The Latin American and Caribbean region is trapped in a vicious cycle of low savings and poor use of these savings. This column describes how this problem is reinforced by the current financial system, and prescribes three remedies to policymakers and households to break the cycle. The government should create a better environment for saving and develop a better financial system, but it should also tackle investment distortions and fix broken pension systems. Meanwhile, a change in saving culture should be encouraged from the ground up, with financial education offered to citizens early on in their lives.
Eduardo Cavallo, Tomás Serebrisky, 29 July 2016
Norges Bank Investment Management, 18 July 2016
Growth in the number of publicly quoted companies is a key driver of economic development, so the apparent decline in the number of company listings, at least in developed markets, is naturally worrying for investors, exchanges, and regulators alike. This column provides a framework to address this decline, and proposes possible remedies that could be taken to encourage more listings. The listings ecosystem must establish a new equilibrium to address the evolving conflicts of interest between founders, early investors, underwriters, and future shareholders.
Saleem Bahaj, Iren Levina, Jumana Saleheen, 28 June 2016
Finance plays a key role in growth by connecting savers and investors, but it can also be a source of crises. This column discusses whether there has been enough finance to enable productive investments. UK non-financial companies appear to have enough internal funds to cover all their investment taken as a whole, but the evidence suggests that small firms face shortfalls. The column also pleads for the development of new and better data sources to help measure the supply of finance that can be used to exploit productive investment opportunities.
Sara Calligaris, Massimo Del Gatto, Fadi Hassan, Gianmarco Ottaviano, Fabiano Schivardi, 28 June 2016
Many advanced economies have experienced a productivity slowdown in recent years. Italy, however, has been experiencing such a slowdown since the mid-1990s. This column provides a detailed analysis of Italy’s patterns of misallocation over this period. Firms in the Northern regions, as well as large firms, have experienced the sharpest increase in resource misallocation. To tackle the resulting productivity slowdown, reforms need to address unemployment benefits and higher education, as well as encouraging investment in intangible assets.
Mariassunta Giannetti , Bige Kahraman, 09 June 2016
Theoretical corrections of price deviations in trade are not reflected in empirical evidence. This is surprising because institutional investors should be able be able to identify mispricing. This column explores how the organisation of the asset management industry may hamper trading against mispricing. Asset managers that are less subject to redemption risk exhibit a higher propensity to trade against mispricing. Organisational structures lowering the sensitivity of investor flows to performance strengthen asset managers’ incentives to trade against mispricing.
Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Lai Wei, 27 May 2016
Economic theory offers conflicting perspectives on the relationship between insider trading and innovation. To date, the empirical evidence is similarly inconclusive. This column exploits the staggered enforcement of inside trading laws across countries to explore the effect on patenting behaviour. The findings point to a robust positive effect of enforcement on various measures of patenting behaviour. Legal systems that protect outside investors from corporate insiders thus help to foster innovation.
Bettina Peters, Markus Roberts, Van Vuong, 01 May 2016
Research and development investment is a major driving force behind innovation and economic growth. Policy measures that aim to boost innovation activities attempt to improve incentives for these investments. This column reports on recent research showing that a firm’s financial strength is strongly correlated with the firm’s expected return to research and development, and therefore has a substantial impact on its research and development investment decision.
Matthias Busse, Daniel Gros, 04 April 2016
Through the Eurozone rescue mechanisms, Germany provided the periphery with hundreds of billions in debt at very low rates. There is a widely held notion that these savings would have been better used at home. This column challenges this notion, presenting evidence that Germany’s net asset position held up well, remaining much higher than domestic returns. The main reason is that Germany’s part in the rescue operations was actually much smaller than its claims towards the periphery.
Stefano Giglio, Matteo Maggiori, Johannes Stroebel, Andreas Weber, 23 January 2016
While some of the costs of climate change won’t be incurred for centuries, the actions to mitigate them need to be taken today. Over such a long timespan, small changes in discount rates can drastically change the attractiveness of such investments. This column presents estimates of appropriate discount rates for very long time horizons. The long-run discount rate for one important risky asset class – real estate – is estimated at 2.6%. This provides an upper bound on long-run discount rates for climate change abatement, one that is substantially lower than some of the rates currently being employed.
