IFDP 2000-695
Predictable Uncertainty in Economic Forecasting


This paper provides an introduction to predictable forecast uncertainty in empirical economic modelling. The sources of both predictable and unpredictable forecast uncertainty are categorized. Key features of predictable forecast uncertainty are illustrated by several analytical models, including static and dynamic models, and single-equation and multiple-equation models. Empirical models of the U.S. trade account, U.K. inflation, and U.K. real national income help clarify the issues involved.

Full paper (1411 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Econometrics, economics, forecasting, models, uncertainty

IFDP 2000-694
Fiscal Federalism and European Integration: Implications for Fiscal and Monetary Policies

Edward M. Gramlich and Paul R. Wood


This paper examines European economic integration in light of standard thinking about fiscal federalism. We first describe the main features of European integration, analyzing how institutions in the European Union fit the prescriptions of a federal system. We find that in some areas the European Union has already developed arrangements that fit standard views of fiscal federalism, in other areas there is gradual movement toward prescribed arrangements, and in still other areas the European Union’s unique historical path may suggest some interesting new departures in the federalism literature. We try to extract some lessons from this analysis: some recommendations for Europe based on the orthodox principles of fiscal federalism, and some modifications of these orthodox principles based on the European experience.

Keywords: European Union, tax harmonization

IFDP 2000-693
On the Effect of the Internet on International Trade

Caroline Freund and Diana Weinhold


The Internet stimulates trade. Using a gravity equation of trade among 56 countries, we find no evidence of an effect of the Internet on total trade flows in 1995 and only weak evidence of an effect in 1996. However, we find an increasing and significant impact from 1997 to 1999. Specifically, our results imply that a 10 percent increase in the relative number of web hosts in one country would have led to about 1 percent greater trade in 1998 and 1999. Surprisingly, we find that the effect of the Internet on trade has been stronger for poor countries than for rich countries, and that there is little evidence that the Internet has reduced the impact of distance on trade. The evidence is consistent with a model in which the Internet creates a global exchange for goods, thereby reducing market-specific sunk costs of exporting.

Keywords: Sunk costs, world wide web, gravity equation, digital divide

IFDP 2000-692
Current Account Adjustment in Industrialized Countries

Caroline Freund


This paper examines the dynamics of current account adjustment among industrialized countries. We identify twenty-five episodes in which a large sustained improvement in the current account occurred between 1980 and 1997. We find that a typical current account reversal begins when the current account deficit is about 5 percent of GDP, that it is associated with slowing income growth and a 10-20 percent real exchange rate depreciation. Real export growth, declining investment, and an eventual leveling off in both the net international investment position and the budget deficit-GDP ratio are also likely to be part of the adjustment. These results suggest that current account reversals in industrialized countries are largely a function of the business cycle.

Keywords: Current account deficit, trade deficit, exchange rate adjustment, currency crises

IFDP 2000-691
Information Costs and Home Bias: An Analysis of U.S. Holdings of Foreign Equities

Alan G. Ahearne, William L. Griever, and Francis E. Warnock


We test extant hypotheses of the home bias in equity holdings using high quality cross-border holdings data and quantitative measures of barriers to international investment. The effects of direct barriers to international investment, when statistically significant, are not economically meaningful. More important are information asymmetries that owe to the poor quality and low credibility of financial information in many countries. While a direct measure of information costs is not available, some foreign firms have reduced these costs by publicly listing their securities in the United States, where investor protection regulations elicit standardized, credible financial information. A proxy for the reduction in information asymmetries—the portion of a country's market that has a public U.S. listing—is a major determinant of a country’s weight in U.S. investors' portfolios. Foreign countries whose firms do not alleviate information costs by opting into the U.S. regulatory environment are more severely underweighted in U.S. equity portfolios.

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Information asymmetries, investor protection, accounting standards, portfolio choice

IFDP 2000-690
News and Noise in G-7 GDP Announcements

Jon Faust, John H. Rogers, and Jonathan H. Wright


Revisions to GDP announcements are known to be quite large in all G-7 countries: many revisions in quarterly GDP growth are over a full percentage point at an annualized rate. In this paper, we examine the predictability of these data revisions. Previous work suggests that U.S. GDP revisions are largely unpredictable, as would be the case if the revisions reflect news not available at the time that the preliminary number is produced. We find that the degree of predictability varies throughout the G-7. For the U.S., the revisions are very slightly predictable, but for Italy, Japan and the UK, about half the variability of subsequent revisions can be accounted for by information available at the time of the preliminary announcement. For these countries, it appears that revisions reflect, to a significant degree, the removal of noise from the preliminary numbers, rather than the arrival of news.

