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Econ Focus

Jan. 31, 2020

Richmond Fed’s Econ Focus Looks at Recession Fears as Self-Fulfilling

Some economists believe businesses and consumers could, in effect, talk themselves into a recession — even if the fundamentals of the economy are good. How important is sentiment to the course of the economy? The latest issue of the Richmond Fed’s Econ Focus magazine looks at the research and what it means for the Fed and other central banks.

Also in this issue:

  • Tourism matters. The Fifth Federal Reserve District is home to a wealth of tourist attractions, from beaches in the Carolinas to historical destinations like Colonial Williamsburg and Harpers Ferry to urban centers like Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Leisure and hospitality is the District’s fifth largest industry by payroll employment. Are recent trends in levels of historical tourism cause for concern?
  • Telephone operators vs. automation: How humans won ... for a while. Automated switching eventually displaced the operators at the switchboards, almost all of them women. Rare in the annals of economic history, however, is that the operators kept their jobs for decades after the technology arrived.
  • Community Colleges: Who attends? Who pays? The 122 community colleges in the Fifth District are being shaped by demographic trends, dual enrollment of high school students and a desire of many students to use the community college experience as a bridge to four-year institutions. Public funding varies greatly, with community colleges in some Fifth District states receiving twice as much state and local public funding per student as those in others. What challenges do today’s community colleges face?
  • Interview. Janice Eberly of Northwestern University on stagnation in productivity growth, what’s different about investment in technology and why it isn’t enough just to persuade more students to go to college.
  • More. Coverage of other economic issues affecting the Fifth Federal Reserve District and the nation.

For a free subscription to Econ Focus, the economics magazine of the Richmond Fed, or for copies, call (800) 322-0565 or subscribe online. The articles also are available online.


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District — including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia — to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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Jim Strader (804) 697-8956 (804) 332-0207 (mobile)