International finance

Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta, Oliver Masetti, 24 February 2017

According to conventional wisdom, capital flows are fickle. Focusing on emerging markets, this column argues that despite recent structural and regulatory changes, much of this wisdom still holds today. Foreign direct investment inflows are more stable than non-FDI inflows. Within non-FDI inflows, portfolio debt and bank-intermediated flows are most volatile. Meanwhile, FDI and bank-related outflows from emerging markets have grown and become increasingly volatile. This finding underscores the need for greater attention from analysts and policymakers to the capital outflow side.

Ambrogio Cesa-Bianchi, Fernando Eguren Martin, Gregory Thwaites, 23 February 2017

Banking crises tend to happen in ‘waves’ across countries. In examining why this occurs, this column shows how foreign financial developments in general, and global credit growth in particular, are powerful predictors of domestic banking crises. The channels seem to be financial rather than related to trade, and include transmission of market sentiment, cross-border portfolio flows, and direct crisis contagion.

Adrian Jäggi, Martin Schlegel, Attilio Zanetti, 18 January 2017

Identifying the exact triggers for safe-haven flows in not easy, nor is tracking the ways in which demand for safe havens materialises. This column uses an empirical analysis of movements of the Swiss franc and Japanese yen since 2000 to show that these safe-haven currencies reacted strongly to non-domestic macro surprises, especially during the Global Crisis, and that this is in addition to the expected reaction to general changes in the risk environment. Oddly, for European macro surprises, only German data influence safe-haven currencies.

Vítor Constâncio, Philipp Hartmann, 24 November 2016

The ECB’s 2016 Sintra Forum on Central Banking focused on the international monetary and financial system. In this column, the organisers of the forum highlight some of the main points from the discussions, including concerns that the world economy may be suffering from a shortage of safe assets and proposals for which areas international regulatory reforms should be further developed. 

Jean-Pierre Landau, 24 November 2016

The objectives of maximising growth and reducing external imbalances may not be fully compatible in a financially integrated and asymmetric world. This column argues that countries have two choices: they can contain global imbalances and gross financial flows through permanent capital controls, or they can pursue financial integration, managing growing imbalances and external exposures by creating more global safe assets. This implies debt contracts would be either state-contingent, with easy restructuring, or built to be ‘safe’, with a high level of commitment by the issuer.

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