Keywords: Vintage data, preliminary data, final data, revision, GDP

IFDP 2000-689
Size, Charter Value and Risk in Banking: An International Perspective

Gianni De Nicoló


This paper documents the relationships between bank size and measures of charter value and insolvency risk in a sample of publicly traded banks in 21 industrialized countries for the 1988-1998 period. With the exception of small U.S. bank holding companies, charter values decrease in size and insolvency risk increases in size for most banks in the countries considered. Size-related diversification benefits and/or economies of scale in intermediation are either absent or, if they exist, are more than offset by banks' higher risk taking. Furthermore, banks operating in countries with more developed financial markets exhibit lower insolvency risk, and those operating in countries with either stricter regulation on banks' permissible activities or larger share of bank assets under state ownership exhibit higher insolvency risk. Overall, our evidence is at variance with some broad implications of modern financial intermediation theory, and suggests that absent future structural changes in banking markets of developed countries, bank consolidation is likely to result in an average increase in banks' insolvency risk.

Keywords: Financial intermediation, bank consolidation

IFDP 2000-688
The Geography of Capital Flows: What We Can Learn from Benchmark Surveys of Foreign Equity Holdings

Francis E. Warnock and Molly Mason


To provide insight into the accuracy of U.S. data on international equity transactions, we compare estimates of U.S. holdings of equities in over 40 countries with actual holdings given by comprehensive U.S. benchmark surveys. If the rate of return used to revalue U.S. holdings in a given country is accurate, accurate holdings estimates imply accurate transactions data. For some countries, such as Canada and much of Latin America, the holdings estimates are quite accurate. For the majority of countries, however, there is a great disparity between our estimates and actual amounts, likely because U.S. data on international equity transactions record the country of the transactor, not the country of the issuer. Our estimates are far too high for financial centers--because many U.S. transactions that go through these countries involve securities issued in other countries--and far too low in most other countries, particularly in Europe and Asia. To illustrate the potential pitfalls of using estimated country-specific holdings data, we briefly present two cases in which the use of actual data leads to different conclusions. One case examines the determinants of U.S. equity holdings across countries; the other concerns the turnover rate of foreign equity portfolios.

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Portfolio flows, international investment position, net foreign assets.

IFDP 2000-687
Output and Inflation in the Long Run

Neil R. Ericsson, John S. Irons, and Ralph W. Tryon


Cross-country regressions explaining output growth often obtain a negative effect from inflation. However, that result is not robust, due to the selection of countries in sample, temporal aggregation, and omission of consequential variables in levels. This paper demonstrates some implications of these mis-specifications, both analytically and empirically. In particular, for most G-7 countries, annual time series of inflation and the log-level of output are cointegrated, thus rejecting the existence of a long-run relation between output growth and inflation. Typically, output and inflation are positively related in these cointegrating relationships: a price markup model helps interpret this surprising feature.

Keywords: Cointegration, cross-country regression, economic growth, inflation, long run, output.

IFDP 2000-686
Firms and Their Distressed Banks: Lessons from the Norwegian Banking Crises (1988 – 1991)

Steven Ongena, David C. Smith, and Dag Michalsen


We use the near-collapse of the Norwegian banking system during the period 1988-91 to measure the impact of bank distress announcements on the stock prices of firms maintaining a relationship with a distressed bank. We find that although banks experienced large and permanent downward revisions in their equity value during the event period, firms maintaining relationships with these banks faced only small and temporary changes, on average, in stock price. In other words, the aggregate impact of bank distress on listed firms in Norway appears small. Our results stand in contrast to studies that document large welfare declines to similar borrowers after crises hit Japan and other East Asian countries. We hypothesize that because banks in Norway are precluded from maintaining significant ownership control over loan customers, Norwegian firms were freer to choose financing from sources other than their distressed banks. We provide cross-sectional evidence to support this hypothesis.

