Macroeconomic policy

Ralf Fendel, Nicola Mai, Oliver Mohr, 17 January 2019

The flattening of the US yield curve has left academics, central bankers and market commentators divided, with one camp interpreting it as a sign of impending recession (in line with historical patterns), and the other camp arguing that this time is different given unprecedented changes in monetary policy and other structural forces. This column argues that the ECB’s quantitative easing programme undermined the performance of term spreads as predictors of recessions. It suggests and tests a modified term spread and several other variables that are more successful at predicting recessions. 

Wouter den Haan, Thomas Drechsel, 16 January 2019

It is unavoidable that empirical models are misspecified in various ways, but adopted empirical methodologies rarely address this. This column focuses on the misspecification of exogenous structural disturbances which are the forces that drive fluctuations in modern business cycle models. It shows that the conclusions drawn from estimated models can be severely distorted if structural disturbances enter the model in an incorrect way, even if the misspecification is minor. It proposes the novel concept of an agnostic structural disturbance, which can be used to detect and correct for misspecification of structural disturbances. While agnostic in nature, studying how ASDs affect model properties enables us to give them an economic interpretation.

Samba Mbaye, Marialuz Moreno Badia, Kyungla Chae, 12 January 2019

Since the financial crisis researchers have extensively explored the dangers of excessive public debt, but excessive private debt has received less attention. This column documents a common form of indirect private sector bailout that goes largely unnoticed. Whenever households and firms are caught in a debt overhang and need to deleverage, governments come to the rescue through a countercyclical rise in public debt. This indirect substitution takes place even in the absence of a crisis.

Meghana Ayyagari, Thorsten Beck, Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, 11 December 2018

Macroprudential tools have been implemented widely following the Global Crisis. Using data from 900,000 firms in 49 countries, this column finds that such policies are associated with lower credit growth during the period 2003-2011. The effects are especially significant for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and young firms that are more financially constrained and bank dependent. The results imply a trade-off between financial stability and inclusion.

Jane Kelly, Julia Le Blanc, Reamonn Lydon, 25 November 2018

Loan-to-value limits and other borrower-based macroprudential measures are now used in two-thirds of advanced economies. This column uses survey data to document changes in credit standards in a cross-section of countries in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the financial crisis. There is clear evidence of laxer credit standards in countries that experienced a real estate boom-bust, and a significant tightening after the bust. The results imply that compared to earlier years, younger and lower-income borrowers have to save for longer before buying.

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