Sulkhan Chavleishvili, Stephan Fahr, Manfred Kremer, Simone Manganelli, Bernd Schwaab, 05 October 2021

When managing financial imbalances, macroprudential policymakers face an intertemporal trade-off between facilitating short-term expected growth and containing medium-term downside risks to the economy. To help assess this trade-off, this column proposes a risk management framework which extends the well-known notion of growth-at-risk to consider the entire predictive real GDP growth distribution. The authors use a novel empirical model fitted to euro area data to study the direct and indirect interactions between financial vulnerabilities, financial stress, and real GDP growth, highlighting a number of key findings.

Joshua Aizenman, Hiro Ito, Gurnain Kaur Pasricha, 08 April 2021

Facing acute strains in the offshore dollar funding markets during Covid-19, the Federal Reserve implemented measures to provide US dollar liquidity. This column examines how the Fed reinforced swap arrangements and established a ‘financial institutions and monetary authorities’ repo facility in response to the crisis. Closer pre-existing ties with the US helped economies access the liquidity arrangements. Further, the announcements of the liquidity expansion facilities led to appreciation of partner currencies against the dollar, as did US dollar auctions by foreign central banks. 

Ralph De Haas, Ralf Martin, Mirabelle Muûls, Helena Schweiger, 19 March 2021

Many countries are striving for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, requiring massive investments over the next decades. But many companies, especially smaller ones, will not be able or willing to invest in cleaner technologies. This column explores how organisational constraints can hold back the green transition of firms in less-developed economies. The findings reveal how financial crises can slow down the decarbonisation of economic production and caution against excessive optimism about the potential green benefits of the current economic slowdown, which – like any recession – has led to temporary reductions in emissions.

Gee Hee Hong, Yukiko Saito, 25 February 2021

Firm exits have been at the centre of policy discussions since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This column explores Japanese firm exit patterns during severe crises as well as during normal times. Using a dataset that distinguishes firm exit types, the authors find that Japanese firms mainly exit voluntarily, while bankruptcy rates are extremely low. Further, Japanese firms respond to economic shocks mainly through adjustments to output instead of exits – as was seen during the Covid-19 crisis. The ‘cleansing effects’ of firm exits vary by exit type, but appear stable during the current crisis.

Dirk Niepelt, 05 February 2021

The role of central bank digital currency is increasingly being discussed, both in terms of its utility in monetary policy as well as the controversy of bank-level profit from money creation. This column presents a method for quantifying the funding cost reduction enjoyed by banks, highlighting that money creation substantially contributes to profits. This raises important questions for policymakers to address as they seek to optimise the deployment of digital currencies within financial institutions.

Arnoud Boot, Elena Carletti, Hans‐Helmut Kotz, Jan Pieter Krahnen, Loriana Pelizzon, Marti Subrahmanyam, 25 January 2021

Covid-19 has placed renewed pressure on the European banking sector as firms and households struggle to meet the costs imposed by the pandemic. This column provides a comparative assessment of the various policy responses to strengthen banks in light of the crisis. While the authors do not make a specific final recommendation, they review the different options suggested within current research and provide a criteria-based framework for policymakers to guide them in their decision making.

Moritz Schularick, Lucas ter Steege, Felix Ward, 12 January 2021

The question of whether monetary policymakers can defuse rising financial stability risks by ‘leaning against the wind’ and increasing interest rates has sparked considerable disagreement among economists. This column contributes to the debate by studying the state-dependent effects of monetary policy on financial stability, based on the ‘near-universe’ of advanced economy financial cycles since the 19th century. It shows that deploying discretionary leaning against the wind policies during credit and asset price booms are more likely to trigger crises than prevent them.

Orkun Saka, Yuemei Ji, Paul De Grauwe, 13 November 2020

Financial crises invariably lead governments to intervene in one way or another, whether to ease the damage to middle-class voters, to respond to the anti-finance sentiment, or to introduce new policies favouring the financial industry. This column traces policy interventions back to policymakers’ incentives. Financial crises lead governments to re-regulate financial markets only in democratic settings. Politicians who are facing a term limit are substantially more likely to re-regulate financial markets after crises in ways compatible with their private incentives. These privately motivated interventions operate via controversial policy domains and favour incumbent banks in countries with more revolving doors between political and financial institutions.

Katharina Bergant, Francesco Grigoli, Niels-Jakob Hansen, Damiano Sandri, 12 August 2020

The vulnerability of emerging markets to global financial shocks leads to recurrent calls for policymakers to deploy additional policy tools besides relying on exchange rate flexibility. This column presents evidence that a more stringent level of macroprudential regulation can considerably dampen the effects of global financial shocks on economic activity in emerging markets. A possible channel through which macroprudential regulation enhances macroeconomic resilience is by allowing for a more countercyclical monetary policy response. The authors do not find evidence that capital flow restrictions provide similar benefits.

