Global economy

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.

Emine Boz, Nan Li, Hongrui Zhang, 28 February 2019

It is commonly observed that economies specialising in sectors, such as services, that face relatively high trade costs tend to run current account deficits, while those specialising in more easily tradable sectors tend to run surpluses. This column tests the causality of this observation by constructing a measure of effective trade costs. Results show that although higher effective exporting costs are associated with lower current account balances, the impact of those costs is quantitatively limited. The findings suggest that the contribution of trade costs to observed global imbalances has been modest.

Maik Schmeling, Christian Wagner, 22 February 2019

According to Ben Bernanke, “monetary policy is 98% talk and 2% action”.Using data on policy rate announcements and press conferences by the ECB between 1999 and 2017, this column shows that central bank tone affects asset prices, even after controlling for policy actions and economic fundamentals. The results are consistent with the idea that communication tone is a monetary policy tool that allows central banks to affect the risk appetite of market participants and the risk premia they require.

Anil Kashyap , Natalia Kovrijnykh, Jian Li, Anna Pavlova, 18 February 2019

A well-known puzzle in economics is that when stocks are added to the S&P 500 index, their prices rise. Using a theoretical framework and empirical evidence, this column shows that this ‘benchmark inclusion subsidy’ arises because asset managers have incentives to hold some of the equity of firms in the benchmark regardless of the risk characteristics of these firms. As a result, asset managers effectively subsidise investments by benchmark firms. As the asset management industry continues to grow, the benchmark inclusion subsidy will only get bigger. 

Rui Esteves, 15 February 2019

A new data set compiles the history of international finance spanning a century and a half, revealing new information about globalisation, crises and capital flows. Rui Esteves of the Graduate Institute, Geneva, tells Tim Phillips what lessons it offers for policymakers today.

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