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Philadelphia, PA – The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia today launched the Consumer Finance Institute, a new initiative focused on developing research on consumer behavior and its effect on U.S. economic growth and financial stability. Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker announced the Institute today at the Philadelphia Fed’s ninth biennial research conference, New Perspectives on Consumer Behavior in Credit & Payments Markets.
The Institute builds upon a large body of consumer-related research produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia over the last 20 years in areas such as cards (credit, debit, and prepaid), student loans, consumer bankruptcy, homeownership, and payment systems.
The new initiative will engage scholars, the financial industry, the regulatory community, consumer groups, and the public sector to collaborate and share insights on consumer finance to advance knowledge of consumer behavior and inform policy decisions that affect the U.S. economy.
“The Consumer Finance Institute will conduct timely research on what consumers buy and invest in, and how they finance purchases and investments,” said President Harker. “Since U.S. consumers account for approximately 70 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, a better understanding of consumer behavior will provide a better understanding of the U.S. economy as a whole.”
The Institute will also enable the Philadelphia Fed to enhance its research on developments in consumer payment markets. Consumers are exposed to an ever-expanding set of payment options, and thus they are changing their payment behavior. The security and efficiency of payment systems, old and new, are first-order issues for consumers and the economy as a whole.
The Institute supports a core mission of the Federal Reserve System: to ensure a robust financial system that promotes economic growth and provides a fair, transparent consumer financial services market.
The September 7–8 conference brought together economists and researchers to discuss topics such as the impact of a local employment shock on unsecured credit, regulating household leverage, and the effect of health insurance on mortgage delinquencies.
Serving eastern and central Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware, the Philadelphia Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, together with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the Federal Reserve System.