Renuka Diwan, Sylvain Leduc, and Thomas M. Mertens
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate to essentially zero. It took further measures to support the functioning of financial markets and the flow of credit. Nevertheless, the economic downturn is putting downward pressure on inflation, which had already been running below the Fed’s 2% target for several years. This raises additional concerns that inflation expectations could decline and push inflation down further, ultimately hampering economic activity. A monetary policy framework based on average-inflation targeting could help address these challenges.
Job acceptance decisions weigh the value of an entire job spell relative to remaining unemployed. There exists a reservation level of benefit payments in this dynamic decision problem at which an individual is indifferent between accepting and refusing an offer. This reservation benefit is a simple statistic to test the job acceptance deterrence effects of current unemployment insurance (UI) payments, summarizing the decision problem conditional on the believed state of the labor market and the weeks of UI compensation remaining. Estimating the reservation benefit for a wide range of US workers suggests few would turn down an offer to return to work at the previous wage under the increased UI payments and extended duration provided by the CARES Act.