Fabiano Schivardi, Guido Romano, 18 July 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has induced a sharp drop in cash flow for many firms, possibly pushing solvent but illiquid firms into bankruptcy. This column presents a simple method to determine the number of firms that could become illiquid, and when. The authors apply this method to the population of Italian businesses and find that at the peak, around 200,000 companies (employing 3.3 million workers) could become illiquid due to a total liquidity shortfall of €72 billion euros. It is essential that policymakers shelter businesses by acting quickly, especially if there is a ‘second peak’ after the summer.

Simeon Djankov, Dorina Georgieva, Hibret Maemir, 03 July 2020

Countries reform when their neighbours have reformed too, especially in the aftermath of economic crises. This column examines business regulatory reforms during 2004–2019. Previous crisis episodes have generated improvements in the law and administration of registering property, trading across borders, protecting investors and resolving bankruptcy. The current period of post-COVID-19 recovery is propitious for regulatory reform.

Olivier Darmouni, Oliver Giesecke, Alexander Rodnyansky, 20 May 2020

The share of firms’ borrowing from bond markets has been rising globally. This column argues that euro area companies with more bond debt are disproportionately affected by surprise monetary shocks, compared to firms with mostly bank debt. This finding stands in contrast to the predictions of a standard bank lending channel and points toward frictions in bond financing. This provides lessons for the conduct of monetary policy in times of hardship such as COVID-19, when the corporate sector suffers from liquidity shortages.

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.

M. Ayhan Kose, Peter Nagle, Franziska Ohnsorge, Naotaka Sugawara, 16 March 2020

The global economy has experienced four waves of rapid debt accumulation in emerging and developing economies over the past 50 years. This column examines these waves of debt and puts the fourth (current) wave in historical context. The current wave of debt, which started in 2010, stands out for its exceptional size, speed, and breadth. While the previous three waves all ended with widespread financial crises, policymakers have a range of options to reduce the likelihood of the current debt wave ending in crisis.

Felipe Benguria, Alan M. Taylor, 03 March 2020

A perennial and fundamental macroeconomic question is whether financial crises are negative demand or supply shocks. This column discusses how the response of international trade flows and prices to financial crises can shed light on the debate. Evidence based on a new dataset of two centuries of financial crises and trade suggests financial crises are clearly negative shocks to demand.

Marzio Bassanin, Ester Faia, Valeria Patella, 30 August 2019

Macroeconomic models with credit frictions do a good job of explaining debt falls during financial crises, but fail to account for pre-crisis debt increases and level pro-cyclicality. This column introduces a model in which investors’ beliefs about future collateral values are non-linear. Greater ambiguity optimism during booms and greater aversion during recessions closely model the empirical shifts seen before and during financial crises, highlighting the joint role of financial frictions and beliefs distortions for market developments.

Jan Hannes Lang, Peter Welz, 11 March 2019

Financial crises are often preceded by credit excesses, but how do we know when credit is excessive? This column shows that deviations of household credit from levels that are justified by economic fundamentals exhibit long cycles of 15 to 25 years with large amplitudes of around 20%. Household credit excesses build up many years ahead of financial crises and only gradually unwind thereafter. Most importantly, higher levels of household credit imbalances are associated with larger declines in real GDP once a financial crisis hits. The findings suggest that household credit cycles should be carefully monitored by macroprudential policymakers to ensure financial stability.

Sanjiv Das, Kris Mitchener, Angela Vossmeyer, 11 March 2019

The Global Crisis brought attention to how connections among financial institutions may make systems more prone to crises. Turning to a major financial crisis from the past, this column uses data from the Great Depression to study risk in the commercial banking network leading up to the crisis and how the network structure influenced the outcomes. It demonstrates that when the distribution of risk is more concentrated at the top of the system, as it was in 1929, fragility and the propensity for risk to spread increases.

Peter Koudijs, Laura Salisbury, Gurpal Sran, 06 October 2018

In order to protect the financial system from excessive risk-taking, many argue that bank managers need to have more personal liability. However, whether the liability of bank managers has a significant effect on risk-taking is an open question. This column studies a unique historical episode in which similar bankers, operating in similar institutional and economic environments, faced different degrees of personal liability, depending on the timing of their marriages, and finds that limited liability induced bankers to take more risks.

Tim Jackson, Laurence Kotlikoff, 30 August 2018

Financial crises have historically been triggered by news of financial malfeasance. Some economists advocate greater opacity for bankers to ensure investors keep the faith. This column models bankers as including a share of malfeasants who steal or lose investors’ money. Within this framework, deposit insurance makes matters worse and private monitoring fails due to free riding. The optimal policy is identified as full financial disclosure, which weeds out crooked bankers. 

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