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Bank failures

The previous recession was clearly associated with substantial problems in the financial sectors. As the graph shows, there has been a significant number of bank failures, as recorded by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which is responsible for managing the closure process and insuring depositors. The number of failures, however, is nowhere near the peak around 1989, the time of the savings and loan crisis. The recession around that time involved different financial problems and thankfully was much less deep than the previous recession.

How this graph was created: Search for “bank failures” and then change the graph type to “Area” under graph settings in the graph tab.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: BKFTTLA641N

What’s the “normal” unemployment rate?

As the U.S. unemployment rate inches down, it seems reasonable to ask when it will be back to normal. One measure of “normal” is the natural rate of unemployment, sometimes referred to as NAIRU, published by the Congressional Budget Office. This measure is meant to contain all relevant information except for cyclical factors in the unemployment rate. Thus, when there is no difference between the NAIRU and the standard unemployment rate, the standard unemployment rate should be back to normal. Note that the natural rate is calculated, not measured, and thus is subject to the assumptions made. Some of those assumptions relate to whether structural factors should be taken into account. This question led (temporarily) to two different natural rates during the previous recession.

How this graph was created: Search for NAIRU, select both series, and add them to a graph. Then add the civilian unemployment rate. Finally, change the end date to the current date.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: NROU, NROUST, UNRATE

International residential prices

FRED recently added a long list of international residential prices from the Bank for International Settlements. The graph above, which offers only a small glimpse of what FRED has to offer, compares the evolution of residential prices for a few countries. Note that the indices are all normalized in 2010, which highlights the large run-up and drop prior to that year in the United States. Similar events also occurred in the other countries, though the effects were much more muted. Surprisingly, Canada seems particularly immune from developments in the United States, except for a temporary drop in 2008.

How this graph was created: Go to the BIS release and select the relevant series. Click on “Add to graph.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: QCAR628BIS, QGBR628BIS, QUSR628BIS, QXMR628BIS

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