Shusen Qi, Ralph De Haas, Steven Ongena, Stefan Straetmans, 03 March 2021

Digitalisation, FinTech, and the expansion of mobile banking have changed the way in which many banks operate on a day-to-day basis, including where they choose to have physical branches. This column explores the effect of digitalisation on the geography of banks, testing the effects of digital information-sharing on branch locations in Europe. findings suggest that information sharing has a strong positive effect on branch clustering, with banks more likely to open new branches in areas where they do not yet operate but where other banks are already present.

Hans Degryse, Mike Mariathasan, Thi Hien Tang, 29 January 2021

Frequent bailouts during the Global Crisis showed that governments cannot credibly commit not to support large financial institutions. This inability leads to moral hazard and motivated the Financial Stability Board’s framework for ‘global systemically important banks’. This column explores the net effects of this framework on the real economy, focusing on changes in corporate lending and the availability of credit as the basis to evaluate whether the framework is an effective way in which to reduce moral hazard and promote robust financial markets.

Moritz Schularick, Lucas ter Steege, Felix Ward, 12 January 2021

The question of whether monetary policymakers can defuse rising financial stability risks by ‘leaning against the wind’ and increasing interest rates has sparked considerable disagreement among economists. This column contributes to the debate by studying the state-dependent effects of monetary policy on financial stability, based on the ‘near-universe’ of advanced economy financial cycles since the 19th century. It shows that deploying discretionary leaning against the wind policies during credit and asset price booms are more likely to trigger crises than prevent them.

Kristina Bluwstein, Michał Brzoza-Brzezina, Paolo Gelain, Marcin Kolasa, 07 December 2020

Transmission of monetary policy depends to a large extent on the phase of the housing cycle. This is because residential property prices are important determinants of banks’ willingness to lend. This column presents analysis for the US which shows that in the mature phase of the housing market boom, or immediately after a bust began, the effects of a monetary expansion were smaller than they were earlier in the housing cycle. This is relevant for central banks which are considering responding to the Covid-19 pandemic by easing monetary policy during a period of relatively high house prices.

Tim Besley, Isabelle Roland, John Van Reenen, 09 March 2020

Since the Global Crisis, there has been a renewed awareness of how frictions in credit markets can damage economic efficiency due to a higher cost of capital and/or capital being misallocated away from its most productive uses. This column presents a new methodological approach for calculating the cost of credit frictions which can be implemented with relatively simple data in multiple contexts. It finds that credit market frictions explain half of the fall in UK productivity in the Great Recession and depress output by 28% on average.

Ufuk Akcigit, Yusuf Emre Akgündüz, Seyit Mümin Cilasun, Elif Ozcan-Tok, Fatih Yılmaz, 27 November 2019

Numerous empirical studies have shown a decrease in business dynamism in the US and other high-income countries in the last decades. This column investigates the case of the Turkish manufacturing sector. Results indicate that business dynamism in the sector has declined since 2012. Market concentration and exit rates have risen, and new business creation, the labour share in output and economic activities of young firms have fallen. Using an endogenous growth framework, it argues that the inability of follower firms to credibly challenge market leaders is a likely reason, brought on by a lack of access to finance.

Jon Frost, Leonardo Gambacorta, Yi Huang, Hyun Song Shin, Pablo Zbinden, 04 October 2019

BigTech firms are entering finance, and their access to massive amounts of information may give them an edge in areas like credit assessment and beyond. This column assesses the economic forces behind the adoption of Big Tech services in finance. It shows that BigTech lenders thrive in countries with less competitive banks and less strict regulation, and that they have an information advantage from the use of big data and machine learning.

Bo Becker, Victoria Ivashina, 28 March 2019

In the past 30 years, defaults on corporate bonds in the US have been substantially above the historical average. Using firm-level data, this column shows that the increase in credit risk can be largely attributed to an increase in the rate at which new and fast-growing firms displace incumbents, a phenomenon defined as ‘disruption’. Incumbent revenue growth suffers when there are many IPOs in an industry, and newly issued bonds in high-disruption industries have higher yields.

Hongda Zhong, 10 May 2016

Many assume that creditor coordination problems can only be a bad thing. In this Vox Views video, Hongda Zhong discusses the benefits of coordination problems among creditors. Such problems may create incentives for firms to pay debt back to avoid being cut out of the credit market in the future. The video was recorded in April 2016 at the First Annual Spring Symposium on Financial Economics organised by CEPR and the Brevan Howard Centre at Imperial College.

Gary Gorton, Guillermo Ordoñez, 27 March 2016

Credit booms are not rare and usually precede financial crises. However, some end in a crisis while others do not. This column argues that credit booms start with an increase in productivity, which subsequently falls much faster during ‘bad booms’. When this decline is severe enough, it changes the informational regime in credit markets, leading to a drying up of credit. A crisis may be the result of an exhausted credit boom and not necessarily of a negative productivity shock. 

Gregory Crawford, Nicola Pavanini, Fabiano Schivardi, 30 April 2015

Many studies argue that asymmetric information plays a key role in lending markets. This column presents new evidence on asymmetric information and imperfect competition on the Italian lending market. An increase in adverse selection causes most of the prices in the sample to increase, most of the quantities to fall, and most of the defaults to rise. However, there is substantial heterogeneity in the response to a rise in adverse selection. Market power could be an explanation why some markets can absorb such shocks better than others. 

Bo Becker, Victoria Ivashina, 03 May 2013

Fixed-income investors that have targets based on imperfect risk measures are tempted to take on additional risk to raise their portfolio yields. This column argues that when yields are low such ‘reaching for yield’ may be especially attractive. New research that quantifies reaching-for-yield for corporate-bond investors shows that insurance companies, which are regulated based on broad ratings categories, assume additional risk by selectively overweighting risker bonds within categories. There is evidence that this distorts pricing and issuance.

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