Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 01 November 2017

Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models are still dominant in mainstream macroeconomics, but they are only able to explain business cycle fluctuations as the result of exogenous shocks. This column uses concepts from behavioural economics to develop macroeconomic models with endogenous business cycle fluctuations. Application of the models highlights how the trade-off between output and inflation is moderated by the flexibility of the economy. The models further help to explain the international transmission of business cycle fluctuations.

David Miles, Ugo Panizza, Ricardo Reis, Ángel Ubide, 24 October 2017

Occasionally, inflation is stubborn. For many years it was hard to bring under control, but in the last decade has been low and stable. The latest Geneva Report on the World Economy studies the latest bout of stubbornness, asking why inflation has remained in such a narrow range. It shows that a large number of diverse shocks have hit developed economies during the last decade, which have more or less cancelled each other out. One of these 'shocks' has been monetary policy, which was skilfully used in response to wider macroeconomic events. Central banks, in other words, combined good policies and good luck. Next time, however, we may not be so lucky.

Catherine Mann, 23 October 2017

For the first time since the financial crisis, no country is showing contraction. However, Catherine Mann points out that there is a need for more investment, trade and globalisation in order to have sustained growth. This video was recorded at the "10 years after the crisis" conference held in London, on 22 September 2017.

Michael Bordo, Pierre Siklos, 18 October 2017

The role of central banks in monetary policy and financial stability has changed radically over time. This examines the similarities and idiosyncrasies of ten central banks, and also considers how inflation might have looked had the central banks been around earlier, or had they adopted different strategies. While important differences between the narrative and statistical analyses of crises indicate that neither is sufficient on its own, small open economies appear to do comparatively well across the various crisis conditions, and inflation is almost always higher in the absence of an inflation target.

Toby Nangle, Anthony Yates, 12 October 2017

Among the many in quantitative easing programmes that central banks have engaged in to combat low inflation since the Global Crisis, the Bank of Japan’s programme stands out for its size and scope. This column explores whether the Bank’s programme of purchasing Japanese equities through exchange-traded funds has succeeded in its aim of lowering risk premia of asset prices. The Bank has timed the execution of the programme to coincide with episodes of market weakness, possibly with the aim of dampening price volatility. Over the course of the programme, however, Japanese stocks de-rated against global stocks.

Paul Krugman, 09 October 2017

How did academic macroeconomics evolve? In this video, Paul Krugman explains how macroeconomic models fail to completely explain the events of the last decade. This video was recorded at the "10 years after the crisis" conference held in London, on 22 September 2017.

Leo de Haan, Jan Willem van den End, 29 September 2017

High asset prices can foreshadow tail risks in inflation. Based on data from 11 advanced economies since 1985, this column shows that high asset prices usually signal future high inflation episodes, but can occasionally signal low inflation or deflation instead. The transmission time of asset prices to inflation can be quite long. For central banks, this implies that the signalling content of asset prices for inflation is uncertain, both in timing and direction.

Klaus Adam, Henning Weber, 26 September 2017

The productivity of many firms evolves over time, which impacts the optimal inflation rate, that is, the rate of price increase with the least distortionary effect on relative goods prices. This column presents estimates for the US that suggest that, due to firm-level productivity changes, the optimal inflation rate has dropped from somewhat over 2% in the mid-1980s to a current level of roughly 1%.

Mojmir Hampl, Tomas Havranek, 12 September 2017

Seven out of every ten Europeans live in their own homes, yet Europe’s most important inflation measure excludes the costs associated with owner-occupied housing. This column argues that including the costs of home ownership would prove beneficial to the conduct of monetary and macroprudential policy. It would also bring the measure closer to what most people consider inflation to be.

Stefan Gerlach, 01 August 2017

With the Eurozone in recovery, at some stage the ECB will raise interest rates. This column examines the conditions that might lead to this happening. A statistical analysis suggests that the likelihood of an interest rate increase is currently about 7%, but a combination of stronger growth and higher price pressures could quickly raise this to about 30%. A return of the ECB to its pre-crisis behaviour would also lead to a dramatic rise in the likelihood of an interest rate increase.

