After intensifying through the 2000s until the Global Crisis, the ‘uphill’ flow of capital from poor to rich countries decelerated and has recently reversed. This column documents that saving shifts by China, commodity-exporting emerging and developing economies, and advanced economies played key roles in accounting for the apparently puzzling pattern in the pre-crisis decade. Ongoing policy uncertainties in advanced economies mean large and persistent downhill flows of capital are unlikely in the near term. Going forward, capital flows to emerging and developing economies will need to be supported by policies that enhance the benefits of inflows, temper capital flow volatility, and improve the resilience and depth of domestic financial markets.
Emine Boz, Luis Cubeddu, Maurice Obstfeld, 09 March 2017
Stefan Avdjiev, Bryan Hardy, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Luis Servén, 24 February 2017
Capital flows play a key role in the transmission of real and financial shocks across countries, but empirical work on flows by sector is scarce. This column uses a newly constructed dataset of capital inflows for 85 countries, broken down by borrowing sector, to show that private debt flows are negatively correlated with global risk appetite, while borrowing by sovereigns is positively correlated with risk appetite. This and other results discussed show the importance of splitting capital inflows into their borrowing sectors when designing policy to manage macrofinancial risk.
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.
Minouche Shafik, 22 November 2016
The spread of financial shocks globally has caused some to argue that capital accounts should be more closed, thereby shrinking the opportunities available to global savers and borrowers alike. That would put further downward pressure on interest rates in surplus economies, and upward pressure on borrowing costs in economies where the greatest opportunities lie. This column argues that by acting in their local interest, domestic macroprudential policymakers can safeguard against the risk of financial instability spilling across borders, while continuing to allow capital to flow to where it is of most use.
Holger Görg, Christiane Krieger-Boden, Peter Nunnenkamp, 23 August 2016
In theory, firms in developing countries benefit from viable, well-used, stable, and efficient local financial markets as a source of investment for local firms. Financial markets in the home countries of multinationals can also act as a source of FDI to the developing world when local financial markets are weak. This column discusses recent empirical data that support both arguments, and argues that advocates of tighter regulation for financial markets should consider the wider impact on developing country economies.
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.
Claudio Raddatz, Sergio Schmukler, Tomás Williams, 12 August 2016
The categorisation of countries into relevant international benchmark indices affects the allocation of capital across borders. The reallocation of countries from one index to another affects not only capital flows into and out of that country, but also the countries it shares indices with. This column explains the channels through which international equity and bond market indices affect asset allocations, capital flows, and asset prices across countries. An understanding of these channels is important in preventing a widening share of capital flows being impacted by benchmark effects.
Ron Kaniel, Robert Parham, 06 March 2016
Correlations between media attention and capital flows to investment vehicles are well established. However, the question arises of whether this is due to new information conveyed or if it is just an artefact of the attention itself. This column employs fund rankings from the Wall Street Journal to investigate the issue. It shows that media attention does drive these investment decisions, even if no new information is conveyed. It further argues that financial intermediaries are aware of this effect and exploit it.
Mouhamadou Sy, 09 November 2015
From the introduction of the euro in 1999 to the Greek crisis in 2010, the Eurozone witnessed external imbalances between countries at its core and those at its periphery. These imbalances have been attributed either to differences in competitiveness or to the effect of financial integration. This column argues that in order to understand the imbalances within the Eurozone, it is necessary to consider credit costs and capital flows. The lower real cost of credit for high-inflation countries must be taken into account, as well as the inflow of capital to the non-tradable sector that this implies. Monetary policy cannot be conducted in a ‘one size fits all’ manner.
Gita Gopinath, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Loukas Karabarbounis, Carolina Villegas-Sanchez, 28 September 2015
Joining the Eurozone was once a near unquestionably good idea. Now, the costs of joining the monetary union are under close scrutiny. This column takes a slightly different tack, presenting an alternative perspective on how joining the euro has impacted productivity in southern Europe. It turns out that capital wasn’t allocated efficiently across firms after cheap borrowing at low interest rates, impacting total factor productivity.
