Measuring and Managing Federal Financial Risk

Measuring and Managing Federal Financial Risk

Deborah Lucas

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226496580

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

The U.S. government is the world's largest financial institution, providing credit and assuming risk through diverse activities. But the potential cost and risk of these actions and obligations remain poorly understood and only partially measured. Government budgetary and financial accounting rules, which largely determine the information available to federal decision makers, have only just begun to address these issues. However, recently there has been a push to rethink how these programs are valued and accounted for, and some progress has been made in applying modern valuation methods—such as options pricing, risk-adjusted discount rates, and value at risk—to these types of obligation. This book contains new research, both empirical and methodological, on the measurement and management of these costs and risks. The analyses encompass a broad spectrum of federal programs, including housing, catastrophe insurance, student loans, social security, and environmental liabilities. Collectively, the chapters here demonstrate that the logic of financial economics can be a useful tool for studying a range of federal activities.