Keywords: Bank relationship, bank distress, Norwegian banking crisis

IFDP 2000-685
Log-Periodogram Estimation of Long Memory Volatility Dependencies with Conditionally Heavy Tailed Returns

Jonathan Wright


Many recent papers have used semiparametric methods, especially the log-periodogram regression, to detect and estimate long memory in the volatility of asset returns. In these papers, the volatility is proxied by measures such as squared, log-squared and absolute returns. While the evidence for the existence of long memory is strong using any of these measures, the actual long memory parameter estimates can be sensitive to which measure is used. In Monte-Carlo simulations, I find that the choice of volatility measure makes little difference to the log-periodogram regression estimator if the data is Gaussian conditional on the volatility process. But, if the data is conditionally leptokurtic, the log-periodogram regression estimator using squared returns has a large downward bias, which is avoided by using other volatility measures. In U.S. stock return data, I find that squared returns give much lower estimates of the long memory parameter than the alternative volatility measures, which is consistent with the simulation results. I conclude that researchers should avoid using the squared returns in the semiparametric estimation of long memory volatility dependencies.

Keywords: Semiparametric Methods, Fractional Integration, Stochastic Volatility, Stock Returns, Heavy Tails

IFDP 2000-684
The Use and Abuse of "Real-Time" Data in Economic Forecasting

Evan Koenig, Sheila Dolmas, and Jeremy Piger


We distinguish between three different ways of using real-time data to estimate forecasting equations and argue that the most frequently used approach should generally be avoided. The point is illustrated with a model that uses monthly observations of industrial production, employment, and retail sales to predict real GDP growth. When the model is estimated using our preferred method, its out-of-sample forecasting performance is clearly superior to that obtained using conventional estimation, and compares favorably with that of the Blue-Chip consensus.

IFDP 2000-683
Markov Regime-Switching and Unit Root Tests

Charles R. Nelson, Jeremy Piger, and Eric Zivot


We investigate the power and size performance of unit root tests when the true data generating process undergoes Markov regime-switching. All tests, including those robust to a single break in trend growth rate, have very low power against a process with a Markov-switching trend growth rate as in Lam (1990). However, for the case of business cycle non-linearities, unit root tests are very powerful against models used as alternatives to Lam (1990) that specify regime-switching in the transitory component of output. Under the null hypothesis, the received literature documents size distortions in Dickey-Fuller type tests caused by a single break in trend growth rate or variance. We find these results do not generalize to most parameterizations of Markov-switching in trend or variance. However, Markov-switching in variance can lead to over-rejection in tests robust to a single break in the level of trend.

Keywords: Stochastic trends, deterministic trends, structural change, heteroskedasticity

IFDP 2000-682
Exact Confidence Intervals for Impulse Responses in a Gaussian Vector Autoregression

Jonathan Wright


Many techniques have been proposed for forming confidence intervals for the impulse responses in a vector autoregression. However, numerous Monte-Carlo simulations have shown that all of these methods often have coverage well below the nominal level. This paper proposes a new approach to constructing confidence intervals for impulse responses in a vector autoregression, making the additional assumption of Gaussianity. These confidence intervals are conservative in all sample sizes; by construction they have coverage that must be greater than or equal to the nominal level.

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Confidence Intervals, Vector Autoregressions, Impulse Responses, Bootstrap

IFDP 2000-681
Common Stochastic Trends, Common Cycles, and Asymmetry in Economic Fluctuations

Chang-Jin Kim and Jeremy Piger


This paper investigates the nature of business cycle asymmetry using a dynamic factor model of output, investment, and consumption. We first identify a common stochastic trend and a common transitory component by embedding the permanent income hypothesis within a simple growth model. We then investigate two types of asymmetry commonly identified in U.S. business cycle dynamics: (1) Infrequent negative permanent shocks, modeled as shifts in the growth rate of the common stochastic trend and (2) infrequent negative transitory shocks, modeled as "plucking" deviations from the common stochastic trend. Tests of marginal significance suggest both types of asymmetry were present in post-war recessions, although the shifts in trend are less severe than the received literature suggests.

Keywords: Asymmetry, business cycles, common shocks, Markov-switching, productivity slowdown

IFDP 2000-680
Spaghetti Regionalism

Caroline Freund


This paper examines the welfare implications of multiple free trade agreements in a model of imperfect competition. We show that free trade is the unique Nash equilibrium under the simple rule that any two countries can form a bilateral free trade agreement. Specifically, a country is always better off forming a bilateral trade agreement with every other country, irrespective of previous agreements. This suggests that each new preferential free trade agreement may be a step towards multilateral free trade.

