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.

Pierluigi Balduzzi, Emanuele Brancati, Fabio Schiantarelli, 09 November 2018

The Italian government has decided to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy, with increased welfare spending as its focus. This column uses evidence from the 2010-2012 sovereign debt crisis to explore the potential negative effects of this policy on private investment. It finds that an increase in a bank’s credit default swap spreads leads to lower investment and employment for younger and smaller firms and in the aggregate. These findings suggest the planned fiscal expansion could substantially crowd out private investment.

Matthieu Chavaz, Marc Flandreau, 01 December 2016

Between 1870 and 1914, 68 countries – both sovereign and British colonies – used the London Stock Exchange to issue bonds. This column argues that bond prices and spreads in this period show that the colonies’ semi-sovereignty lowered credit risk at the price of higher illiquidity risk, and further worsened liquidity by attracting investors that rarely traded. Parallels between Eurozone and colonial bonds suggest that the pricing of liquidity and credit in government bond markets is an institutional phenomenon.

Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 23 January 2012

Economists now agree that markets were wrong in placing the same risk premium on Greek bonds as on German bonds. But this column adds that today the same markets are also wrong in overestimating the risk that the periphery countries will default. Policymakers looking to calm such skittish markets should take note.

Paul De Grauwe, 07 February 2009

Spreads of sovereign debt within the eurozone have increased dramatically during the last few months, largely as a result of panic in the financial markets. When it engages in quantitative easing, the ECB should privilege the buying of Irish, Greek, Spanish and Italian government bonds to eliminate the distortions and the externalities that these spreads create.

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