Egle Jakucionyte, Swapnil Singh, 09 November 2020

Mortgage markets are dynamic in nature, which sometimes comes at a cost. This column shows that over the last few decades, the US mortgage market experienced a secular decline in co-borrowers. Having a co-borrower minimises the exposure and effects of adverse income shocks and thus should enhance mortgage performance. The authors show that this yet unexplored decline in co-borrowers therefore has non-trivial implications for the financial stability of the mortgage market and regional economic outcomes. 

Paweł Baranowski, Wirginia Doryń, Tomasz Łyziak, Ewa Stanisławska, 22 October 2020

To achieve macroeconomic stabilisation, central banks attempt to manage the expectations of the private sector. Decisions on short-term interest rates and communication can both impact expectations, but communication is especially important under the effective lower bound, when the room to move interest rates down is limited. Using data from Poland, this column shows that while monetary policy shapes the expectations of the private sector through both communication and interest rate decisions, the impact can differ depending on the variable forecasted and on the forecasting horizon.

Alexander Chudik, Kamiar Mohaddes, M. Hashem Pesaran, Mehdi Raissi, Alessandro Rebucci, 19 October 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented in its global reach and impact, posing formidable challenges to policymakers and to the empirical analysis of its direct and indirect effects within the interconnected global economy. This column uses a ‘threshold-augmented multi-country econometric model’ to help quantify the impact of the Covid-19 shock along several dimensions. The results of the analysis show that the global recession will be long lasting, with no country escaping its impact regardless of their mitigation strategy. These findings call for a coordinated multi-country policy response to the pandemic.

Branko Milanovic, 06 October 2020

Recent analyses of developments in global inequality have largely been based on relatively old data. By widening the country coverage and using household-based data from each country, this column surveys developments in the global income distribution since the 2008 Global Crisis and brings the analysis up to 2013-14. Broadly speaking, the post-2008 period was good for the globally poor and for the global middle class; it was not good for the Western middle classes and the global top 1%. If developments from the past three decades continue for another 20 years, the gap between the West and Asia will shrink further and will eventually entirely disappear.

Gerdien Meijerink, Bram Hendriks, Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, 02 October 2020

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a 14% dive in world trade by April 2020. Using the CPB’s World Trade Monitor and a Bayesian VAR model, this column compares the recent contraction, and partial recovery, to the 2008/2009 Global Crisis and the Great Depression. The current trade recession appears to have a sharper ‘V-shape’, with a stronger collapse but a quicker recovery than the previous crises.

Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 24 September 2020

The coronavirus pandemic caused a catastrophic collapse in the world economy. This column analyses the path of this decline and compares it to two other major global crises: the Great Depression in the 1930s and the Great Recession following the banking crisis of 2007-2008. It argues that COVID-19 led to both negative demand and supply shocks, resulting in a contraction of industrial production at an unprecedented pace. However, a combination of strong government policies and a functioning banking sector have led to a swifter rebound in economic activity following the coronavirus shock in comparison with the previous two crises.

Alistair Dieppe, 18 September 2020

Since the 2008 global financial crisis, improvements in many key correlates of productivity growth have slowed or gone into reverse, and labour reallocation to more productive sectors from less productive ones has also weakened. Furthermore, the pace of convergence of emerging market and developing economies to advanced-economy productivity levels has slowed. This column argues that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to compound the slowdown, with profound implications for development outcomes. A comprehensive broad-based approach is necessary to rekindle productivity.

Yuxian Chen, Yannis Ioannides, 15 September 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging at the beginning of the summer of 2020, countries that depend heavily on international tourism were confronted with the dilemma of whether or not to let travel restart. This column uses international data to explore the relationship between tourism specialisation and short-run economic growth. The results suggest that a 1% increase in tourism specialisation is associated with 0.01 percentage point increase in the growth rate of GDP per capita for OECD countries. This is in line with previous findings but is based on up-to-date panel data.

Itamar Drechsler, Alexi Savov, Philipp Schnabl, 11 September 2020

In a recent speech in Jackson Hole, Fed Chair Jay Powell laid out the Fed’s new monetary policy framework.  Under this framework, the Fed will allow inflation to run above its 2% target in order to boost employment following a downturn.  The new framework marks a departure from the perceived wisdom of the 1970s’ Great Inflation.  Under this perceived wisdom, the Fed must respond aggressively to rising inflation or risk losing its credibility and letting inflation spiral out of control.  New research on the Great Inflation challenges this perceived wisdom and offers a new explanation for what really drives inflation.  Instead of Fed credibility, this explanation puts the financial system and how it transmits monetary policy front and centre.  In doing so, it reconciles the 1970s with the current environment and provides a foundation for understanding why the Fed’s new framework is unlikely to trigger runaway inflation.

Eric Lonergan, Megan Greene, 03 September 2020

The low interest rate environment since the Global Financial Crisis has led economists and analysts to suggest that major central banks have run out of monetary policy tools with which to face major downturns, including the Covid-19 crisis. This column argues that a dual interest rate approach could help to eliminate the effective lower bound and given central banks infinite fire power. By employing dual interest rates, central banks can go beyond targeting short-term interest rates and providing emergency liquidity to provide a stimulus across the economy. As political support for fiscal stimulus in the face of the Covid-19 crisis wanes, central banks can and should step in with overwhelming force.