Eugenio Cerutti, Stijn Claessens, Damien Puy, 09 September 2015
Recent economic and financial events, such as the ‘taper tantrum’, have highlighted again the relevance of global factors in driving capital flows to emerging markets. This column suggests that capital flows to emerging markets move in part due to global push factors. However, sensitivity to these push factors differs greatly across types of flows and emerging markets. How much push factors affect individual emerging markets depends on their local liquidity and the composition of their foreign investor bases. Countries relying more on international funds and global banks are significantly more affected by changes in push factors.
Erik Feyen, Swati Ghosh, Katie Kibuuka, Subika Farazi, 11 August 2015
Monetary policies pursued by developed countries in the wake of the Global Crisis have had profound spillover effects on emerging economies. This column documents the unprecedented post-Crisis bond issuance surge in emerging markets. The findings indicate that benign international funding conditions favoured bond issuance in these economies. But the large issuance volumes, currency risks, and high exposure to global factors could pose a challenge for policymakers, particularly when global cycles reverse.
Ross Levine, Chen Lin, 02 July 2015
Labour market regulations have important implications for both the incidence of cross-border acquisitions, and the outcomes for acquiring firms. This column explores how variations in labour regulations between countries affect cross-border acquisitions and subsequent firm performance. For a sample of 50 countries, firms are found to enjoy larger returns when they acquire a target in a country with weaker labour regulations than the acquirer’s home country.
Pınar Yeşin, 21 February 2015
Safe haven inflows to Switzerland during global turmoil have been mentioned numerous times by the financial press and international organisations. However, recent research cannot find evidence for surges of capital inflows to Switzerland. In fact, this column argues that private capital inflows to and outflows from Switzerland have become exceptionally muted and less volatile since the Crisis. By contrast, net private capital flows have shown significantly higher volatility since the Crisis, frequently registering extreme movements. However, these extreme movements in net flows are not driven by surges of inflows.
Erlend Nier, Tahsin Sedik, 04 January 2015
Large and volatile capital flows into emerging economies since the Global Financial Crisis have re-invigorated efforts to unearth the determinants of these flows. This column investigates the interplay between global risk aversion (captured by the VIX) and countries’ characteristics. The authors also explore what policies countries should employ to protect themselves against the volatility of capital flows. The findings indicate that capital flows to emerging markets cannot be controlled without incurring substantial costs.
Vincent Bouvatier, Anne-Laure Delatte, 14 December 2014
Eurozone financial integration is reversing, with 2013 cross-border capital flows at 40% of their 2007 level. This column discusses research showing that banking integration has in fact strengthened in the rest of the world.
Dennis Reinhardt, Cameron McLoughlin, Ludovic Gauvin, 05 November 2014
In the aftermath of the Global Crisis, policymakers and academics alike discussed how uncertainty surrounding macroeconomic policymaking has impacted domestic investment. At the same time, concerns regarding the spillover impact of monetary policy in advanced economies on emerging market economies featured strongly in the international policy debate. This column draws the two debates together, and examines how policy uncertainty in advanced economies has spilled over to emerging markets via portfolio capital flows. It finds remarkable differences in the spillover effects of EU vs. US policy uncertainty.
Atish Ghosh, Mahvash Saeed Qureshi, Naotaka Sugawara, 30 October 2014
Capital flows to emerging markets have been very volatile since the global financial crisis. This has kindled debates on whether – and how – to better manage cross-border capital flows. In this column, the authors examine the role of capital account restrictions in both source and recipient countries in taming destabilising capital flows. The results indicate that capital account restrictions at either end can significantly lower the volume of cross-border flows.
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.
Christoph Trebesch, Helios Herrera, Guillermo Ordoñez, 06 September 2014
Financial crises are often credit booms gone bust. This column argues that ‘political booms’, defined as an increase in government popularity, are also a good predictor of financial crises. The phenomenon of ‘political booms gone bust’ is, however, only observable in emerging markets. In these countries, politicians have more to gain from riding the popularity benefits of unsustainable booms.