Macroeconomic policy

Jan Hannes Lang, Peter Welz, 11 March 2019

Financial crises are often preceded by credit excesses, but how do we know when credit is excessive? This column shows that deviations of household credit from levels that are justified by economic fundamentals exhibit long cycles of 15 to 25 years with large amplitudes of around 20%. Household credit excesses build up many years ahead of financial crises and only gradually unwind thereafter. Most importantly, higher levels of household credit imbalances are associated with larger declines in real GDP once a financial crisis hits. The findings suggest that household credit cycles should be carefully monitored by macroprudential policymakers to ensure financial stability.

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.

Gilles Saint-Paul, 07 March 2019

Macroeconomic populism typically leads to higher levels of public debt, public spending, deficits, and crises. Nevertheless, this column argues that it is rational for groups of voters to vote for a populist who reflects their interests, because they will be favoured when a fiscal adjustment occurs. The greater the fiscal adjustment required, the more likely voters are to elect a populist who will discriminate between groups. 

Gaston Gelos, Federico Grinberg, Shujaat Khan, Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli, Machiko Narita, Umang Rawat, 28 February 2019

There is little evidence on whether deteriorating household balance sheets in advanced economies have made monetary policy less effective since the Global Crisis. Using US household-level data, this column shows that the responsiveness of household consumption to monetary policy has in fact diminished since the crisis, and that households with the highest indebtedness responded the most to monetary policy shocks. Since the distribution of debt did not change after the crisis, this suggests that household debt did not contribute to lessening the effects of monetary policy over time. 

Carlo Altavilla, Wolfgang Lemke, Roberto Motto, Natacha Valla, 28 February 2019

The ECB Conference on Monetary Policy took place in Frankfurt from 29 to 30 October 2018. This column describes presentations on topics including the interaction of monetary policy and financial markets, the relevance of banks and credit flows for monetary policy transmission, and the current challenges for monetary policy frameworks and strategies. The conference provided a forum for academic research and the practice of central banking to meet. 

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