Robert McCauley, 26 August 2020

On 23 March 2020, the Federal Reserve announced that it would buy investment grade corporate bonds, and on 9 April set the amount at up to $250 billion and extended the purchase to junk bonds. This column shows that these interventions succeeded in stabilising credit markets: prices lifted and dealing spreads narrowed. However, emergency lending powers provide an inadequate basis for Federal Reserve operations in corporate bonds. In light of these findings, congressional authority to buy and to sell corporate bonds alongside US Treasuries would help to align Federal Reserve operations with what has become a capital-market centred financial system

Davide Delle Monache, Ivan Petrella, Fabrizio Venditti, 24 August 2020

The fast rebound of US stock prices following the Covid-19 shock has reignited discussions over ‘frothiness’ in stock markets. This column examines how asset prices are affected by drastic shocks to the real economy, and what factors drive this relationship. Evidence from the investigation suggests that, from a longer-term perspective, high asset valuations may reflect more than just investor optimism. The greater expected income, in comparison to government bonds, could be the key as to why investors are continuing to trust in the stock market, irrespective of the turbulent wider economic climate.

Gaston Gelos, Umang Rawat, Hanqing Ye, 20 August 2020

Emerging markets and developing countries are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks such as that posed by COVID-19, not least because of their often weaker monetary policy frameworks. This column discusses the extent to which these economies have been able to react to the crisis with a loosening of monetary policy. While the initial inflation level is an important determinant of a country’s ability to cut rates, additional institutional factors can also affect their ability to conduct countercyclical monetary policy during the crisis.   

Robin Döttling, Sehoon Kim, 19 August 2020

Socially responsible investing has been at the centre of recent regulatory scrutiny and academic debate. This column explores how retail investors’ preferences for socially responsible investments respond to market distress, as revealed within mutual fund flows during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results suggest that funds with the highest sustainability ratings experience sharper declines in flows. This suggests that there tends to be a shift away from sustainability among retail investors’ preferences in the face of an economic shock, highlighting a source of fragility in the increasingly popular socially responsible investment  market. 

Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, 15 August 2020

Lockdown measures, contact tracing, and widespread testing have dominated the policy responses of many countries to the Covid-19 crisis. This column argues that a universal testing and isolation policy is the most viable way to vanquish the pandemic. Its implementation requires an epidemiological, rather than clinical, approach to testing, and requires the ramping up of testing kit production in order to achieve a scale and speed that the market alone would fail to provide. The estimated cost of universal testing is dwarfed by its return, mitigating the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Marcin Wolski, Patricia Wruuck, 05 August 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has had a substantial impact on labour markets throughout Europe. This column uses new data sources based on Google Trends reports in order to investigate the speed of transmission of the crisis into individuals’ concerns about becoming unemployed. The results indicate that this transmission is linked to corporate resilience. A stronger financial position of firms to withstand liquidity shortfalls may have helped to cushion the deterioration in job market sentiment during the outbreak of the pandemic, suggesting the importance of bolstering liquidity as a way of sheltering jobs. 

Marco Le Moglie, Giuseppe Sorrenti, 01 August 2020

Criminal organisations invest vast sums of money within the legal economies of many countries worldwide. These investments provide criminal organisations with a powerful tool to raise forms of social consensus in some portions of the population. This column provides a characterisation of organised crime’s investment in Italy’s legal economy, a country historically plagued by the presence of criminal groups. The results indicate that during periods of economic and social downturn, organised crime may capitalise on the weaknesses of the institutional response to the crisis, consolidating and possibly expanding, its role as an investor in the legal economy.

Gianluca Violante, 31 July 2020

Most high earners bounce back from recessions. But Gianluca Violante tells Tim Phillips that, for the last 50 years, it has been a different story for low earners. 

Muhammad Cheema, Robert Faff, Kenneth Szulczyk, 25 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the financial markets, which has triggered a flight from risky assets to safe haven assets. This column compares the performance of the safe havens across the world’s ten largest economies during COVID-19 and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The findings suggest that the character of safe haven assets has changed since the 2008 crisis. Gold, the traditional safe haven asset, has lost its glitter. However, the Swiss franc, the US dollar and US Treasuries retained their safe haven status, and Tether, a cryptocurrency, shows some promise.

Robin Greenwood, Samuel G. Hanson, Andrei Shleifer, Jakob Ahm Sørensen, 15 July 2020

There is a long-standing debate on whether financial crises can be predicted. This column draws on a chronology of past financial crises and data on credit and asset prices for a panel of 42 countries between 1950-2016 and finds that if there is a large credit expansion with an asset price boom, then financial crises are highly predictable. These results are used to motivate a simple indicator that identifies periods of potential credit-market overheating. The indicator is shown to predict past crises in advance, suggesting that policymakers have time to act and take prophylactic policy interventions.

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