Thorsten Beck, Jan Keil, 11 March 2021

Across the globe, economies have been hit hard and fast by COVID-19. This column explores the effect of the pandemic on US banks’ health and their ability to support the economy with lending, using a novel measure to gauge banks’ exposure to COVID-19 and lockdown measures. The findings suggest that banks are catching coronavirus, although the effect is not so obvious from bank balance sheets given the easing of regulatory requirements on loan classification and provisioning. Exposure to COVID has led to an increase in lending to support the economy, but driven by government support programmes, as well as a tightening in loan conditionality. 

Pontus Rendahl, Lukas B. Freund, 14 December 2019

In recent years, some have claimed that banks create money ‘ex nihilo’. This column explains that banks do not create money out of thin air. From an economic viewpoint, commercial banks create private money by transforming an illiquid asset (the borrower’s future ability to repay) into a liquid one (bank deposits); they would quickly be insolvent otherwise. In addition to bank solvency representing a constraint on private money creation, banks require access to liquid reserves in order to be able to engage in money creation. 

Jon Frost, Leonardo Gambacorta, Yi Huang, Hyun Song Shin, Pablo Zbinden, 04 October 2019

BigTech firms are entering finance, and their access to massive amounts of information may give them an edge in areas like credit assessment and beyond. This column assesses the economic forces behind the adoption of Big Tech services in finance. It shows that BigTech lenders thrive in countries with less competitive banks and less strict regulation, and that they have an information advantage from the use of big data and machine learning.

Tito Cordella, Andrew Powell, 02 September 2019

Countries almost always repay loans from the IMF and the World Bank before others, even though this preferred treatment rarely appears in legal contracts. This column presents a framework to investigate this puzzle. It argues that the ability to restrict lending allows international financial institutions to lend at the risk-free rate and creates incentives for repayment. IMF and World Bank loans are thus complementary to commercial lending.

Matthew Jaremski, David Wheelock, 15 August 2019

In response to the Global Crisis a decade ago, banks have tried to make themselves more resilient to shocks transmitted through interbank connections. But the opacity of interbank networks makes it difficult to measure the effectiveness of such policies. This column uses evidence from 20th century America to show how the founding of the Federal Reserve and the Great Depression affected interbank networks and lending practices. The creation of the Fed reduced network concentration and therefore contagion risk, but the system remained vulnerable to local panics.

Çağatay Bircan, Orkun Saka, 10 May 2019

Government ownership of banks can help solve credit market failures and stabilise the supply of credit over the business cycle. However, it can also end up serving political interests and lead to a misallocation of financial resources. This column provides new evidence that state-owned banks systematically engage in tactical redistribution of credit in line with the political incentives of those in power. Analysing the geographical distribution of all lending and economic activity in Turkey, it shows that the central government may use commercial lending by state-owned banks to support allies in local elections.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Aitor Erce, Timothy Uy, 13 February 2019

During the euro area crisis, management of official loan maturities emerged as a critical item in the discussion on which instruments and strategies are most effective at ensuring debt sustainability. Using a theoretical model calibrated to Portugal and cross-country data, this column shows that lengthening loan maturities and managing debt repayment flows has substantial effects on sustainability. It also unveils a key policy trade-off in official lending between increasing the amount of safe debt (immune from rollover risk) and strengthening the incentive to default in response to negative shocks to fundamentals.

Olena Havrylchyk, 11 December 2018

Lending-based crowdfunding platforms represent an opportunity for financial intermediation that is less leveraged, less prone to runs, and easier to resolve. This column reviews the regulatory regimes for such platforms in OECD countries and the European Commission’s proposal for the EU-wide passporting regime. Regulation requires a balance to be struck between a flexible approach that allows experimentation and strong supervision to address market failures. 

Laura Straeter, Jessica Exton, 23 September 2018

Although money may be a taboo topic amongst friends, one’s social networks can offer help in times of personal financial straits. This column examines people’s willingness to borrow money from or lend to close friends for everyday purchases and finds that friends are much more willing to lend than to ask to borrow, and that this gap between borrower and lender widens as requests are repeated. Ensuring that there is occasion for reciprocation and using technological tools to regulate the peer-to-peer loan may help improve this suboptimal informal lending market.

Gauti Eggertsson, Ragnar Juelsrud, Ella Getz Wold, 31 January 2018

Economists disagree on the macroeconomic role of negative interest rates. This column describes how, due to an apparent zero lower bound on deposit rates, negative policy rates have so far had very limited impact on the deposit rates faced by households and firms, and this lower bound on the deposit rate seems to be causing a decline in pass-through to lending rates as well. Negative interest rates thus appear ineffective in stimulating aggregate demand.

