Charles Goodhart, Tatjana Schulze, Dimitri Tsomocos, 04 August 2020

A decade of near-zero, and even negative, interest rates in advanced economies has both encouraged the continued accumulation of debt and a search for yield in riskier assets, while at the same time eroding bank profitability in the retail business. This column discusses some of the palliative measures that central banks have taken to offset the erosion of bank profitability, and raises the question of whether, and how, the longer-term implications of the excessive accretion of debt will be handled.

Maritta Paloviita, Markus Haavio, Pirkka Jalasjoki, Juha Kilponen, Ilona Vänni, 28 July 2020

The introductory statements made by the ECB are some of the most important sources of insight into the central banks’ policy goals. This column presents a textual analysis which seeks to measure the tone of the statements, with the aim of estimating the Governing Council's ‘loss function’. The results suggest that the ECB has been either more averse to inflation above the 2% ceiling, or that the de facto inflation target has been considerably below this threshold. The results also suggest that an inflation aim of 2%, combined with asymmetry, is a plausible specification of the ECB's wider preferences.

Alex Cukierman, 27 July 2020

The use of helicopter money as a monetary policy response to Covid-19 has drawn significant attention over recent months. This column offers a comparison of helicopter money and quantitative easing, as used in the wake of the global financial crisis. By evaluating the similarities and differences, as well as the contrasting contexts of each crisis, key advantages and disadvantages are identified. It concludes that the two policy mechanisms may not be as different as first thought, and helicopter money could well be crucial in combating the economic effects of COVID-19. 

Jean-Paul L'Huillier, Raphael Schoenle, 20 July 2020

Interest rates have remained close to zero in many economies since the Great Recession. This column explores the policy of raising the inflation target in order to generate greater macroeconomic ‘room’. Central banks face constraints when trying to achieve this extra room. The rationale is that by raising the inflation target, the private sector responds by increasing price flexibility. This lowers the potency of monetary policy and thereby endogenously removes part of the room generated by the higher target.

Charles Goodhart, 13 June 2020

The correlation between monetary growth and inflation has an historic pedigree as long as your arm. This column argues that rejecting the likelihood of (eventually) rising velocity following the current massive monetary expansion requires an alternative theory of inflation that has successfully eluded all of us thus far. Ignoring the potential inflationary dangers is the equivalent to an ostrich putting its head in the sand, and while the path towards disinflation may be well known, it simply isn’t available today.

Jeffrey Chwieroth, Andrew Walter, 23 May 2020

Although necessary, many of the economic policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis may end up damaging political incumbents in the medium and long term. This column presents evidence suggesting that voters expect great things from their leaders in deep crises. Yet the potential for great disappointment arises from the inevitable perceived inequities that will follow from the coronavirus crisis bailouts. As the pandemic exacerbates existing divisions within societies, the political costs predicted implies that only a minority of the most skilled political leaders are likely to survive this crisis.

Marcus Hagedorn, Kurt Mitman, 15 May 2020

Heterogeneous-Agent New Keynesian models offer new perspectives on fiscal and monetary policy interaction in the euro area. The current question is whether ECB measures are predominantly motivated to ensure price stability (with fiscal consequences a side effect), or whether they are motivated by an overriding economic policy objective. This column presents evidence that, according to the HANK models, there is no distinct separation between fiscal and monetary policy. Fiscal policy is an important determinant of inflation at the zero lower bound, and properly designed asset purchases are an effective instrument to satisfy the price stability mandate.

Francesco Bianchi, Renato Faccini, Leonardo Melosi, 13 May 2020

Fighting the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic poses a difficult task for fiscal and monetary authorities alike. The current low interest rate environment limits the tools of central banks while the record high debt levels curtail the efficacy of fiscal interventions. This column proposes a coordinated policy strategy aiming at creating a controlled rise of inflation and an increase in fiscal space in response to the COVID-19 shock. The strategy consists of the fiscal authority introducing an emergency budget while the monetary authority tolerates an increase in inflation to accommodate this emergency budget.

Fredrik N G Andersson, Lars Jonung, 08 May 2020

Negative interest rates were once seen as impossible outside the realm of economic theory. However, recently several central banks have imposed such rates, with prominent economists supporting this move. This column investigates the actual effects of negative interest rates, taking evidence from the Swedish experience during 2015-2019. It is evident that the policy’s effect on the inflation rate was modest, and that it contributed to increased financial vulnerabilities. The lesson from the experiment is clear: Do not do it again.

Marcin Kolasa, Grzegorz Wesołowski, 01 May 2020

Several major central banks announced new rounds of massive asset purchases following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. This policy instrument seems to have performed well for economies that have been implementing it since the Global Crisis, but its spillover impact on external countries has remained a bone of contention within the policy debate. Using previous episodes of quantitative easing as a guideline, this column analyses its international spillovers, showing that they are qualitatively and quantitatively different from the impact of changing short-term rates by the major central banks.

