Monetary policy

Martin Eichenbaum, Sérgio Rebelo, Arlene Wong, 02 December 2018

Mortgage rate systems vary in practice across countries, and understanding the impact of these differences is critical to the design of optimal monetary policy. This column focuses on the US, where most mortgages have a fixed interest rate and no prepayment penalties, and demonstrates that the efficacy of monetary policy is state dependent, varying in a systematic way with the pool of potential savings from refinancing. As refinancing costs decline, the effects of monetary policy become less state dependent.

Patrice Baubeau, Eric Monnet, Angelo Riva, Stefano Ungaro, 29 November 2018

Previous research has downplayed the role of banking panics and financial factors in the French Great Depression. This column uses a newly assembled dataset of balance sheets for more than 400 French banks from the interwar period to challenge this long-held idea. The empirical results show two dramatic waves of panic in 1930 and 1931, and point to a flight-to-safety mechanism. The findings illustrate how minor macroeconomic assumptions and extrapolations on monetary statistics can introduce large, persistent biases in historiography.

Marco Del Negro, Domenico Giannone, Marc Giannoni, Andrea Tambalotti, 12 November 2018

Interest rates are at their lowest levels of the last 150 years in virtually all advanced economies. This column argues that this unprecedented environment reflects secular global forces that have lowered the trend in the world real interest rate by about two percentage points over the past 30 to 40 years. Whatever forces might lift real interest rates in the future must also be global, such as a sustained pickup in world economic growth, or a better alignment between the global demand and supply for safe and liquid assets.

Idris Ademuyiwa, Pierre Siklos, Samantha St. Amand, 08 November 2018

Changes in central banks’ balance sheets are often used as an indicator of monetary policy stance. This column describes the challenges associated with using balance sheet data to analyse policy. Data for 31 advanced and emerging economies reveal a potentially negative, albeit tenuous, relationship between balance sheet policies and monetary policy objectives. The finding calls for more detailed and consistent balance sheet accounting from central banks around the world.

Alex Cukierman, 02 November 2018

The size and nature of an economy have a crucial influence on the measures that can be taken in response to major shocks. This column investigates the forex interventions taken by Switzerland and Israel – two small, open economies – in the wake of the Global Crisis. While discretionary interventions are shown to be preferable when policy rates are strictly positive, this is no longer valid when the effective lower bound is reached and unconventional monetary policy is called for. The transfer of reserve management to a sovereign wealth fund is also discussed. 

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