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Econ Focus First Quarter 2021

May 6, 2021

Richmond Fed Looks at the Post-Pandemic Future of Cities

Cities have long been engines of economic growth. But the widespread adoption of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has led many to question how important physical proximity really is. The latest issue of the Richmond Fed’s Econ Focus magazine looks at research on how remote work and other adaptations to the virus are likely to affect major cities — and their economic vitality.

Also in this issue:

  • The Fed’s new framework. Most people know that the Fed makes periodic monetary policy changes by adjusting interest rates. Less widely known is that in August 2020, the Fed unveiled a new monetary policy framework to better respond to the challenges it faces today.
  • A look back at financial repression. Financial repression, as economists call it, occurs when governments resort to unconventional policies to reduce the cost of their debts. Examples include controls on interest rates and on foreign exchange transactions. Though often associated with developing countries, many advanced countries used financial repression in the decades after World War II to deal with their debts.
  • Men, in and out of the labor force. Over the past 50 years, male labor force participation in the United States has fallen by more than 10 percentage points. During the pandemic, it fell further. Over the same half-century, the male share of undergraduate college enrollment has fallen considerably as well. What are the factors behind these declines?
  • Turning stormwater green. Within the Fifth District, stormwater runoff is the fastest-growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. Some communities have responded with green infrastructure, such as green roofs, porous pavement and rain gardens.
  • Interview. Matthew Jackson of Stanford University on human networks, the friendship paradox and the information economics of protest movements.
  • 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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