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The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is the center of the Eighth District of the Federal Reserve System. This District includes Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, western Kentucky and Tennessee, and northern Mississippi.

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Antebellum “free” banking and the era of Bitcoin : The past and present of unregulated currency

[embedded content] Smack in the middle of summer, you may find yourself with more free time, a freewheeling attitude, and maybe a wild inclination to pick up a new hobby, like spikeball… Or maybe even try out the hot new investment—cryptocurrency! In short, cryptocurrency is a digital asset that is not regulated by a central authority, in the way money is regulated by the Federal Reserve System in the United States. No governing authority determines how much, by whom, or when crypto is...

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The long and the short of the workweek : Weekly hours of work by sector

[embedded content] Not everyone has the same workweek. One factor that determines your working hours is the sector you work in. As the graph above shows, there are substantial differences among sectors, due to both regular hours and overtime. Indeed, in mining and logging, the average workweek is over 47 hours long. At the other extreme, workers in the leisure industry on average work only 25 hours. The latter may be a special case, though, because of the prevalence of part-time work....

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Where health is lacking : Mapping public health issues with GeoFRED

View on GeoFRED® GeoFRED maps can help us understand a lot of things, including trends in regional socioeconomic data, which could ultimately provide insights for policy recommendations. In this post, we look at two important indicators of health throughout the United States: premature deaths and preventable hospital admissions. High levels of premature deaths indicate issues with public health. (See a previous blog post for some background on this concept.) The South has a...

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Is college still worth it? : Re-examining the college premium

[embedded content] A recent symposium held by the Center for Household Financial Stability at the St. Louis Fed looks at the question of whether the college premium is still increasing and positive, using new data from the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances. On an absolute level, college graduates earn more than high school graduates, as shown in the graph above. This is consistent with the understanding that the benefits of a college education are greater than the costs. [embedded...

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Why is it so difficult to live where you work? : Housing costs and homeownership in economic centers

View on GeoFRED® In some areas of the U.S., housing has become so expensive that people find it difficult or impossble to afford housing anywhere near where they work. The recent focus on the homeless population in Los Angeles highlights the most extreme form of this situation: Many of the homeless in that area are not only employed, but also are experiencing homelessness for the first time. Unaffordable housing and long commutes are particularly burdensome for low-income individuals,...

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Why does cost of living vary so much? : Housing, housing, housing

View on GeoFRED® If the map above looks familiar, either you’re experiencing déjà vu or you read our post last year about regional price parities (RPPs), which measure cost of living in metropolitan areas. Cost of living is generally persistent over time, which is why our updated map of the 2016 RPPs looks eerily similar to last year’s map. (The data are released on a two-year lag, by the way.) A reminder: The national average cost of living is set equal to 100. So, an RPP above 100...

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Government revenue since the recent tax reform

[embedded content] The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 applies to taxes starting in 2018, and the first quarterly data on tax revenue are in. This graph compares current tax revenue categories with categories for the previous year. Most noticeable are a major drop in corporate tax income and the increase in taxes from production and imports. (In the latter case, both excise tax income and import duty income increased.) These changes are actually quite impressive: -35% for corporate tax...

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A fertility map : Where in the world is the population replacing itself?

View on GeoFRED® Populations can replace themselves by having children (fertility) and through immigration. Here, we focus on fertility. A general rule is that women must have an average of 2.1 children to maintain the population, with the extra 0.1 owing to the fact that some children will not reach the age of procreation. This GeoFRED map of the world shows how each country stands with respect to replacing itself. The color white indicates the country is below its replacement rate,...

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Where is rail heading? : Tracking freight and passengers on U.S. railroads

[embedded content] What’s the story with trains? It turns out that U.S. railroad transportation has some nuances. The graph above shows that the amount of freight transported by train dropped during the Great Recession, as expected. But freight transport doesn’t appear to have gotten back on track since then. Passenger transport, however, rebounded in a big way after the Great Recession and has sustained levels well above those in the early-to-mid 2000s. What’s behind the disparity...

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Paying interest on excess reserves : An additional policy tool for the Fed

[embedded content] Commercial banks must adhere to regulations, including so-called reserve requirements. That is, banks must hold a certain fraction of their deposits as cash in a Federal Reserve account; these are known as “required reserves.” Banks can choose to hold even more cash in those accounts than what the Federal Reserve requires; these are known as “excess reserves.” The graph above shows that required reserves are quite stable and grow as a constant fraction of total...

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