S. M. Ali Abbas, Daniel Hardy, Jun Kim, Alex Pienkowski, 06 June 2017

The theoretical benefits of state-contingent debt instruments for sovereigns – such as GDP-linked and extendible bonds – have been advocated by academics for several decades, but only recently have the practical constraints and considerations been explored in detail. This column summarises this more recent work, highlighting key findings on instrument design and on broader market development prospects. 

Kristin Forbes, Dennis Reinhardt, Tomasz Wieladek, 23 December 2016

Globalisation is in retreat, but while the slowdown in trade is widely recognised, what is more striking is the collapse of global capital flows. This column shows how banking deglobalisation is a substantial contributor to the sharp slowdown in global capital flows. It finds that certain types of unconventional monetary policy, and their interactions with regulatory policy, can have important global spillovers. Policies designed to support domestic lending may have had the unintended consequence of amplifying the impact of microprudential capital requirements on external lending.


The conference, jointly organised with Horizon 2020 ADEMU and The European Stability Mechanism (ESM), aims to bring together leading scholars to discuss theoretical and empirical issues in sovereign debt sustainability. In particular, we are interested in papers that deal with debt maturity structure, official lending, crisis resolution frameworks, and multiple equilibria, among others. The goal is to identify priorities for both future research and policy-making as it relates to recent developments in the Euro Area and multilateral lending frameworks. The conference will be structured to facilitate interaction and discussion among leading academics and policymakers. 

Anya Kleymenova, Andrew Rose, Tomasz Wieladek, 05 April 2016

Post-crisis banking is in trouble, with cross-border bank lending significantly slower than before. Many economists think that this is down to complications from government ownership. This column argues that although government ownership is not the only possible friction or reason for cross-border bank lending, it is an inhibitor of cross-border bank activity in both the UK and the US. If the same mechanism applies to other countries around the world, then global banking intermediation may rebound once again, once banks are privatised.

Jaap Bos, Ralph De Haas, Matteo Millone, 22 March 2016

Screening loan applicants is a key principle of sound banking, but it can be challenging when trustworthy information about applicants is not available. Many countries have therefore introduced credit registries that require banks to share borrower information. This column examines how the introduction of a new registry affected the functioning of the credit market in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mandatory information sharing allowed loan officers to lend more conservatively at both the extensive and intensive margins. The improved credit allocation improved loan quality and lender profitability.

Sumit Agarwal, Souphala Chomsisengphet, Neale Mahoney, Johannes Stroebel, 09 January 2016

During the Great Recession, governments famously (and in some cases, infamously) provided banks with lower-cost capital and liquidity so that they would lend, expanding economic activity. This column assesses the efficacy of these policies, estimating marginal propensities to consume and borrow between 2008-2012.

Giorgio Barba Navaretti, Giacomo Calzolari, Alberto Pozzolo, 18 November 2015

Small and medium-sized enterprises are supposed to be the key to growth, everywhere. These enterprises are risky, and when they are so important to the well-being of an economy, someone must bear the risk of funding them. This column argues that there is a real need for policymakers to focus on how we finance SMEs, as getting the institutions and structures right can pay dividends in the long run.

Chun Chang, Kaiji Chen, Daniel Waggoner, Tao Zha, 01 August 2015

China’s spectacular growth over the 2000s has slowed since 2013. The driving force behind the country’s growth was investment, so the key to understanding the slowdown lies in understanding what sustained investment in the past. This column shows how a preferential credit policy promoting heavy industrialisation explains the trends and cycles in China’s macroeconomy over the past two decades. This policy was not without negative consequences, particularly in terms of the distortions it introduced for business finance. Going forward, China needs to focus on creating the right incentives for banks to make loans to small productive businesses.

Giorgio Barba Navaretti, Giacomo Calzolari, Alberto Pozzolo, 08 July 2015

Capital requirements for banks have been raised since the Global Crisis in order to increase their resilience during periods of distress. This column introduces a new online journal, the first issue of which publishes a set of articles that studies the trade-off between hedging systemic risk and expanding lending to the real economy. 

Clemens Jobst, Stefano Ugolini, 23 June 2015

Central banks today provide liquidity exclusively through purchases of (mostly) government bonds and through collateralised open-market operations. This column considers the evolution of liquidity provision by central banks over the past two centuries, and argues that there are alternative approaches to those that are focused on today. One such alternative is a revival of the 19th century practice of uncollateralised lending. This would discourage market participants from relying on informational shortcuts, and reduce the likelihood that informational shocks trigger collateral crises.


CEPR Policy Research