Kangni Kpodar, Patrick Imam, 08 May 2017

The debate over regional trade agreements is ongoing. It has been argued that they can heighten exposure to shocks as they lead to more specialisation, and conversely that they can alleviate volatility by improving policy coordination within the anchors of a formal trade contract. This column suggests that the benefits from lowering long-term growth volatility tend to dominate potential costs, with the magnitude of this effect depending on the depth of the regional integration and the development stage of trade partners. 

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.

Alan Moreira, 15 February 2017

Investors tend to sell when markets get scared. In this video, Alan Moreira explains that other strategies can overperform the classical strategy. This video was recorded at the Brevan Howard Centre in December 2016.

Yoshio Higuchi, Kozo Kiyota, Toshiyuki Matsuura, 04 December 2016

There is a belief among the general public that employment volatility tends to be greater for firms with higher foreign exposure, but the relationship between the two is ambiguous in theory. This column uses firm-level data for Japan to compare the impact of foreign exposure on employment volatility for multinational, trading, and non-trading firms; for manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade; and for intra-firm and inter-firm trade. In manufacturing, the effect of exports on the volatility of employment varies, depending on the share of intrafirm exports to total sales. In wholesale retail, the effect of exports is generally insignificant. 

Roger Farmer, Pawel Zabczyk, 26 October 2016

Ben Bernanke famously quipped that monetary policy works in practice, but not in theory. This column bridges the gap between practice and theory in assessing how central banks can influence both of them by intervening in asset markets. To the extent that asset market volatility is driven by shifts in beliefs, the central bank should aim to eliminate that volatility by engaging in countercyclical unconventional monetary policy, which would end up reducing the risk premium.

Enrique Sentana, 16 September 2016

Determining which risks are worth taking is one of the key problems facing financial market participants. Central to this is the time-varying nature of volatility. This column examines the Chicago Board Options Exchange volatility index, VIX, which has become the standard measure of volatility risk. Complementary approaches to pricing VIX derivatives are considered, and the tumultuous economy since the Great Recession is used to assess the empirical performance of the different models.

Gaston Gelos, Jay Surti, 19 August 2016

International financial spillovers from emerging markets have increased significantly over the last 20 years. This column argues that growing financial integration of emerging economies is more important than their rising share in global trade in driving this trend, that firms with lower liquidity and higher borrowing are more subject to spillovers, and that mutual funds are amplifying spillover effects. Policymakers in developed economies should pay increased attention to future spillovers from emerging markets, particularly from China.

Jérôme Héricourt, Clément Nedoncelle, 11 June 2016

The idea that exchange rate volatility generates additional costs and uncertainty that are detrimental to international trade is widely accepted. This column argues that big, multi-destination firms – which account for the bulk of aggregate exports – reallocate exports across countries as a foreign exchange hedge. When bilateral volatility increases relative to multilateral volatility, exports towards the considered market are hampered, but exports remain mainly unchanged at the macro level.

Alessandra Bonfiglioli, Gino Gancia, 19 December 2015

The Great Recession highlighted the prominent role that economic uncertainty plays in hindering investment and growth. This column provides new evidence that economic uncertainty can actually play a positive role by promoting the implementation of structural reforms with long-run benefits. The effect appears to be strongest for countries with poorly informed voters. These findings suggest that times of uncertainty may present an opportunity to implement reforms that would otherwise not be passed.

Francesco Caselli, Miklós Koren, Milan Lisicky, Silvana Tenreyro, 14 October 2015

A widely held view in academic and policy circles is that openness to international trade and specialisation leads to higher GDP volatility. This column argues that openness to international trade can also lower a country’s GDP volatility by allowing it to diversify its sources of demand and supply, and hence reduce its exposure to domestic shocks.

Jon Danielsson, Marcela Valenzuela, Ilknur Zer, 02 October 2015

Does low volatility in financial markets mean that another financial crisis is more likely? And should we be worried when everything is OK? This column presents the first empirical results that find a strong validation of Minsky's hypothesis – obtained from 200 years of historical cross-sectional data – that low volatility increases the likelihood of a future financial crisis by increasing risk-taking.

James Robinson, Ragnar Torvik, Thierry Verdier, 27 July 2015

Economists have long understood that policy chosen by politics is unlikely to be socially optimal. This is because politicians face the probability of losing power and may discount the future too much, or act to improve their re-election probability. This column explores these issues taking into account the fact that future government revenue is uncertain. Public income volatility acts to reduce the efficiency of public policy. This has important implications for developing countries that rely on income from volatile sources, such as natural resource extraction.

Ashoka Mody, Antu Panini Murshid, 27 November 2011

Recent commentary has suggested that capital inflows – long considered a positive for growth – may actually be doing more harm than good. This column presents new evidence reinforcing the conventional interpretation. It finds that volatility is the determining factor. With volatility below a threshold, an inflow of foreign capital promotes growth. But during periods of volatile growth, the effect is opposite.

Alexander Popov, Frank Smets, 03 November 2011

Well-developed financial systems play a crucial role in stimulating growth but are associated with more frequent financial shocks and higher macroeconomic risk, as the financial crisis of 2007–09 reminded us. This column argues that the goal of financial regulation must be to reduce systemic risk without eliminating the financial sector’s contribution to long-term economic growth.

Lukas Menkhoff, Lucio Sarno , Maik Schmeling, Andreas Schrimpf, 23 March 2011

The carry trade – borrowing in currencies with low interest rates and investing in currencies with high interest rates – has been a surprising hit for decades. This column provides empirical evidence suggesting that the mysteriously high returns this generates can actually be explained as compensation for the volatility risk undertaken.

Mona Haddad , Jamus Lim, Christian Saborowski, 21 March 2010

Does openness increase volatility? This column argues that it doesn’t when countries are sufficiently diversified. These results amount to a powerful argument in favour of export differentiation policies as a means of deriving larger benefits from trade openness and shielding against global shocks.

Olivier Blanchard, Marianna Riggi, 07 December 2009

In the 1970s, large increases in the price of oil were associated with sharp decreases in output and large increases in inflation. In the 2000s, even larger increases in the price of oil were associated with much milder movements. This column attributes the difference in the US to more flexible labour markets and more credible monetary policy during the Great Moderation.

David Cuberes, Michal Jerzmanowski, 15 August 2009

What explains developing countries’ greater economic volatility? This column documents the relationship between democracy and growth reversals. It argues that greater democracy, not higher income, is responsible for dampening economic volatility. Greater democratisation and economic diversification would reduce both dramatic declines and growth accelerations.

Rebecca Hellerstein, Cédric Tille, 21 August 2008

Financial globalisation has made current account balances more sensitive to volatile variables like asset prices and interest rates. This column says that greater current account volatility may be good news if it comes in the form of countercyclical risk sharing.

Pasquale Della Corte, Lucio Sarno , Ilias Tsiakas, 18 January 2008

The forward premium, the difference between the forward exchange rate and the spot exchange rate, contains economically valuable information about the future of exchange rates. Here is the evidence that it can help predict short-run rates and that investors who ignore it and use random walk models may be leaving money on the table.