Tatiana Didier, Federico Huneeus, Mauricio Larrain, Sergio Schmukler, 24 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has nearly halted economic activity worldwide. Firm cash flows have collapsed, triggering inefficient bankruptcies as firms' valuable relationships are broken. This column proposes hibernation could allow firms to survive the pandemic, while preserving their vital relationships. All stakeholders could share the burden of economic inactivity, helping more firms to survive. However, financial systems are not well equipped to handle this type of exogenous and synchronised systemic shock so governments should work with the financial sector to keep firms afloat.

Johannes Bubeck, Angela Maddaloni, José-Luis Peydró, 23 April 2020

The way that banks in the euro area react to negative central bank interest rates may be closely linked to their individual funding structure. This column suggests that they do not generally pass negative rates on to their depositors, and that they search for yield by investing in riskier securities. New evidence suggests that their investments are directed more towards securities issued by the private sector and securities denominated in dollars.

Sebastian Hauptmeier, Fédéric Holm-Hadulla, Katerina Nikalexi, 22 April 2020

In many parts of the world, the economic fortunes of poorer and richer regions have drifted apart over recent years, triggering debate on how to explain and address this trend. This column adds a further angle to this debate: the link between monetary policy and regional inequality. Using data on economic activity at the city and county level in Europe, it documents pronounced heterogeneity in the regional patterns of monetary policy transmission. As a consequence of this heterogeneity, monetary policy tightening aggravates regional inequality and policy easing mitigates it. The COVID-19 crisis may temporarily reinforce regional inequality.

Adrien d'Avernas, Quentin Vandeweyer, Matthieu Darracq Pariès, 20 April 2020

How does the presence of ‘shadow banks’ – non-bank, unregulated financial intermediaries – affect the ability of central banks to tackle a liquidity crisis? To address this question, this column develop an asset pricing model with both bank and non-bank financial institutions. A crucial part of the model is that banks intermediate liquidity between the central bank and non-banks, but this intermediation stops during a financial crisis. Non-banks are then left without a lender of last resort, and central bank liquidity operations with banks are not sufficient to mitigate the crisis. In the stylised model, opening liquidity facilities to non-banks and purchasing illiquid assets are then essential measures to tackle a liquidity crisis.

Rui Esteves, Nathan Sussman, 18 April 2020

After an initial lull, financial markets reacted with a vengeance to the COVID-19 pandemic. Comparisons with 2008 are inevitable, but the ultimate impact on markets is still unclear. This column argues that the spread of the pandemic has little explanatory power over financial stress. Markets reacted as in any international financial crisis by penalising emerging economies (and countries without credible monetary anchors), exposing age-old vulnerabilities. This finding highlights the need for credible, but flexible, sovereign currencies and the need to build up liquidity reserves.

Robert McCauley, Catherine R. Schenk, 12 April 2020

A major source of vulnerability during global financial crises, both in the past and at present, is the severe shortage of US dollar funding around the world. This necessitates extensive central bank cooperation, in the form of central bank swap lines and other innovative solutions, to relieve the strain on dollar liquidity. This column evaluates the close cooperation between the Fed, BIS and other central banks in response to a strained eurodollar market in the 1960s, and compares this to other episodes in the 1990s, 2008 and 2020. The wide system of swaps that existed in the past amounted to a global financial net aimed at managing dollar liquidity and stabilising exchange rates.

Olivier Blanchard, Jean Pisani-Ferry, 10 April 2020

The extraordinary operations that are under way in most countries in response to the COVID-19 shock have raised fears that large-scale monetisation will result in a major inflation episode. This column argues that so far, there is no evidence that central banks have given up, or are preparing to give up, on their price stability mandate. While there are obviously some reasons to worry, central banks are doing the right thing and the authors see no reason to panic.

Yosuke Takeda, Masayuki Keida, 17 April 2020

Communication strategies are increasingly seen as an important tool for central bankers to guide expectations. This column applies statistical natural language processing algorithms to press conferences given by two different governors of the Bank of Japan during a time without any formal changes in institutional arrangements for communication policy at the Bank. Communication strategies are found to differ vastly across the two governors, with one governor focusing on the topic of ‘discretion’ and the other on the topic of ‘policy goals’.

Sony Kapoor, Willem Buiter, 06 April 2020

COVID-19’s economic impact on crumbling GDPs, collapsing tax revenues and ballooning fiscal deficits will be much larger than what has been reported thus far. Any hesitation in throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the health, employment, state aid and financial rescue interventions that are needed will literally kill citizens and destroy the economy. To combat COVID-19, central banks, including the ECB, must cross the Rubicon of monetary financing and immediately transfer the 20%-30% of GDP this will cost into fiscal coffers.

Lukas Hoesch, Barbara Rossi, Tatevik Sekhposyan, 07 March 2020

The information channel of monetary policy theory – whereby economic agents revise their beliefs after an unexpected monetary policy announcement not only because they learn about the current and future path of monetary policy, but also because they learn new information about the economic outlook – can potentially explain the puzzle of output increasing after a contractionary monetary policy shock. This column argues, however, that the information channel has disappeared in the US, perhaps due to the improved communication strategies implemented by the Federal Reserve.

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