George Karolyi, David Ng, Eswar Prasad, 12 December 2015
Few economists understate the importance of emerging market economies in terms of world GDP and global growth prospects. This column asks where the future of emerging markets’ investments lie. Where investors have focused in the past and institutional path dependency are important determinants of emerging markets’ allocation of international investment portfolios. This has implications for the geographical distribution of emerging markets’ portfolio investments, a force to reckon with in international financial markets.
Çağatay Bircan, Ralph De Haas, Hans Peter Lankes, Alexander Plekhanov, 10 November 2015
In the wake of the Global Crisis, emerging Europe has experienced a sharp drop in investment levels. As a result, income convergence has virtually come to a halt. This column presents key findings of the EBRD’s latest Transition Report, urging countries in emerging Europe to rebalance their financial systems in order to reignite economic growth. Rebalancing is necessary in terms of the available debt–equity mix, the currency composition of credit, banks’ funding sources, and cross-border investment partners.
Gaston Gelos, Hiroko Oura, 25 July 2015
The growth of the asset management industry has raised concerns about its potential impacts on financial stability. This column assesses the systemic risk created by fund managers’ incentive problems and a first-mover advantage for end investors. Fund flows and fund ownership affect asset prices, and fund managers’ behaviour can amplify risks. This lends support to the expansion and strengthening of industry oversight, both at the individual fund and market levels.
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.
Nicolas Magud, Sebastián Sosa, 13 May 2015
Emerging markets are not the hot investment prospect they used to be. This column estimates that weaker private investment in these nations is a slowdown after a period of boom rather than an outright slump. Prospects for a recovery of business investment, however, are not promising. Commodity prices are expected to remain weak and external financial conditions are set to become tighter.
Aqib Aslam, Samya Beidas-Strom, Daniel Leigh, Seok Gil Park, Hui Tong, 18 April 2015
Business investment in advanced economies contracted sharply during the global crisis and has recovered little since. This column argues that the main factor holding back investment is overall economomic weakness. In some countries other contributing factors include financial constraints and policy uncertainty. Fixing the investment dearth will require fixing the general weakness in economic activity.
Andrew Lo, Richard Thakor, 24 March 2015
R&D-intensive firms such as biopharmaceutical companies operate in a competitive and risky environment. This column presents new evidence on how competition affects the investment decision of R&D-intensive firms. An increase in competition will make the firm increase the R&D investment, and as a response the firm will carry more cash and reduce its debt. Also, more competition will increase the idiosyncratic risk of R&D-intensive firms.
Alan Auerbach, Kevin Hassett, 03 March 2015
Piketty's justification for his proposed wealth tax relies on the notion that the rate of return on capital exceeds economic growth. This column challenges this basis, arguing that it fails to account for risk. The authors also examine the relative merits of a consumption tax, which may be more valid.
Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Yannis Psycharis, Vassilis Tselios, 03 March 2015
Electoral results and the geographical allocation of public investment in Greece have been intimately related. This column describes how incumbent Greek governments between 1975 and 2009 tended to reward those constituencies returning them to office. Increases in both the absolute and relative electoral returns for the party in government in a given Greek region were traditionally repaid with a greater level of per capita investment in that region. Single-member constituencies were the greatest beneficiaries of this type of pork-barrel politics.
Francesco D'Acunto, Marcel Prokopczuk, Michael Weber, 26 February 2015
Discrimination can be costly for both victims and perpetrators. This column uses the variation of historical Jewish persecution across German counties to proxy for localised distrust in financial markets. Persecution reduces the average stock market participation rate of households by 7.5%–12%. This striking effect is stable over time, across cohorts, and across education levels. The effect survives when comparing only geographically close counties. It suggests that the persecution of minorities may negatively affect societal wealth even far into the future through the channel of intergenerationally transmitted investment norms.
Jon Danielsson, Eva Micheler, Katja Neugebauer, Andreas Uthemann, Jean-Pierre Zigrand, 23 February 2015
The proposed EU capital markets union aims to revitalise Europe’s economy by creating efficient funding channels between providers of loanable funds and firms best placed to use them. This column argues that a successful union would deliver investment, innovation, and growth, but it depends on overcoming difficult regulatory challenges. A successful union would also change the nature of systemic risk in Europe.