Global economy

Andreas Fischer, Henrike Leonie Groeger, Philip Sauré, Pınar Yeşin, 09 December 2019

Global imbalances are at the core of today’s trade tensions, but official current account statistics may not be sufficient to assess the external positions of financially integrated economies. For instance, balance of payments accounting standards do not prescribe the recording of retained earnings on portfolio equity investment in the current account. This column argues that adjustments in income flows in equity investment therefore remain concealed in official current account statistics. In today’s financially integrated world with existing accounting standards, external adjustment mechanisms should be considered more broadly than just as an evolution of trade balance and exchange rate movements. 

Paweł Kopiec, 06 December 2019

Research shows that individual spending behaviour is heterogeneous across households and that it depends on characteristics such as income and wealth. Using Italian data, this column shows that household heterogeneity plays a crucial role in the propagation of fiscal expenditure shocks. Household inequality gives rise to a rich set of new channels that propagate government expenditures shocks through consumer spending, which are related to households’ balance sheets and monetary-fiscal interactions. The values of the fiscal multiplier diverge from those predicted by the standard macroeconomic framework and the difference is particularly large at the zero lower bound.

Menzie Chinn, Hiro Ito, 21 November 2019

Global imbalances have reappeared, somewhat transformed, and relocated. Using data from developing and industrialised countries covering 1972-2016, this column shows that fiscal factors, rather than savings glut variables, have accounted for a noticeable share of the recent variation in imbalances, including in the US and Germany. The contribution of demographic factors is large for industrialised countries but not for emerging markets. Net official flows shape global imbalances in both developing and industrialised countries. 

Céline Carrère, Anja Grujovic, Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 13 November 2019

Unemployment is absent from most quantitative trade models in the academic literature. Using a trade model that also includes unemployment and data between 2001 and 2008, this column shows that repealing NAFTA and the imposition of 20% bilateral tariffs between the US and Mexico in all sectors would reduce welfare by 0.31% in the US and by 6.6% in Mexico. An US increase of trade barriers on motor vehicles against imports from all countries bar Mexico and Canada would lead to a decrease in long-run welfare and employment in both Mexico and the US as well as in major car-producing countries. 

Markus Baldauf, Joshua Mollner, 31 October 2019

Financial markets process orders faster than ever before. Although faster speeds are associated with smaller spreads, they may also lead to less informative prices. This column captures this trade-off within a theoretical model of high-frequency trading in modern financial markets. It then uses the model to evaluate some potential market design responses to high-frequency trading that are currently in debate. In particular, it shows that asymmetric speed bumps improve markets by eliminating an inefficient form of high-frequency trading.

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