Financial markets

Matteo Maggiori, Brent Neiman, Jesse Schreger, 18 June 2018

Currency is a far more important factor for cross-border capital flows than is typically assumed. This column demonstrates that investors exhibit a strong bias toward securities denominated in their home currency even when investing in bonds issued by developed countries, implying that the majority of foreign firms that do not issue foreign currency bonds typically do not borrow from abroad directly. A key exception to this pattern is the US, as the global taste for dollars enables smaller firms that issue only dollar-denominated bonds to access foreign capital. The benefit that the dollar’s status offers the US appears to have increased since the Global Crisis at the expense of the euro.

Jon Danielsson, 15 June 2018

Are cryptocurrencies the future of money, Ponzi schemes, speculators’ dreams, or just a prosperity gospel? While there is money to be made in the short run, this column argues that cryptocurrencies are lousy investments and will eventually reach a price of zero.

Arna Olafsson, Michaela Pagel, 07 June 2018

A large literature analyses whether individuals save adequately for retirement and plan properly. This column uses a detailed panel of individual spending, income, account balances, and credit limits from a personal finance management software provider to investigate how expenditures, liquid savings, and consumer debt change around retirement. It finds that, upon retirement, individuals reduce their spending in both work-related and leisure categories. In addition, individuals reduce their consumer debt and increase their liquid savings, which is inconsistent with existing models of insufficient planning. 

Andrew Ellul, Chotibhak Jotikasthira, Anastasia Kartasheva, Christian Lundblad, Wolf Wagner, 05 June 2018

Systemic risk analyses have largely focused on the linkages among financial institutions’ funding arrangements, but there are increasing connections between insurers and the rest of the financial system. This column explores how systemic risk can originate from insurers’ business models. In the event of negative asset shocks, insurers’ collective allocation to illiquid bonds leads to an amplification of system-wide fire sales. These dynamics can plausibly erase up to 20-70% of insurers’ aggregate equity capital.

Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Álvaro Leandro, 01 June 2018

The euro area lacks a common safe asset, leaving banks to rely on bonds issued by their own countries and thus magnifying fiscal crises and contributing to financial fragmentation. To address this problem, an influential proposal advocates sovereign-bond backed securities, the most senior of which would play the role of safe asset. This column, which introduces a new CEPR Policy Insight, investigates whether criticism of the proposal’s reliance on securitisation is justified and compares it with alternatives that would not require tranching.

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