When a government wants to cut a deficit, it must decide both how and when to do it. Research has treated the two questions as if they are independent, which risks attributing good policy to good timing, or vice versa. This column argues that when the effects are considered simultaneously, the composition of fiscal adjustments is much more important than the state of the cycle. Fiscal adjustments based upon spending cuts have losses that are on average close to zero, while those based upon tax increases are associated with large and prolonged recessions, regardless of whether or not the adjustment starts in a recession.
Alberto Alesina, Gualtiero Azzalini, Carlo Favero, Francesco Giavazzi, Armando Miano, 16 December 2016
Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Huanhuan Zheng, 24 October 2016
The booms and busts of real estate prices echo those of the real business cycle. This column looks at the relationship between house price valuations and economic growth in an international context. Taking account of heterogeneity in housing policies across countries, large house price depreciations are found to be positively associated with economic growth. This positive relationship is more pronounced in countries with civil law legal systems.
Javier Cravino, Andrei Levchenko, 22 October 2016
Multinational production has become one of the most important means by which firms serve foreign markets. This column examines the role of multinational firms in aggregate business cycle transmission. The results suggest that the combined impact of all foreign multinationals is small but significant, accounting for about 10% of the productivity shocks in a typical country and leading to a somewhat more synchronised international business cycle.
Reamonn Lydon, Matija Lozej, 02 October 2016
The evolution of earnings over the business cycle has important implications for consumption and welfare. This column shows that the earnings of new hires in Ireland – and in particular, new hires with less valuable outside options – are substantially more flexible than those of incumbents during a recession. The results indicate that search and matching models that rely on the rigidity of wages of new hires to generate realistic volatility in job creation and unemployment may not be appropriate for strong business cycles.
Alisdair McKay, Ricardo Reis, 14 July 2016
Brexit has raised the possibility of a recession on both sides of the Atlantic. Unable to use traditional remedies like monetary or fiscal policy stimulus, policymakers may consider automatic fiscal stabilisers. This column examines the impact of automatic stabilisers through social insurance on the business cycle, and how its impact can be used to mitigate recession. Unemployment insurance or food stamps would be better than progressive taxes at stimulating aggregate demand. The main economic channels policymakers must consider are those related to risk and precautionary savings.
The course will consider alternative macroeconomic frameworks with financial frictions to under-stand financial crisis, business cycles and public policy. There will be an brief historical overview of financial crises and basic financial accelerator models which emphasizes the interaction between borrowing constraint, asset price and aggregate production.
It will then be introduced liquidity constraint to examine the business cycles and monetary policy. Finally, the course will present financial intermediaries and government to study banking crisis, credit policy and macro prudential policy. By developing these frameworks, the training aims to understand the recent financial crisis and the roles of public policies.
Avinash Persaud, 14 April 2016
Since the breakup of Bretton Woods in the early 1970s, the housing market has been at the centre of the biggest banking crises across the world. This column considers the nexus between housing, banking, and the economy, and how these ties can be broken. It argues for two modest regulatory changes in banking and insurance. These would result in life insurers and pension funds providing mortgage finance, better insulating the economy and homeowners from the housing cycle.
Alberto Caruso, Thomas Hasenzagl, Filippo Pellegrino, Lucrezia Reichlin, 22 February 2016
Recent data releases related to the Eurozone have been disappointing. This column argues that momentum from the long-delayed 2014-15 recovery is faltering because the Eurozone economy is affected, with a lag, by the US slowdown. The traditional, lagged relationship between the EZ and US business cycles – which disappeared in the aftermath of the Global Crisis – is now reasserting itself.
Olivier Blanchard, 03 October 2014
Before the 2008 crisis, the mainstream worldview among US macroeconomists was that economic fluctuations were regular and essentially self-correcting. In this column, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard explains how this benign view of fluctuations took hold in the profession, and what lessons have been learned since the crisis. He argues that macroeconomic policy should aim to keep the economy away from ‘dark corners’, where it can malfunction badly.