Keywords: Trade, imperfect competition, bilateral agreement

IFDP 2000-679
The Impact of Bank Consolidation on Commercial Borrower Welfare

Jason Karceski, Steven Ongena and David C. Smith


We estimate the impact of bank merger announcements on borrowers’ stock prices for publicly traded Norwegian firms. In addition, we analyze how bank mergers influence borrower relationship termination behavior and relate the propensity to terminate to borrower abnormal returns. We obtain four main results. First, on average borrowers lose about 1 percent in equity value when their bank is announced as a merger target. Small borrowers of target banks are especially hurt in mergers between two large banks, where they lose an average of about 3 percent. Small target borrowers are not harmed, and appear to even gain, from mergers between small banks. Second, bank mergers lead to higher relationship exit rates for three years after a bank merger, and small bank mergers lead to larger increases in exit rates than large mergers. Third, target borrower abnormal returns are positively related to pre-merger exit rates, indicating that firms that find it easier to switch banks are less harmed when their bank merges. Fourth, we find weak evidence that target borrowers with large merger-induced increases in exit rates are more negatively affected by bank merger announcements, suggesting that target borrowers can be forced out of relationships and suffer welfare losses as a result of bank mergers.

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Bank relationships, bank mergers, market power

IFDP 2000-678
Modeling the IMF's Statistical Discrepancy in the Global Current Account

Jaime Marquez and Lisa Workman


This paper offers a framework for judging when the discrepancy embodied in current-account forecasts is large. The first step in implementing this framework involves developing an econometric model explaining the components of the aggregate discrepancy, estimating the associated parameters, and generating the aggregate discrepancy's conditional expectation. The second step is to compare this model-based forecast with the discrepancy embodied in countries' current-account forecasts. If the gap in discrepancies is below a critical value, then the discrepancy embodied in the countries' current-account forecasts is not large. Otherwise, the discrepancy is large and calls for a careful re-examination of the associated current-account forecasts.

Keywords: FIML, forecast uncertainty, global discrepancies, IMF

IFDP 2000-677
The Declining Volatility of U.S. Employment: Was Arthur Burns Right?

M. V. Cacdac Warnock and Francis E. Warnock


This paper attempts to add to the understanding of changes in the magnitude of business cycle fluctuations by examining disaggregated employment data. Specifically, we use a stochastic variance approach on monthly employment data for the 1946-1996 period to highlight two stylized facts of aggregate U.S. employment - greater volatility in recessions than expansions and reduced volatility since the early 1980s. These patterns are not, however, apparent in each sector of the economy. Asymmetric volatility is only evident in manufacturing and trade; other sectors, such as construction or the narrowly defined services sector, are just as likely to exhibit high volatility in expansions. A general reduction in volatility is evident only in goods-producing sectors; some industries in the broad service-producing sector have become more volatile over time. Our results highlight the close relationship between aggregate and manufacturing volatility, and suggest that to understand why the U.S. business cycle has become more muted, researchers should strive to understand the forces at work that are reducing volatility in the manufacturing sector.

Keywords: Employment, volatility, variability, business cycle

IFDP 2000-676
The Expectations Trap Hypothesis

Lawrence J. Christiano and Christopher Gust


We explore a hypothesis about the take-off in inflation that occurred in the early 1970s. According to the expectations trap hypothesis, the Fed was pushed into producing the high inflation out of a fear of violating the public's inflation expectations. We compare this hypothesis with the Phillips curve hypothesis, according to which the Fed produced the high inflation as an unfortunate by-product of a conscious decision to jump-start a weak economy. Which hypothesis is more plausible has important implications for what needs to be done to prevent other inflation flare-ups.

Keywords: 1970s inflation, Arthur Burns, monetary policy, Taylor Rule

IFDP 2000-675
Do Indicators of Financial Crises Work? An Evaluation of an Early Warning System

Hali J. Edison


The object of this paper is to develop an operational early warning system (EWS) that can detect financial crises. To achieve this goal the paper analyzes and extends the early warning system developed by Kaminsky, Lizondo, and Reinhart (1998) and Kaminsky and Reinhart (1999) that is based on the "signal" approach. This system monitors several indicators that tend to exhibit an unusual behavior in the periods preceding a crisis. When an indicator exceeds (or falls below) a threshold, then it is said to issue a "signal" that a currency crisis may occur within a given period. The model does a fairly good job of anticipating some of the crises in 1997/1998, but several weaknesses to the approach are identified. The paper also evaluates how this system can be applied to an individual country. On balance, the results in this paper are mixed, but the results suggest that an early warning system should be thought of as a useful diagnostic tool.

