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From AEAStat staff:

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System invites comments on the design of its Census of Finance Companies and Survey of Finance Companies by March 16, 2020.

Finance companies are defined as companies whose largest portion of assets is made up of consumer or business loans or leases, excluding commercial banks, cooperative banks, investment banks, savings banks, savings and loan institutions and industrial loan corporations or their subsidiaries. The definition includes companies whose largest portion of assets is made up of real estate loans; as a result, mortgage companies are eligible to participate in the survey.  

Every five years, the Federal Reserve conducts a Census of Finance Companies to identify the universe of finance companies eligible for potential inclusion in the more detailed Survey of Finance Companies and to enable the stratification of the sample for more statistically efficient estimation. The Census of Finance Companies currently comprises 11 questions to assess the company's asset size, level of loan and lease activity, company structure, and licensing authority. N = 12,800 finance companies. The Board consults with OpenCorporates, Competiscan, Zoominfo, Melissa Data, and Infogroup to identify companies as potential respondents for the census. For 2020, the Board is proposing a number of changes to the 2015 census form. The draft census form is available for review at https://www.federalreserve.gov/reportforms/formsreview/FR%203033p%20Draft%20Form.pdf

On the basis of the Census results, the Board constructs a sample (N = 1,200) for the more detailed Survey of Finance Companies, which collects balance sheet data on major categories of consumer and business credit receivables and major liabilities and is used to gather information on the geographic scope of the company’s operations and loan and lease servicing activities. The survey will be conducted in 2021. The Board proposes to use the previous survey instrument without change. See https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=73369401

The Board has used the quinquennial survey data to benchmark monthly data series on major assets and quarterly data series on liabilities of finance companies developed from the monthly Domestic Finance Company Report of Consolidated Assets and Liabilities, which is collected from a smaller sample of companies. These data are used in internal analysis and are reported to the public in two monthly statistical releases, the Finance Companies (G.20) and the Consumer Credit (G.19), as well as the quarterly Financial Accounts of the United States (Z.1) release. As with many data series based on a fixed sample, errors of estimation tend to increase over time and thus require periodic correction. These errors reflect the evolution in the financial markets as new companies enter the market and market shares change and the deterioration of the monthly sample panel as respondents close, merge or otherwise leave the panel.

In addition to benchmarking the Flow of Funds data, information from the quinquennial survey also provides the Board with an opportunity to learn about an important part of the financial system. Finance companies are a key supplier of credit to households and businesses, holding or managing about 13 percent of total consumer credit outstanding and a significant share of the short- and intermediate-term business finance market. The business and consumer credit holdings of finance companies are key elements of domestic nonfinancial debt, which is monitored by the Board and the Federal Open Market Committee in the implementation of monetary policy.

A detailed supporting statement for the Census of Finance Companies and the Survey of Finance Companies is available at https://www.federalreserve.gov/reportforms/formsreview/FR%203033p%20OMB%20SS.pdf  

An AEA primer on how to respond to federal calls for comments is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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