International finance

Patrick Honohan, Martin Sandbu, 27 September 2019

Patrick Honohan took over as governor of the Central Bank of Ireland in 2009 with the economy in meltdown, and steered it through its deepest crisis. His new book re-examines what happened, and lessons for future crises. Tim Phillips talks to Patrick and the FT's Martin Sandbu about what policymakers and central bankers can learn from Ireland's ordeal.


Lucrezia Reichlin, Adair Turner, Michael Woodford, 23 September 2019

With persistently weak economic conditions becoming the norm in Europe, economists are considering increasingly unconventional policy options. One tool that has yet to be taken out of storage is ‘helicopter money’, i.e. the overt monetary financing of government deficits. This column recounts a policy debate on helicopter money that was held at LBS in April 2013 among three of the world’s leading monetary economists.

Tito Cordella, Andrew Powell, 02 September 2019

Countries almost always repay loans from the IMF and the World Bank before others, even though this preferred treatment rarely appears in legal contracts. This column presents a framework to investigate this puzzle. It argues that the ability to restrict lending allows international financial institutions to lend at the risk-free rate and creates incentives for repayment. IMF and World Bank loans are thus complementary to commercial lending.

Eiji Ogawa, Makoto Muto, 26 July 2019

Given the US dollar’s historical prominence in international currency systems, it can be argued that a large part of its present-day importance is due to inertia. This column analyses the determinants of the utility of four international currencies, focusing on the liquidity premium. It shows that while inertia does have a strong effect on a currency’s utility, a liquidity shortage can also reduce the utility of an international currency.

Marlene Amstad, Zhiguo He, 16 July 2019

China’s corporate bond ratings are sharply skewed upward, which is partly explained by the large amounts of bonds by issuers who are mostly linked to the government. This column proposes credit spreads as an alternative, market-based measure of credit risk. It also argues that the main reason for the high credit ratings and low dispersion of credit spreads is the very short and limited history of defaults in China. The post-2014 sharp rise in corporate bond defaults is therefore essential for further market development, particularly because Chinese defaults remain low relative to global standards.

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