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International Finance Discussion Papers

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Abstract: The extraordinary events surrounding the Great Recession have cast a considerable doubt on the traditional sources of macroeconomic instability. In their place, economists have singled out financial and uncertainty shocks as potentially important drivers of economic fluctuations. Empirically distinguishing between these two types of shocks, however, is difficult because increases in economic uncertainty are strongly associated with a widening of credit spreads, an indication of a tightening in financial conditions. This paper uses the penalty function approach within the SVAR framework to examine the interaction between financial conditions and economic uncertainty and to trace out the impact of these two types of shocks on the economy. The results indicate that (1) financial shocks have a significant adverse effect on economic outcomes and that such shocks were an important source of cyclical fluctuations since the mid-1980; (2) uncertainty shocks, especially those implied by uncertainty proxies that do not rely on financial asset prices, are also an important source of macroeconomic disturbances; and (3) uncertainty shocks have an especially negative economic impact in situations where they elicit a concomitant tightening of financial conditions. Evidence suggests that the Great Recession was likely an acute manifestation of the toxic interaction between uncertainty and financial shocks.

Keywords: International Trade, Import Price, Transactional Relationships


Abstract: Costs to switching suppliers can affect prices by discouraging buyer movements from high to low cost sellers. This paper uses confidential U.S. Customs data on U.S. importers and their Chinese exporters to investigate these costs. I find considerable barriers to supply chain adjustments: 45% of arm's-length importers keep their partner, and one-third of switching importers remain in the same city. Guided by these regularities, I propose and structurally estimate a dynamic discrete exporter choice model. Cost estimates are large and heterogeneous across products. These costs matter for trade prices: halving switching costs reduces the U.S.- China Import Price Index by 14.7%.

Keywords: International Trade, Import Price, Transactional Relationships


Abstract: Given the recent empirical evidence on peer effects in CEO compensation, this paper theoretically examines how relative wealth concerns, in which a manager’s satisfaction with his own compensation depends on the compensation of other managers, affect the equilibrium contracting strategy and managerial risk-taking. We find that such externalities can generate pay-for-luck as an efficient compensation vehicle in equilibrium. In expectation of pay-for-luck in other firms, tying managerial pay to luck provides insurance to managers against a compensation shortfall relative to executive peers during market fluctuations. When all firms pay for luck, we show that an effort-inducing mechanism exists: managers have additional incentives to exert effort in utilizing investment opportunities, which helps them keep up with their peers during industry movements. In addition, we show that compensation arrangements involving pay-for-luck that are efficient from the shareholders’ perspective can nonetheless exacerbate aggregate fluctuations in the real economy by incentivizing excessive systemic risk-taking, especially in periods of heightened risk.

Keywords: Relative wealth concerns, Managerial compensation, Pay-for-luck, Excessive risk-taking


 ifdp  2016-1163
May 2016

Macroeconomic Dynamics Near the ZLB: A Tale of Two Countries (PDF)

S. Boragan Aruoba, Pablo Cuba-Borda, and Frank Schorfheide

Abstract: We compute a sunspot equilibrium in an estimated small-scale New Keynesian model with a zero lower bound (ZLB) constraint on nominal interest rates and a full set of stochastic fundamental shocks. In this equilibrium a sunspot shock can move the economy from a regime in which inflation is close to the central bank’s target to a regime in which the central bank misses its target, inflation rates are negative, and interest rates are close to zero with high probability. A nonlinear filter is used to examine whether the U.S. in the aftermath of the Great Recession and Japan in the late 1990s transitioned to a deflation regime. The results are somewhat sensitive to the model specification, but on balance, the answer is affirmative for Japan and negative for the U.S.

Keywords: Deflation, DSGE Models, Japan, Multiple Equilibria, Nonlinear Filtering, Nonlinear Solution Methods, Sunspots, U.S., ZLB


Abstract: This paper investigates the macroeconomic risks associated with undesirably low inflation using a medium-sized New Keynesian model. We consider different causes of persistently low inflation, including a downward shift in long-run inflation expectations, a fall in nominal wage growth, and a favorable supply-side shock. We show that the macroeconomic effects of persistently low inflation depend crucially on its underlying cause, as well as on the extent to which monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound. Finally, we discuss policy options to mitigate these effects.

