“Monetary buffers have been depleted,” said Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, which sponsored the conference this weekend where the research was released. A decline in rates over the past decade means the Fed’s recent experience of running out of room to cut them after lowering them to zero will not be “a one-time event,” he said.
Mr. Rosengren and his co-authors, Boston Fed economists Joe Peek and Geoffrey Tootell, ran an experiment that shows how a recession might affect states assuming a traditional monetary-policy response, in which the Fed could cut its short-term benchmark rate by 5 percentage points.
Then they looked at two other alternatives. In both scenarios, monetary policy couldn’t fully respond because the Fed had raised rates to only 2% before the hypothetical downturn. But in the last scenario, regulatory, state and local, and federal fiscal buffers were also depleted because they weren’t built up before the recession.