The events of recent years have made it all too clear that we need to better understand the links between the financial sector and the real economy. This column explores financial sector shocks and real economy shocks and presents new evidence suggesting that financial shocks are a significant source of macroeconomic fluctuations. Policymakers need to better take into account the role of the financial system when predicting the future and when readying remedies.
In Britain today, a majority of those in poverty live in working, rather than non-working, households. This challenges the long-held notion that paid work offers a route out of poverty. This column argues that structural changes in the labour market have brought about profound changes in the social security system. A failure to acknowledge these underlying changes means that dialogues about the political direction of the British economy can be problematic and potentially misleading.
Rich US retirees are known to spend their last years living it up in retirement hubs such as Florida. This column presents new evidence from the US suggesting that, in fact, those with high incomes run down their assets more slowly than implied by the basic life cycle model. Uncertainty over when they’re going to die and the possibility of high medical expenses – along with altruism and bequest motives – are important in understanding their low rate of spending.
Home bias in banks’ holdings of domestic government debt could pose problems for financial stability and crisis management. This column discusses some of the determinants of this bias. Factors that increase macroeconomic instability are associated with higher home bias, while better investment opportunities in the private sector and better institutional quality reduce home bias.
Iceland and Ireland were both rocked by the fallout of the Global Crisis. This column argues that differences in currency arrangements affected the mechanisms of the boom and the collapse. Iceland’s banks collapsed because they did not have a lender of last resort in euros. Ireland did. But Iceland’s collapse and ensuing capital controls shifted the burden of debt restructuring onto foreign creditors to a much greater extent than in Ireland.
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