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Discovering the Universe: Measuring the Role of Finance Companies in the U.S. Economy
Lisa Chen,  
*Kathleen W Johnson, Federal Reserve System 
Arthur Kennickell,  

Keywords: survey redesign, non-response, finance companies

Credit to consumers and business is critical to the efficient functioning of the U.S. economy, and finance companies are a key source of such credit. Every five years, the Federal Reserve conducts a two-part survey of the finance company industry: a Census of Finance Companies (CFC) to identify the universe of such firms and a Survey of Finance Companies (SFC) to obtain balance-sheet data from firms identified in the CFC. In 2010, this survey underwent a major revision that addressed both the absence of a comprehensive list of finance companies to serve as the basis of the CFC and low survey response rates. The CFC was sent to all nondepository companies that appeared to provide credit to households and businesses. Although this list was to include only the highest-level firm within each corporate family, responses to the CFC revealed that it contained a complex tangle of firms. A nonresponse follow-up study was conducted to determine the existence of firms in the list, their status as a finance company, and the degree of relationship among firms. This paper describes how the follow-up study was used to construct an estimate of the universe that will serve as the basis of the SFC.