additional resources.

Markets: Update on the Initial Publication of Treasury Repo Reference Rates

Mark your calendars for April 3, 2018, when the New York Fed plans to start publishing three Treasury repo reference rates. The following rates, along with related statistics on volume and dollar amounts, will be published each business day at approximately 8:00 a.m. ET:

  • Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR)
  • Broad General Collateral Rate (BGCR)
  • Tri-Party General Collateral Rate (TGCR)

The new rates will provide greater transparency into conditions in the Treasury repo market. Learn more about our role in reference rates.

Speech: President Dudley on Making Globalization Work

In remarks at the Central Bank of Brazil, President Dudley talked about the benefits of open trade and the challenges and pace of globalization. Emerging market economies have accounted for 70% of global economic growth since the financial crisis, twice their share from 20 years ago. Today, the U.S. is Brazil’s second-largest export market, with bilateral trade flows in goods up from $17 billion in 1994 to nearly $57 billion in 2016.

President Dudley also discussed alternatives to protectionism and the importance of support and skills development for displaced workers.

Report: Household Debt Rises, Credit Card Delinquencies Up

Total household debt increased to $13.15 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017, marking the fifth consecutive year of positive annual debt growth. There were increases in mortgage, student, auto, and credit card debt, and a modest decline in home equity lines of credit. Key findings include:

  • Mortgages, the largest form of household debt, increased by $139 billion, the most substantial increase in several quarters.
  • The share of mortgage balances that were 90 or more days delinquent continued to improve.
  • Credit card balances increased, and flows into serious delinquency have increased since the third quarter of 2016.

About the Report: The Household Debt and Credit Report offers an updated snapshot of household trends in borrowing and indebtedness, including data about mortgages, student loans, credit cards, and auto loans.

Report: Business Climate Index at Highest Level in More Than a Decade

The region’s service sector activity continued to grow strongly, according to our February Business Leaders Survey. Despite dropping two points, February’s index remained firmly positive at 15.9, its fourth consecutive month above 15.

This month’s highlights include:

  • Indexes for input prices and selling prices both reached multiyear highs.
  • The employment index moved up five points to 15.5, continuing its moderate increase.
  • Firms were very optimistic about future conditions.

About the Report: The Business Leaders Survey is a monthly survey that asks business executives at companies across the Second District, which includes New York State, Northern New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, about recent and expected trends in key business indicators, including business climate, wages, employees, prices, and more.

Analysis: Hey, Economist! Decrypt Cryptocurrencies for Us

Curious about bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? Economists in our Money and Payments Studies function answer questions about digital money, such as what utility it might provide relative to other forms of money.

Learn more about why trust and convenience are needed for cryptocurrencies to succeed.

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This article was originally published by the New York Fed on Medium.

The views expressed in this article are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.


The Teller Window is a publication featuring expert knowledge and insight from the New York Fed, including thoughts and perspectives from senior leaders. It offers a deep look at issues that matter to the Federal Reserve’s Second District and the nation.

Articles on the Teller Window focus on the people and programs that help the New York Fed support the U.S. economy. They are written for a wide audience with the aim of illustrating what we are doing and why it matters. Stories include editorials, interviews, explainers, and reports on events and trends in our communities and region. The Teller Window is edited by the Communications and Outreach Group on behalf of the New York Fed. Separately, for analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy, please see Liberty Street Economics.

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