Martin Eichenbaum, Miguel Godinho de Matos, Francisco Lima, Sérgio Rebelo, Mathias Trabandt, 14 November 2020

A central question in economics is how people respond to risk – specifically, how they respond to low-probability events. This column uses the COVID-19 pandemic as a natural experiment to answer this question. Studying the consumption behaviour of Portuguese public sector workers, whose income was likely unaffected by the crisis, they find that older workers reduced their consumption of high-contact goods by much more than younger workers.  As the likelihood for dying from COVID-19 is increasing in age, these results suggest that workers’ responses are commensurate with the risk they face.

Fernando Arteaga, Desiree Desierto, Mark Koyama, 25 October 2020

The Spanish Crown had a monopoly on the trade route between Manila and Mexico for more than 250 years. The ships that sailed this route were “the richest ships in all the oceans”, but much of the wealth sank at sea and remain undiscovered. This column uses a newly constructed dataset of all of the ships that travelled the route to show how monopoly rents that allowed widespread bribe-taking would have led to overloading and late ship departure, thereby increasing the probability of shipwreck. Not only were late and overloaded ships more likely to experience shipwrecks or to return to port, but the effect is stronger for galleons carrying more valuable, higher-rent cargo. This sheds new light on the costs of rent-seeking in European colonial empires.

Dirk Niepelt, Martín Gonzalez-Eiras, 05 June 2020

The COVID-19 shock has changed the discipline of economics in that it has brought an interest in epidemiology into the foreground of economic analysis. This column explores how traditional models of infectious diseases can be combined with an additional economic layer on top. This hybrid approach can help draw accurate predictions for the long run impact of the crisis, without substantive loss in terms of ‘realism’ or flexibility.

Ricardo Caballero, Alp Simsek, 30 April 2020

The Covid-19 shock has caused large turmoil on financial markets. This column argues that non-financial supply shocks such as the current one can endogenously lead to financial shocks and severe contractions in asset valuations and aggregate demand, which substantially amplify a recession. Conventional monetary policy can mitigate the downward pressure as long as the interest rate is unconstrained. If it is, large-scale asset purchases by government facilities are needed to prevent a downward spiral.

Jeffrey Chwieroth, Andrew Walter, 15 November 2019

When there's a financial crisis, policymakers and politicians increasingly kowtow to the demands of an influential group: the global middle class. Jeffrey Chwieroth and Andrew Walter tell Tim Phillips how their Great Expectations are destabilising the world economy.

Diego Caballero Orduna, Bernd Schwaab, 30 September 2019

A bank’s balance sheet lists its assets, liabilities and shareholder equity, each of which is subject to risk. This column uses the examples of the announcement of the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions programme and the first very-long-term refinancing operation allotment to show that, in exceptional circumstances, a central bank can remove illiquidity-related credit risk from parts of its balance sheet by extending the scale of its operations.

Jon Danielsson, Robert Macrae, 12 August 2019

The type of risk we most care about is long-term, what happens over years or decades, but we tend to manage that risk over short periods. This column argues that the dissonance of risk is that we measure and manage what we don't care about and ignore what we do.

Stan Olijslagers, Annelie Petersen, Nander de Vette, Sweder Van Wijnbergen, 17 June 2019

The decade since the Global Crisis has seen central banks employ a range of monetary policy tools. This column draws two lessons from the unconventional monetary policy measures employed during the European sovereign debt crisis. First, central banks should communicate clearly – and with sufficient detail – in times of heightened market stress to lower tail risk perceptions in financial markets. Second, policies aimed at changing the relative supply within different asset classes have an impact on perceived crash risk, while measures aimed at easing financing costs of commercial banks do not.

Jeffrey Chwieroth, Andrew Walter, 03 June 2019

The accumulation of mass financialised wealth has transformed the politics of banking crises. This column shows that the rising wealth of the middle classes has generated great expectations that their wealth will be protected by the government. As a result, democracies perform more financial sector bailouts and are also more financially fragile and politically unstable. 

