International finance

Christoph Trebesch, 27 March 2020

In international crises, disasters and wars, private lenders disappear. But governments have stepped in and lent far more to each other than we previously thought. Christoph Trebesch tells Tim Phillips that new data on  200 years of official lending may contain unexpected good news for countries crippled by Covid-19.

Bo Becker, Ulrich Hege, Pierre Mella-Barral, 21 March 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to a steep, and potentially protracted, economic downturn. In response, many countries have implemented ambitious packages to support households and businesses. This column argues that in light of already elevated debt burdens, provisions for future debt restructuring should be made as soon as possible. These include carefully designed bailout packages, speedier in-court insolvency proceedings, and a stronger role of the state in dealing with renegotiations. Failure to plan and prepare for these cases could lead to a much slower economic recovery.

Sebastian Horn, Carmen Reinhart, Christoph Trebesch, 20 March 2020

The world is coping with a global disaster, as the new Coronavirus takes a toll on many lost lives and a severe impact on economic activity. To provide a long-run perspective, this column documents the international response to a variety of disasters since 1790. Based on a new comprehensive database on loans extended by governments and central banks, official (sovereign-to-sovereign) international lending is much larger than generally known. Official lending spikes in times of global turmoil, such as wars, financial crises or natural disasters. Indeed, in these periods, official capital flows have repeatedly surpassed total private capital flows in the past two centuries. Wars, in particular, were accompanied by large surges in the volume of official cross-border lending.

Martin Hodula, 16 March 2020

The shadow banking system has become an important source of funding worldwide for the real economy over the last two decades. Europe is no exception, though research on shadow banking there has been relative scarce. This column shows that European shadow banking is highly procyclical, intertwined with insurance corporations and pension funds, and a terminal station for regulatory arbitrage. It also discusses the existence of two main motives that explain the growth of shadow banking, both prior and post-Global Crisis: a funding-cost motive and a search-for-yield motive. 

Benjamin Born, Gernot Müller, Johannes Pfeifer, Susanne Wellmann, 13 March 2020

Country spreads have traditionally been discussed in the context of emerging market economies, which tend to have high and volatile spreads. This column analyses spreads for both emerging and advanced economies before and after the Global Crisis. It argues that an ‘unpleasant convergence’ took place after 2008 and that the behaviour of country spreads in advanced economies is now similar to that in emerging economies. This is due to a both a decline in the volatility of the spreads for most emerging economies and an increase in volatility for advanced economies.

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