International finance

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.

Chad Bown, 10 May 2019

Who will be the biggest loser in this trade war? Chad Bown tells Tim Phillips why it could be the WTO's dispute resolution system, and why we should worry if this happens.

Emmanuel Farhi, Francois Gourio, 10 March 2019

Most developed economies have experienced large declines in risk-free interest rates and lacklustre investment over the past 30 years, while the profitability of private capital has increased slightly. Using an extension of the neoclassical growth model, this column identifies what accounts for these developments. It finds that rising market power, rising unmeasured intangibles, and rising risk premia play a crucial role, over and above the traditional culprits of increasing savings supply and technological growth slowdown.

Olivier Dessaint, Thierry Foucault, Laurent Frésard, Adrien Matray, 05 March 2019

Stock prices respond to fundamental shocks (i.e. news) and non-fundamental shocks (noise). Using US data from 1996 to 2011, this column argues that stock prices are a ‘faulty informant’ for corporate managers because managers have limited ability to separate information from noise when using prices as signals about their prospects. The ensuing losses of capital investment and shareholders’ wealth are large and even affect firms that are not facing severe financing constraints or agency problems.

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