Esa Jokivuolle, George G. Pennacch, 31 May 2019

Much of financial regulation has been focusing on adequately pricing risk taking by lenders. This column argues that a multinational deposit insurance system such as the proposed European Deposit Insurance Scheme has important advantages, but can also create conflicts among its member nations due to potential deposit insurance subsidies that differ across nations. The authors suggest alternative design features that could minimise these subsidies and make a multinational deposit insurance system more mutually agreeable.

Mathias Hoffmann, Egor Maslov, Bent Sørensen, Iryna Stewen, 10 January 2019

Bank-to-bank lending in the euro area has increased, direct cross-border lending has not. The column shows that dependence on domestic banks reduces risk-sharing in a crisis, reducing GDP growth in affected country-sectors. Benefits from banking integration are only robust to global shocks if banking integration takes the form of cross-border lending to firms and households.

João Granja, Christian Leuz, Raghuram Rajan, 04 December 2018

Risk taking was pervasive during the Global Crisis even in the most unlikely areas, such as stretching to lend at a distance. Using US data, this column examines the degree to which competition amongst lenders interacts with the cyclicality in lending standards using a simple and policy-relevant measure, the average physical distance of borrowers from banks’ branches. It finds that distances widen considerably when credit conditions are lax and shorten considerably when credit conditions become tighter. A sharp departure from the trend in distance between banks and borrowers is indicative of increased risk taking. 

Carlos Vegh, Guillermo Vuletin, Daniel Riera-Crichton, Juan Pablo Medina, Diego Friedheim, Luis Morano, Lucila Venturi Grosso, 14 November 2018

Emerging markets are especially vulnerable to a myriad of domestic and external risks. This column develops a framework to classify these risks based on their predictability and, hence, their insurability. As the probability of relatively large events increases, it becomes more difficult to insure against such risks. In the extreme case in which countries face truly unpredictable and impactful events (or ‘black swans’), they must rely on building broad-based resilience or resorting to ex-post aid. 

Morten Ravn, 08 November 2018

Morten Ravn of University College London discusses ADEMU work on how differences across households and players in the economy matter for macroeconomic policy.

Christian Bayer, Chi Hyun Kim, Alexander Kriwoluzky, 06 September 2018

Investors fret that Italy may exit the euro. One reason to worry is redenomination risk, driven by the prospect of a country allowing a new currency to depreciate against the euro. This column compares two types of Italian bond yield curves to estimate such risk, and finds that the yield premium due to it peaked at 7% during the sovereign debt crisis. Redenomination risk also affects interest rates in strong economies, which implies a redistribution between savers and borrowers throughout the euro area.

Hélène Rey, 13 August 2018

Hélène Rey, Professor of Economics at London Business School and CEPR Fellow, explains how credit booms develop, what their mechanics are and how the financial intermediaries involved take on different amounts of risk.

David Miles, 23 March 2018

The housing market faces major challenges in both the short and long run in terms of affordability, price variability, ownership structures, financing, and their impacts upon wider macroeconomic stability. This column summarises a conference on lessons for the future of housing, jointly organised by the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis at Imperial College Business School and CEPR.

Stefan Avdjiev, Leonardo Gambacorta, Linda Goldberg, Stefano Schiaffi, 20 March 2018

The post-crisis period has seen a considerable shift in drivers of international bank lending and international bond issuance, the two main components of global liquidity. This column describes how the sensitivity of cross-border lending to global risk conditions declined substantially post-crisis, becoming similar to that of international bond issuance. This fall largely reflects a change in the composition of international lenders.

Nathan Converse, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Tomás Williams, 20 March 2018

The share of fund assets held in exchange-traded funds has risen from 3.5% in 2005 to 14% in 2017, and to 20% for funds in emerging market assets. This column uses reported investor flows to argue that this is related to increased exposure of aggregate portfolio equity capital inflows to global risk. On this evidence, exchange-traded fund flows amplify the global financial cycle.

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