Keywords: Inflation Expectations, Wages, Productivity, Disinflation, Monetary Policy, Liquidity Trap, DSGE Model.


Abstract: We exploit the cross-state, cross-time variation in bank tangible capital ratios--brought about by bank branch deregulation on a state-by-state basis--to identify the effects of bank capital pressures on employment and firm dynamics during two waves of changes in bank capital regulation. We show that stronger capital pressures temporarily slowed down growth in employment in industries that depend on external finance, retarding growth in the average size of firms rather than in the number of firms. Such effects were particularly strong for smaller firms that may not have had access to national capital and bank loan markets. Our findings indicate that a tightening of capital requirements may have significant real effects, in part because of the lack of substitutes for bank loans.

Keywords: Bank capital ratios; bank capital regulation; loan substitutability; employment; firm dynamics.


Abstract: This paper studies how private information in hedging outcomes affects the design of managerial compensation when hedging instruments serve as a double-edged sword in that they may be used for both corporate hedging and earnings management. On the one hand, financial vehicles can offer customized contracts that are closely tailored to manage specific risk and improve hedging efficiency. On the other hand, involvement in hedging may give rise to manipulation through misstatement of the value estimates. We show that the use of privately-observed hedging may actually require greater pay-for-performance in managerial compensation. The cross-sectional variations in managerial compensation lend support to our model.

Keywords: managerial compensation, corporate hedging


Abstract: This article studies the effect of cash windfalls on the acquisition policy of companies. As identification I use a German tax reform that permitted firms to sell their equity stakes tax-free. Companies that could realize a cash windfall by selling equity stakes see an increase in the probability of acquiring another company by 19 percent. I find that these additional acquisitions destroy firm value. Following the tax reform, affected firms experience a decrease of 1.2 percentage points in acquisition announcement returns. These effects are stronger for larger cash windfalls. My findings are consistent with the free cash flow theory.

Keywords: acquisitions, free cash flow theory, overinvestment


Abstract: How relevant are financial instruments to manage risk in international trade for exporting? Employing a unique dataset of U.S. banks' trade finance claims by country, this paper estimates the effect of shocks to the supply of letters of credit on U.S. exports. We show that a one-standard deviation negative shock to a country's supply of letters of credit reduces U.S. exports to that country by 1.5 percentage points. This effect is stronger for smaller and poorer destinations. It more than doubles during crisis times, suggesting a non-negligible role for finance in explaining the Great Trade Collapse.

Keywords: trade finance, global banks, letter of credit, exports, financial shocks


 ifdp  2016-1157
February 2016

The Rise of Exporting By U.S. Firms (PDF)

William F. Lincoln and Andrew H. McCallum

Abstract: Although a great deal of ink has been spilled over the consequences of globalization, we do not yet fully understand the causes of increased worldwide trade. Using confidential microdata from the U.S. Census, we document widespread entry into countries abroad by U.S. firms from 1987 to 2006. We show that this extensive margin growth is unlikely to have been due to significant declines in entry costs. We instead find evidence of large roles for the development of the internet, trade agreements, and foreign income growth in driving these trends.

Keywords: globalization, barriers to entry, international trade, internet


 ifdp  2016-1156
January 2016

Wholesale Banking and Bank Runs in Macroeconomic Modeling of Financial Crises (PDF)

Mark Gertler, Nobuhiro Kiyotaki, and Andrea Prestipino

Abstract: There has been considerable progress in developing macroeconomic models of banking crises. However, most of this literature focuses on the retail sector where banks obtain deposits from households. In fact, the recent financial crisis that triggered the Great Recession featured a disruption of wholesale funding markets, where banks lend to one another. Accordingly, to understand the financial crisis as well as to draw policy implications, it is essential to capture the role of wholesale banking. The objective of this paper is to characterize a model that can be seen as a natural extension of the existing literature, but in which the analysis is focused on wholesale funding markets. The model accounts for both the buildup and collapse of wholesale banking, and also sketches out the transmission of the crises to the real sector. We also draw out the implications of possible instability in the wholesale banking sector for lender-of-last resort policy as well as for macroprudential policy.

Keywords: financial crises, wholesale banking, interbank markets, rollover risk



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Last update: May 25, 2016