Christiane Nickel, 28 July 2017

The past decade has seen a growing role for global slack in Phillips curve approaches, as opposed to the traditional focus on domestic slack. This column explores whether augmenting Phillips curves by measures of foreign slack can help to better explain past developments in underlying inflation. A majority of specifications, both with and without foreign slack, are found to yield very similar results. Even for periods when domestic slack differed substantially from foreign slack, like between 2012 and 2016, the effects seem to be rather small.

Charles Abuka, Ronnie Alinda, Camelia Minoiu, José-Luis Peydró, Andrea Presbitero, 29 June 2017

Existing studies suggest that the effects of monetary policy in developing countries on credit and the real economy are weak. This column challenges this view using rich loan-level credit register data from Uganda. It shows that monetary policy tightening significantly reduces credit supply – especially for banks with greater leverage and sovereign debt exposure – and identifies spillovers on inflation and economic activity. The effects are larger in more financially developed areas, highlighting the importance of financial development for policy effectiveness.

Andrew Scott, 12 June 2017

What is the right level of government debt and what type of debt should be issued? In this video, Andrew Scott discusses how long-term bonds affected the level of national debt. This video was recorded at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference held in Bristol in April 2017.

Myrvin L. Anthony, Narcissa Balta, Tom Best, Sanaa Nadeem, Eriko Togo, 06 June 2017

The case for state-contingent debt instruments, linking contractual debt to a pre-defined variable, has been theorised but not developed. This column gives a historical perspective of the issuance of these instruments to alleviate liquidity and/or solvency pressures on the sovereign in ‘normal times’ and during restructurings. It also discusses the valuable lessons that inflation-linked bonds provide for development of the state-contingent debt instrument market.

Stefan Gerlach, 05 June 2017

In many economies, inflation may have remained stubbornly low during the recovery because their Phillips curves have become flatter. This column uses an analysis of Swiss data since 1916 that support this argument. The most recent structural break in the Swiss Phillips curve occurred in 1994, when it became much flatter. Previous structural breaks suggest that this has been a change from an above-average to a below-average slope, not a collapse from the long-term normal level.

James Stock, 02 June 2017

How do unexpected changes in the economy affect inflation or GDP growth rate? In this video, James Stock explains how unexpected changes can be isolated. This video was recorded at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference held in Bristol in April 2017.

Fredrik Andersson, Lars Jonung, 08 May 2017

Inflation-targeting central banks commonly fail to hit their official inflation targets, so targets are combined with a tolerance band which is either implicit or explicit. Taking the Swedish Riksbank as an example, this column argues that adopting an explicit tolerance band would better communicate to the public the central bank’s lack of full control over the rate of inflation and thus foster public confidence in monetary policy, and it would also increase the central bank’s ability to stabilise the economy. The width of the band can be derived from the historical inflation outcome. 

Ed Balls, Anna Stansbury, 01 May 2017

Until recently, the independence granted to the Bank of England 20 years ago had gone unchallenged. But the financial crisis has raised questions over whether central bank independence is necessary, feasible, and democratic. This column revisits the relationship between inflation and the operational and political independence of the central bank in advanced economies. The findings support the Bank of England model of monetary policy independence: fully operationally independent, but somewhat politically dependent. To make operational independence work, however, further reforms are needed to the model in both monetary–fiscal coordination and macroprudential policy.

Raphael Auer, Claudio Borio, Andrew Filardo, 28 April 2017

In the past two decades, international trade has been transformed by the rise of global value chains. This column suggests that the rise of global value chains can help resolve the puzzle of the increasingly global nature of domestic inflation. Their expansion has greatly increased international competition for both intermediate and final goods and services, meaning price pressures arising from economic slack in one country become more relevant for others. This may be changing the trade-offs central banks face when managing domestic inflation.

Michael Bordo, 23 April 2017

Beginning in 1944, the Bretton Woods system played a major role in shaping the global economy in the post-war period. This column describes how although it was successful in bringing about exemplary and stable economic performance in the 1950s and 1960s, familiar confidence and liquidity problems, as well as inflationary pressure and central bankers’ responses to it, ensured that Bretton Woods was short-lived. Nonetheless, legacies of the system, like the dollar standard, remain with us and will likely be with us for some time to come.

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