Full paper (3866 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Currency Crises, vulnerability indicators, Asian crisis, balance of payments crisis, crisis prediction

IFDP 2000-674
Detecting Lack of Identification in GMM

Jonathan H. Wright


In the standard linear instrumental variables regression model, it must be assumed that the instruments are correlated with the endogenous variables in order to ensure the consistency and asymptotic normality of the usual instrumental variables estimator. Indeed, if the instruments are only slightly correlated with the endogenous variables, the conventional Gaussian asymptotic theory may still provide a very poor approximation to the finite sample distribution of the usual instrumental variables estimator. Because of the crucial role of this identification condition, it is common to test for instrument relevance by a first-stage F-test. Identification issues also arise in the generalized method of moments model, of which the linear instrumental variables model is a special case. But I know of no means, in the existing literature, of testing for identification in this model. This paper proposes a test of the null of underidentification in the generalized method of moments model.

Keywords: Generalized method of movements, identification, asset pricing, instrumental variables

IFDP 2000-673
Time-to-Build, Time-to-Plan, Habit-Persistence, and the Liquidity Effect


The general inability of sticky-price monetary business cycle models to generate liquidity effects has been noted in the recent literature by authors such as Christiano (1991), Christiano and Eichenbaum (1992a, 1995), King and Watson (1996), and Bernanke and Mihov (1998b). This paper develops a sticky-price monetary business cycle model that is capable of generating an empirically plausible liquidity effect. Time-to-build and time-to-plan in investment together with habit-persistence in consumption are the features of the model that allow it to produce this result.

Keywords: Sticky-price monetary business cycle models, multiple capital stocks

IFDP 2000-672
The Equivalence of Wage and Price Staggering in Monetary Business Cycle Models


Chari, Kehoe, and McGratten's (1998) finding that a standard monetary business cycle model with staggered price setting is unable to generate sufficiently persistent real effects of monetary shocks has engendered a growing literature aimed at developing alternative mechanisms for producing greater persistence. The most popular approach at present in this literature appears to be one in which staggered wage contracts are used as either an alternative or a complement to a staggered price mechanism. This is informed by recent research by Andersen (1998) and Huang and Liu (1998) which finds that the staggered wage model, despite its superficial similarity to the staggered price setup, incorporates a very different microstructure that implies substantially more real persistence. This paper argues that these authors' findings rely heavily on the assumption that identical inputs are used by all firms, and demonstrates that, by assuming firm-specific factor inputs the staggered price model is as capable as the staggered wage model of generating persistent real responses to monetary shocks.

Keywords: Taylor-contracting, output persistence, sticky prices, sticky wages, firm-specific factor inputs

IFDP 2000-671
The Effect of Monetary Policy on Residential and Structures Investment Under Differential Project Planning and Completion Times


This paper analyzes an empirical puzzle regarding the effect of monetary policy on fixed investment, specifically, why residential investment exhibits a strong and rapid response to changes in monetary policy while structures investment manifests a substantially weaker response. The paper proposes an explanation for these contrasting responses that is based on the differential planning and completion times of these two categories of investment as well as inflexibilities in changing the planned pattern of investment spending once the project has begun. Empirical support for the explanation is established by contrasting the responses of U.S. residential and structures building project starts and work undertaken to a monetary policy shock. The paper then shows that a calibrated sticky-price monetary business cycle model with multistage investment projects is capable of generating responses to monetary policy that are broadly consistent with those observed empirically.

Keywords: Transmission of monetary policy, time-to-build, time-to-plan

IFDP 2000-670
Finance and Macroeconomic Volatility

Cevdet Denizer, Murat F. Iyigun, and Ann L. Owen


Countries with more developed financial sectors experience less fluctuation in the growth of real per capita output, consumption and investment. However, the manner in which the financial sector develops matters. The relative importance of banks in the financial system is important in explaining consumption and investment volatility, and the proportion of credit provided to the private sector explains the volatility of consumption and output. The main results are generated using fixed-effects estimation with panel data from 70 countries covering the years 1956 through 1998.

Keywords: Financial development, economic fluctuations, business cycles

IFDP 2000-669
The Impact of Monetary Policy on Exchange Rates During Financial Crises

David Gould and Steven Kamin


This paper addresses the impact of monetary policy on exchange rates during financial crises. Some observers have argued that a tightening of monetary policy is necessary to stabilize the exchange rate, restore confidence, and lay the groundwork for an eventual recovery of economic activity. Others have argued that by raising interest rates (which reduces the ability of borrowers to repay loans and thereby weakens the banking system), tightening may further reduce investor confidence and lead to further weakening--not strengthening--of domestic currencies.

