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Xuequan Elsie Peng and Chima Simpson-Bell
In this paper, we present a framework for assessing the effectiveness of different business closure policies, using New York City as a case study. Business closure policies have been widely implemented in an attempt to slow down the pandemic, but it is difficult to measure the contribution of closures of specific industries to virus transmission. Our framework allows us to estimate the impact of specific industry closures on the spread of COVID-19 via their effects on aggregate mobility. We find that early reopening led to a prolonged pandemic and a large case surge in the second wave during 2020, though the reopening allowed the city to regain its economic function as a consumption hub. An alternative policy that extends the lockdown is found to be more cost-effective as it makes future traveling safer and prevents the economy from relapsing into a more stringent policy regime.
Xuequan Elsie Peng and Chima Simpson-Bell

In this paper, we present a framework for assessing the effectiveness of different business closure policies, using New York City as a case study. Business closure policies have been widely implemented in an attempt to slow down the pandemic, but it is difficult to measure the contribution of closures of specific industries to virus transmission. Our framework allows us to estimate the impact of specific industry closures on the spread of COVID-19 via their effects on aggregate mobility. We find that early reopening led to a prolonged pandemic and a large case surge in the second wave during 2020, though the reopening allowed the city to regain its economic function as a consumption hub. An alternative policy that extends the lockdown is found to be more cost-effective as it makes future traveling safer and prevents the economy from relapsing into a more stringent policy regime.

Xuequan Elsie Peng and Chima Simpson-Bell
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen, and Chima Simpson-Bell
We document a decline in the dollar share of international reserves since the turn of the century. This decline reflects active portfolio diversification by central bank reserve managers; it is not a byproduct of changes in exchange rates and interest rates, of reserve accumulation by a small handful of central banks with large and distinctive balance sheets, or of changes in coverage of surveys of reserve composition. Strikingly, the decline in the dollar’s share has not been accompanied by an increase in the shares of the pound sterling, yen and euro, other long-standing reserve currencies and units that, along with the dollar, have historically comprised the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights. Rather, the shift out of dollars has been in two directions: a quarter into the Chinese renminbi, and three quarters into the currencies of smaller countries that have played a more limited role as reserve currencies. A characterization of the evolution of the international reserve system in the last 20 years is thus as ongoing movement away from the dollar, a recent if still modest rise in the role of the renminbi, and changes in market liquidity, relative returns and reserve management enhancing the attractions of nontraditional reserve currencies. These observations provide hints of how the international system may evolve going forward.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen, and Chima Simpson-Bell
After moving slowly downward for the better part of four decades, central bank gold holdings have risen since the Global Financial Crisis. We identify 14 “active diversifiers,” defined as countries that purchased gold and raised its share in total reserves by at least 5 percentage points over the last two decades. In contrast to the diversification of foreign currency reserves, which has been undertaken by advanced and developing country central banks alike, active diversifiers into gold are exclusively emerging markets. We document two sets of factors contributing to this trend. First, gold appeals to central bank reserve managers as a safe haven in periods of economic, financial and geopolitical volatility, when the return on alternative financial assets is low. Second, the imposition of financial sanctions by the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Japan, the main reserve-issuing economies, is associated with an increase in the share of central bank reserves held in the form of gold. There is some evidence that multilateral sanctions imposed by these, and other countries have a larger impact than unilateral sanctions on the share of reserves held in gold, since the latter leave scope for shifting reserves into the currencies of other non-sanctioning countries.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen, and Chima Simpson-Bell

We document a decline in the dollar share of international reserves since the turn of the century. This decline reflects active portfolio diversification by central bank reserve managers; it is not a byproduct of changes in exchange rates and interest rates, of reserve accumulation by a small handful of central banks with large and distinctive balance sheets, or of changes in coverage of surveys of reserve composition. Strikingly, the decline in the dollar’s share has not been accompanied by an increase in the shares of the pound sterling, yen and euro, other long-standing reserve currencies and units that, along with the dollar, have historically comprised the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights. Rather, the shift out of dollars has been in two directions: a quarter into the Chinese renminbi, and three quarters into the currencies of smaller countries that have played a more limited role as reserve currencies. A characterization of the evolution of the international reserve system in the last 20 years is thus as ongoing movement away from the dollar, a recent if still modest rise in the role of the renminbi, and changes in market liquidity, relative returns and reserve management enhancing the attractions of nontraditional reserve currencies. These observations provide hints of how the international system may evolve going forward.

Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen, and Chima Simpson-Bell
Mr. Paul A Austin, Mr. Marco Marini, Alberto Sanchez, Chima Simpson-Bell, and James Tebrake
As the pandemic heigthened policymakers’ demand for more frequent and timely indicators to assess economic activities, traditional data collection and compilation methods to produce official indicators are falling short—triggering stronger interest in real time data to provide early signals of turning points in economic activity. In this paper, we examine how data extracted from the Google Places API and Google Trends can be used to develop high frequency indicators aligned to the statistical concepts, classifications, and definitions used in producing official measures. The approach is illustrated by use of Google data-derived indicators that predict well the GDP trajectories of selected countries during the early stage of COVID-19. To this end, we developed a methodological toolkit for national compilers interested in using Google data to enhance the timeliness and frequency of economic indicators.
Mr. Paul A Austin, Mr. Marco Marini, Alberto Sanchez, Chima Simpson-Bell, and James Tebrake
Mr. Paul A Austin, Mr. Marco Marini, Alberto Sanchez, Chima Simpson-Bell, and James Tebrake

As the pandemic heigthened policymakers’ demand for more frequent and timely indicators to assess economic activities, traditional data collection and compilation methods to produce official indicators are falling short—triggering stronger interest in real time data to provide early signals of turning points in economic activity. In this paper, we examine how data extracted from the Google Places API and Google Trends can be used to develop high frequency indicators aligned to the statistical concepts, classifications, and definitions used in producing official measures. The approach is illustrated by use of Google data-derived indicators that predict well the GDP trajectories of selected countries during the early stage of COVID-19. To this end, we developed a methodological toolkit for national compilers interested in using Google data to enhance the timeliness and frequency of economic indicators.