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Cover to Econ Focus 4Q 2021

Dec. 17, 2021

Richmond Fed Looks at the Pandemic-Era Startup Boom

The recovery from the COVID-19 recession has had a surprising feature: new business applications have rebounded sharply since the initial lockdowns in 2020 and are now even higher than pre-pandemic levels. This surge of interest in starting businesses could reverse a long-running startup drought that left the U.S. economy less dynamic. The latest issue of the Richmond Fed’s Econ Focus magazine looks at the startup surge, where it came from, and where it seems to be going.

Also in this issue:

Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin on forward guidance. Starting in the early 2000s, the Fed began to provide information about the likely future path of monetary policy through “forward guidance.” In his President’s Message column, Barkin looks at the challenges involved in crafting forward guidance.

Predicting inflation. Following a period of historically high inflation measures, economists and Fed policymakers are studying whether inflation will continue to build. But forecasting inflation is notoriously difficult — research shows that markets, consumers, and economists have rarely anticipated past changes in its direction.

An evolving role for college. Student debt in the United States has reached more than $1.5 trillion. As the financial burden of higher education has worsened for many, there’s increasing discussion of alternatives to college degrees as a gateway to good jobs.

Genghis Khan, trade warrior. Genghis Khan established an empire that extended from China to the Caspian Sea. But his legacy extends far beyond his military deeds. Among the Mongol Empire’s most enduring accomplishments were the development of the Silk Road and an enormous expansion of global trade.

Interview. Harvard’s Edward Glaeser, a top researcher on the economics of cities and regions, discusses the strengths of downtowns, the future of small towns, and the “Yes iIn My Back Yard” reaction to restrictive development rules.

More. Coverage of other economic issues affecting the Fifth Federal Reserve District and the nation.

For a free print subscription to Econ Focus, the economics magazine of the Richmond Fed, or for copies, sign up or call (800) 322-0565. Sign up for a free email subscription. 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)