At the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's annual banking conference this month, researchers presented studies on electronic payments, credit card use, and supervisory techniques.
The papers these presentations were based upon will be published in the fall by the Chicago Fed. Draft copies may be ordered by calling 312-322- 5111.
Despite government efforts to encourage their use, electronic payments will comprise only about half of all noncash transactions by 2010, according to David Humphrey of Florida State University and Lawrence Pulley of the College of William and Mary.
Using a computer model, they estimated that consumers would use electronic payment systems for 45% to 58% of their transactions 12 years from now. Currently, consumers use electronic systems for 23% of their payments.
More than 175 checks will continue to be written annually by the average U.S. citizen, they said, noting that only consumers in Italy, Ireland, and Iceland write more checks per capita than U.S. consumers.
Michael Moskow, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said electronic payments are having trouble taking hold because the United States has such an efficient check processing system. Also, he said, U.S. consumers make fewer cash payments, which are the easiest to shift to electronic formats.
But Mr. Moskow rejected calls by some at the conference for the Fed to set goals for reducing check use. For instance, Brookings Institution scholar Martin Mayer urged the Fed to set a goal of reducing the share of payments made by check to 33% by 2003, from 66%.
The study is titled "Retail Payment Instruments: Costs, Barriers, and Future Use."
Efforts to extend credit to more lower-income earners, blue-collar workers, and unmarried people explains why credit card delinquency rates are rising, according to Donald P. Morgan and Sandra E. Black of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
"Borrowers are different, and they are riskier," Mr. Morgan said. "This explains why chargeoffs are higher."
The researchers studied data from 1989 and 1995. They found that delinquency rates jumped 250 basis points. Of this increase, about 70 basis points could be attributed to the fact that average debt-to-income ratios of borrowers had increased to 55% in 1995, from 48% in 1989. Another 24 basis points was attributable to the increase in workers with cards who identified themselves as laborers; 4 basis points was associated with more single people having cards.
The study also found that consumers were more willing to use credit to finance vacations or living expenses.
The study is titled "The Changing Mix of Bank Card Borrowers and the Rising Rate of Chargeoffs."
Investors would benefit if regulators published Camels ratings of banks, according to a study by Robert DeYoung and William W. Lang at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Mark J. Flannery at the University of Florida, and Sorin M. Sorescu at the University of Houston.
The study found that examiners routinely uncover valuable data about the safety and soundness of banks months before the market discovers the same information. Also, examiners are more likely to discover negative news than positive news.
If made public, Camels ratings could be used by the market to discipline banks that acted recklessly, the researchers said.
Government monitoring is particularly effective for small banks, which are less likely to issue traded debentures and are followed by fewer analysts, the researchers wrote in "The Information Advantage of Specialized Monitors: The Case of Bank Examiners."