Stefano Micossi, 08 October 2019

One important conclusion of Robert Shiller’s influential 2015 book, Irrational Exuberance, is that bubbles are random exogenous phenomena that cannot be foreseen and do not depend on macroeconomic policies. This column introduces a new CEPR Policy Insight which throws light on the root causes of speculative fevers in asset markets and related financial booms and busts. It shows empirical evidence indicating that Shiller may have overlooked the role that lax monetary policy played in triggering financial bubbles in the 2000s by offering investors a perverse promise of ever-increasing asset prices.

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.

Olivier Dessaint, Thierry Foucault, Laurent Frésard, Adrien Matray, 05 March 2019

Stock prices respond to fundamental shocks (i.e. news) and non-fundamental shocks (noise). Using US data from 1996 to 2011, this column argues that stock prices are a ‘faulty informant’ for corporate managers because managers have limited ability to separate information from noise when using prices as signals about their prospects. The ensuing losses of capital investment and shareholders’ wealth are large and even affect firms that are not facing severe financing constraints or agency problems.

Linda Goldberg, 26 February 2019

Linda Goldberg of the Federal Reserve of New York talks about her work with Signe Krogstrup on a combined exchange market pressure index, which they use to look at the importance of the global factor in international flows.

Maik Schmeling, Christian Wagner, 22 February 2019

According to Ben Bernanke, “monetary policy is 98% talk and 2% action”.Using data on policy rate announcements and press conferences by the ECB between 1999 and 2017, this column shows that central bank tone affects asset prices, even after controlling for policy actions and economic fundamentals. The results are consistent with the idea that communication tone is a monetary policy tool that allows central banks to affect the risk appetite of market participants and the risk premia they require.

Bezirgen Veliyev, 01 November 2018

Bezirgen Veliyev of Aarhus University talks to Ben Chu of The Independent about new ways to measure volatilty of asset prices. The interview was recorded at the Royal Economic Society 2018 Annual Conference.

Anna Cieslak, Andreas Schrimpf, 22 October 2018

Central bank communication affects asset prices and therefore the broader economy, but the channels through which this happens are not clear. The column proposes a novel approach to distinguishing the types of news. In more than half of communication events, the non-monetary component dominates the market reaction to central bank communication.

Isaiah Hull, Conny Olovsson, Karl Walentin, Andreas Westermark, 23 August 2018

Large movements in house prices can have broad and substantial effects on the macroeconomy. This column uses property-level data to identify the key drivers of house price volatility and decompose this into national, regional, local, and idiosyncratic components. There is substantial cross-sectional variation in house price risk, with higher firm concentration, employment volatility, and manufacturing share of output and employment associated with greater risk. 

Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick, Ulrike Steins, 09 August 2018

Recent work examining the evolution of the wealth distribution has tended to not paid much attention to the role of asset prices. This column uses a new US dataset to explore the role that asset price movements have in the US wealth distribution. Asset prices matter because portfolio composition differs systematically along the wealth distribution. The data further show that no progress has been made in reducing wealth inequalities between white and black households over the past 70 years. 

Wouter den Haan, Martin Ellison, Ethan Ilzetzki, Michael McMahon, Ricardo Reis, 16 October 2017

The outgoing German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, has recently expressed concerns about the risks posed to the world economy by high levels of debt. This column presents the latest Centre for Macroeconomics and CEPR survey of leading economists, in which a strong majority of respondents agree that an excess of public and private debt together with inflated asset prices mean that the world economy faces heightened risks. A similarly strong majority of the experts also agree that the loose monetary policy of major central banks is responsible for the recent increase in global leverage and asset values.

Leo de Haan, Jan Willem van den End, 29 September 2017

High asset prices can foreshadow tail risks in inflation. Based on data from 11 advanced economies since 1985, this column shows that high asset prices usually signal future high inflation episodes, but can occasionally signal low inflation or deflation instead. The transmission time of asset prices to inflation can be quite long. For central banks, this implies that the signalling content of asset prices for inflation is uncertain, both in timing and direction.

