In September 2016, the ECB held its first Annual Research Conference. This column surveys the contributions to the conference, which brought together policymakers and academics from around the world to promote discussion of topics at the forefront of monetary and financial economic research. Nobel laureate Eric Maskin gave the keynote lecture, addressing whether fiscal policy should be set by politicians, and the conference included eight further presentations and a panel discussion on monetary policy and financial stability.
Luca Dedola, Luc Laeven, 15 November 2016
Aida Caldera, Alain de Serres, Naomitsu Yashiro, 04 September 2016
Structural reforms can have adverse effects in the short run if implemented under weak macroeconomic conditions. This column argues that prioritising reform measures that bring short-term benefits even in a bad conjuncture, and packaging them to benefit from reform complementarities across product and labour markets, remains the most promising growth strategy, especially in the post-Global Crisis context
Raju Huidrom, M Ayhan Kose, Franziska Ohnsorge, 13 August 2016
Fiscal multipliers tend to be larger when the fiscal position of governments is stronger. This column argues that the link between fiscal multipliers and fiscal positions is independent of the business cycle. Although multipliers are generally larger in recessions, they are smaller during times of high debt, even during recessions, relative to what they would be if government debt were lower.
Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 07 June 2016
There is a high degree of correlation between the business cycles of different countries. This is particularly the case in the Eurozone, but also among industrialised countries outside of the Eurozone. Using a two-country behavioural macroeconomic model, this column shows that the main channel for the synchronisation of business cycles is the propagation of ‘animal spirits’ – waves of optimism and pessimism that become correlated internationally.
Nauro Campos, Corrado Macchiarelli, 03 March 2016
There seems to be a robust consensus that the relationship between the countries in the EU that use the euro as their currency (‘euro-ins’) and those that do not (‘euro-outs’) is the most important of the four areas in the ‘new settlement’ between the UK and the EU. This column presents new econometric estimates showing that, after the introduction of the euro, the UK and Eurozone business cycles became significantly more synchronised. It is likely this upsurge in synchronisation increased the costs of a potential UK exit from the EU.
Wouter den Haan, Pontus Rendahl, Markus Riegler, 13 September 2015
The interaction of incomplete markets and sticky nominal wages is shown to magnify business cycles even though these two features – in isolation – dampen them. During recessions, fears of unemployment stir up precautionary sentiments which induces agents to save more. The additional savings may be used as investments in both a productive asset (equity) and an unproductive asset (money). But even a small rise in money demand has important consequences. The desire to hold money puts deflationary pressure on the economy, which, provided that nominal wages are sticky, increases wage costs and reduces firm profits. Lower profits repress the desire to save in equity, which increases (the fear of) unemployment, and so on. This is a powerful mechanism which causes the model to behave differently from both its complete markets version, and a version with incomplete markets but without aggregate uncertainty.
Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe, Martín Uribe, 20 July 2015
In the past few years, the world has witnessed large swings in world relative prices, from oil, to metals, to food prices. This column examines how important these terms-of-trade shocks are in explaining GDP fluctuations. Using structural vector autoregression analysis, it shows that terms-of-trade shocks account for no more than 10% of business-cycle fluctuations in the majority of poor and emerging countries.
Giovanni Caggiano, Efrem Castelnuovo, 23 June 2015
There is no consensus on the effectiveness of government spending as a measure for boosting output. This column suggests that increasing government spending is highly effective exactly when it is most needed – when the economy is experiencing a deep recession. But the finding does not imply a one-size-fits-all recommendation. There are potential dangers in increasing spending in countries whose level of debt might be perceived as unsustainable.
Costas Azariadis, Leo Kaas, Yi Wen, 04 April 2015
A large literature in macroeconomics shows how credit market shocks can propagate through deterioration in the value of collateral. This column decomposes debt into secured and unsecured components and investigates their effects separately. While secured debt is acyclical, unsecured debt is confirmed to predict GDP movements in accordance with the standard financial accelerator mechanism.
George-Marios Angeletos, Fabrice Collard, Harris Dellas, 16 March 2015
The Global Crisis has forced a revaluation of the standard macroeconomic models in use worldwide. This column discusses an enrichment that include a formal concept of ‘confidence’ about the short-medium term economic outlook – one that relates to market psychology rather than expectations about technology and policy. This extension helps the model predictions better match reality. It also offers a formalisation of the popular view that depressed spending, arising from a drop in confidence, is a major cause of recessions and that recoveries often hinge on ‘restoring confidence in the economy’.