Alan Moreira, Alexi Savov, 16 September 2014
The prevailing view of shadow banking is that it is all about regulatory arbitrage – evading capital requirements and exploiting ‘too big to fail’. This column focuses instead on the tradeoff between economic growth and financial stability. Shadow banking transforms risky, illiquid assets into securities that are – in good times, at least – treated like money. This alleviates the shortage of safe assets, thereby stimulating growth. However, this process builds up fragility, and can exacerbate the depth of the bust when the liquidity of shadow banking securities evaporates.
Carlos Vegh, Guillermo Vuletin, 12 June 2014
The question of whether fiscal policy should be pro- or countercyclical has become increasingly relevant during the recession. This column provides causal evidence from South American countries showing the success of countercyclical policy in improving social indicators of economic success, combined with correlative evidence from Europe. This represents a strike against the case for austerity-led growth.
Jeffrey Chwieroth, Andrew Walter, 10 May 2013
The economic consequences of financial crises have been systematically explored. Their political consequences haven’t. This column argues that without paying attention to politics, crises will remain poorly understood. After all, politics shapes policy choices, market sentiment and, ultimately, economic outcomes. Evidence from the effects of banking crises over the past century show that crises have a dramatic impact on the survival prospects of governments.
Julian di Giovanni, Andrei Levchenko, Isabelle Méjean, 16 November 2012
What difference does the release of the iPhone 5 really make to the US economy? This column argues that idiosyncratic shocks to individual firms significantly contribute to aggregate fluctuations. Using empirical evidence from France, this column argues that shocks to the largest firms, combined with firm-to-firm linkages, can travel far beyond the sector and country of origin.
Kamil Yilmaz, 19 May 2012
Germany’s fiscal response to the crisis was timid compared with those of China and the US. This column uses business-cycle connectedness indices to show that Germany should follow in the footsteps of China and increase its domestic spending so that it will generate net positive connectedness to others. Germany was able to increase its exports thanks to the fact that countries like the US, China and Japan stimulated domestic spending significantly.
Lucrezia Reichlin, Domenico Giannone, Jasper McMahon, Saverio Simonelli, 02 May 2012
According to official statistics, the UK and Europe are heading for recession, while the US is recovering. This has led some to suggest that European economies are moving in the opposite direction to the US. This column, written by the co-founders of Now-Casting, presents new now-casting estimates that put Europe and the US even further apart.
Andrew Rose, 27 April 2012
Conventional wisdom says that when the economy starts to nosedive, the trade barriers start to rise. But this column argues that maybe protectionism isn’t countercyclical after all.
Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Luciano Cohan, 12 January 2012
Four years ago, there was growing support for the idea of ‘decoupling’ – that emerging markets were becoming less affected by business cycle swings in developed economies. Then came the global crisis. Focusing on Latin America, this column argues that the 2010s will be a far harder decade. But that might not be such a bad thing if it forces these economies to look again at their growth strategies.
Camille Landais, Emmanuel Saez, 29 November 2010
Much controversy surrounds the generosity of unemployment insurance in modern economies. Do generous benefits discourage workers from looking for jobs and increase unemployment? Or does unemployment in recessions simply stem from a lack of jobs? CEPR DP8132 explores the optimal level of unemployment benefits during the booms and busts of the business cycle.
Harald Uhlig, 08 October 2010
CEPR’s Euro Area Business Cycle Dating Committee has announced that the recession that began in the first quarter of 2008 came to an end in the second quarter of 2009. Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago, who chairs the committee, talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about how this recession compares with previous recessions and with the US recession, and about the components of GDP that are driving recovery. The interview was recorded in a telephone press conference on 4 October 2010.
Pierre Monnin, Terhi Jokipii, 07 October 2010
Does banking sector instability damage the real economy? Or the other way round? This column presents data from 18 OECD countries between 1980 and 2008. It finds that banking sector stability appears to be an important driver of GDP growth in subsequent quarters. It argues that monetary policy should therefore pay more attention to banking sector soundness.