Gaston Gelos, Hiroko Oura, 25 July 2015

The growth of the asset management industry has raised concerns about its potential impacts on financial stability. This column assesses the systemic risk created by fund managers’ incentive problems and a first-mover advantage for end investors. Fund flows and fund ownership affect asset prices, and fund managers’ behaviour can amplify risks. This lends support to the expansion and strengthening of industry oversight, both at the individual fund and market levels.

Jerry Tsai, Jessica Wachter, 11 June 2015

The high equity premium and high volatility in equity markets have long been a puzzle. This column discusses how rare, economy-wide disasters can account for this conundrum, as well as for patterns in prices, consumption, and interest rates during the Great Recession.

Toby Nangle, 09 May 2015

The recent remarkably low interest rates have puzzled economists. The standard explanation rests on the extraordinary manoeuvres of the world’s largest central banks. This column argues, however, that it is due to economic developments, specifically globalisation and the collapse in labour power in the west.

Christiane Baumeister, Lutz Kilian, 19 November 2014

Futures prices are a potentially valuable source of information about market expectations of asset prices. This column discusses a general approach to recovering this expectation when there is no agreement on the nature of the time-varying risk premium contained in futures prices. The authors illustrate this approach by tackling the long-standing problem of how to recover the market expectation of the price of crude oil.

Charles Goodhart, Philipp Erfurth, 03 November 2014

There has been a long-term downward trend in labour’s share of national income, depressing both demand and inflation, and thus prompting ever more expansionary monetary policies. This column argues that, while understandable in a short-term business cycle context, this has exacerbated longer-term trends, increasing inequality and financial distortions. Perhaps the most fundamental problem has been over-reliance on debt finance. The authors propose policies to raise the share of equity finance in housing markets; such reforms could be extended to other sectors of the economy.

Giovanni Cespa, Xavier Vives, 22 April 2014

Since capital flows to and from hedge funds are strongly related to past performance, an exogenous liquidity shock can trigger a vicious cycle of outflows and declining performance. Therefore, ‘noise’ trades – usually thought of as erratic – may in fact be persistent. Based on recent research, this column argues that there can be multiple equilibria with different levels of liquidity and informational efficiency, and that the high-information equilibrium can under certain conditions be unstable. The model provides a lens through which to interpret the ‘Quant Meltdown’ of August 2007 and the recent financial crisis.

Joshua Aizenman, Mahir Binici, Michael Hutchison, 04 April 2014

In 2013, policymakers began discussing when and how to ‘taper’ the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy. This column presents evidence on the effect of Fed officials’ public statements on emerging-market financial conditions. Statements by Chairman Bernanke had a large effect on asset prices, whereas the market largely ignored statements by Fed Presidents. Emerging markets with stronger fundamentals experienced larger stock-market declines, larger increases in credit default swap spreads, and larger currency depreciations than countries with weaker fundamentals.

Eduardo Olaberría, 07 December 2013

Policymakers have long been concerned that large capital inflows are associated with asset-price booms. This column presents recent research showing that the composition of capital inflows also matters. The association between capital inflows and asset-price booms is about twice as strong for debt-related than for equity-related investment. Policymakers should therefore pay attention to the composition of capital inflows, since debt-related inflows may still undermine financial stability even if they do not result in an overall current-account deficit.

Indraneel Chakraborty, Itay Goldstein, Andrew MacKinlay, 25 November 2013

Higher asset prices increase the value of firms’ collateral, strengthen banks’ balance sheets, and increase households’ wealth. These considerations perhaps motivated the Federal Reserve’s intervention to support the housing market. However, higher housing prices may also lead banks to reallocate their portfolios from commercial and industrial loans to real-estate loans. This column presents the first evidence on this crowding-out effect. When housing prices increase, banks on average reduce commercial lending and increase interest rates, leading related firms to cut back on investment.

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