Philippe Weil, 20 June 2014
The CEPR Business Cycle Dating Committee recently concluded that there is not yet enough evidence to call a business cycle trough in the Eurozone. Instead, the committee has announced a 'prolonged pause' in the recession. This Vox Talk discusses the possible directions that this situation could lead to and questions whether the Great Recession has harmed the Eurozone’s long-term growth prospects to the extent that meagre growth could become the 'new normal'.
CEPR CEPR Business Cycle Dating Committee, 17 June 2014
The simplest business cycle dating algorithm declares recessions over after two consecutive quarters of positive GDP growth. By that metric, the Eurozone recession has been over since 2013Q1. This column argues that growth and improvements in the labour market have been so anaemic that it is too early to call the end of the Eurozone recession. Indeed, if this is what an expansion looks like, then the state of the Eurozone economy might be even worse than economists feared.
Chiara Criscuolo, Peter Gal, Carlo Menon, 26 May 2014
Young firms are known to play a central role in job creation. This column presents the results of a new OECD project on the dynamics of employment (DynEmp) based on an innovative methodology using firm-level data. It confirms that young firms play a central role in creating jobs, and in enhancing growth and innovation. Public policies can help by enabling firms to experiment, and by fostering the reallocation of resources towards the most productive firms. Structural reforms to product, labour, and capital markets, as well as bankruptcy laws that do not overly penalise failure, are particularly relevant.
Ayako Saiki, Sunghyun Kim, 02 February 2014
Before the introduction of the euro, it was hoped that by promoting increased intra-regional trade it would increase business-cycle synchronisation within the Eurozone, and thus help it to fulfil the criteria for an optimum currency area. This column presents recent research that compares the evolution of business-cycle synchronisation in the Eurozone and east Asia. While the euro has had some impact on business-cycle synchronisation in the Eurozone, it has done so not through increased intra-regional trade intensity, but rather through some other channel – most likely financial integration.
Ian Dew-Becker, Stefano Giglio, 20 October 2013
Stabilisation policy should focus on the frequencies consumers care most about. This column presents evidence from stock-market returns suggesting that consumers are willing to pay the most to avoid – and are therefore most concerned about – fluctuations that last tens or hundreds of years. Modern macroeconomic theory tends to view the role of monetary policy as smoothing out inflation and unemployment over the business cycle. The authors’ findings suggest that resources would be better spent on policies that smooth out longer-run fluctuations.
Òscar Jordà, Moritz Schularick, Alan Taylor, 18 October 2013
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, few would dispute the risks of excessive borrowing. But which debts should one worry about – public or private? This column presents new research on the interplay of public and private debts since 1870 in 17 advanced economies. History demonstrates that excessive private-sector borrowing plays a greater role than fiscal profligacy in generating financial instability. However, when the credit boom collapses, the government’s capacity to alleviate the downturn is limited by the prevailing level of public debt.
Carlos Vegh, Guillermo Vuletin, 01 October 2013
Government spending is procyclical in developing countries, exacerbating the business cycle. However, an analysis of tax policy is also required in order to properly assess the overall stance of fiscal policy. This column presents recent research showing that tax policy tends to be procyclical in developing countries and acyclical in developed countries. Although some developing countries have managed to escape the procyclical fiscal policy trap, some developed nations – notably Eurozone members – are falling into it.
Peter Gal, Gabor Pinter, 21 September 2013
Renting capital goods makes up 20% of total capital expenses by US companies and this type of capital spending increases in downturns. This column discusses research showing that the systematic pattern of corporate leasing can be linked to credit constraints. This means that a robust rental sector has the potential to mitigate the negative effects of financial disruptions when obtaining credit becomes difficult.
Philippe Weil, 19 November 2012
Philippe Weil, newly appointed Chair of CEPR’s Euro Area Business Cycle Dating Committee, talks to Viv Davies about the Committee’s recent announcement of a peak in economic activity in the Eurozone in the third quarter of 2011 and that the Eurozone has been in recession since then. They discuss the issue of heterogeneity of business cycles of Eurozone countries, the likely impact of subsequent data revisions, and future plans for the Dating Committee. The interview was recorded on 16 November 2012. [Also read the transcript]
Wouter den Haan, Vincent Sterk, 08 November 2011
Financial institutions played a leading role in the global crisis, and policymakers are under pressure to do something about them. This column argues that before any draconian measures are passed, we need to be reminded of the benefits of the financial sector and the innovation it provides.