This debate, which became highly charged during the Asian financial crisis, remains unresolved. A key reason is that, because of the endogeneity of interest rates with respect to exchange rates and investor expectations, it is difficult to use statistical analysis to identify the impact of monetary policy on the exchange rate. In our research, we use measures of international credit spreads and of domestic stock prices as proxies for investor concerns about creditworthiness and country risk in order to better identify the impact of monetary policies on the exchange rate. Using weekly data from Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Mexico, we find that credit spreads and stock prices exert significant impacts on exchange rates during financial crises, but interest rates still are not estimated to have significant effects. We conclude that while monetary policy probably does exert an important influence over exchange rates, this most likely takes place slowly, as central banks attempt to establish credibility, and over longer periods of time than can be captured in our analysis.

Keywords: Interest rates, currency values

IFDP 2000-668
How Consistent Are Credit Ratings? A Geographic and Sectoral Analysis of Default Risk

John Ammer and Frank Packer


We examine differences in default rates by sector and obligor domicile. We find evidence that credit ratings have been imperfectly calibrated across issuer sectors in the past. Controlling for year of issue and rating, default rates appear to be higher for U.S. financial firms than for U.S. industrial firms. Sectoral differences in recovery rates do not offset the higher default rates. By contrast, we do not find significant differences in default rates between U.S. and foreign firms.

Keywords: Bonds, rating agencies, capital requirements, Basel Committee on Banking Supervision

IFDP 2000-667
Exchange Rate Dynamics and the Welfare Effects of Monetary Policy in a Two-Country Model with Home-Product Bias

Francis E. Warnock


International spillovers and exchange rate dynamics are examined in a two-country dynamic optimizing model that allows for home-product bias in consumption patterns: at given relative prices the ratio of home goods consumed to foreign goods consumed is higher in the home country. The setup nests Obstfeld and Rogoff (1995), who assume identical tastes. With home bias, results are different in three ways. When preferences are biased, the wealth transfers associated with current account imbalances induce movements in the real exchange rate and produce large short-run and small long-run deviations from consumption-based purchasing power parity. With home bias, interest rates, both real and nominal, can differ across countries; relatedly, home bias is a necessary but not sufficient condition for Dornbusch (1976) type exchange rate overshooting. Finally, in this model the welfare effects of expansionary monetary policy depend not only on world demand but also on the expenditure-switching effect of an exchange rate depreciation; monetary policy is 'beggar-thy-neighbor' if individuals have strong preferences for domestic products, but can be 'beggar-thyself' if, instead, imported goods are preferred.

Keywords: Dynamic optimizing model, beggar-thy-neighbor, purchasing power parity, exchange rate overshooting

IFDP 2000-666
Deviations from Purchasing Power Parity: Causes and Welfare Costs

Charles Engel and John H. Rogers


We explore deviations from short-run purchasing power parity across European cities, attempting to move beyond a "first-generation" of papers that document very large border effects. We document two very distinct types of border effects embedded in relative prices. The first is a "real barriers effect," caused by various barriers to market integration. The second is a sticky-consumer-price cum volatile exchange-rate effect. Both are shown to be important empirically, the second type especially so. We argue that the two effects are very different from each other. For the first type of effect, it is clear that border effects imply deadweight welfare losses. We argue that while the second type of border effect could be eliminated with fixed exchange rates, welfare is not necessarily increased.

Keywords: Exchange rates, borders, integration

IFDP 2000-665
Monetary Policy Independence in the ERM: Was There Any?

Hali J. Edison and Ronald MacDonald


Recently proposals for introducing greater exchange rate fixity into the behavior of key exchange rates have become fashionable. One proposal, for example, suggests that a target zone arrangement for the dollar, mark and yen would represent a desirable reform of the international monetary system. The question we seek to address in this paper is how much monetary independence is likely to be conferred on a country participating in such an arrangement. Recent research for the Classical gold standard has suggested that even with a rigidly fixed exchange rate system there is still some scope for monetary independence. Here we examine the extent of monetary independence conferred by a target zone using data from the recent ERM experience. Amongst our findings is the result that countries which had a credible commitment to the target zone had more independence in the operation of their monetary policy than countries with a lesser commitment. It turns out that the monetary independence for a credible participant in a target zone arrangement is longer than that conferred by participation in a regime of rigidly fixed exchange rates, such as the Classical gold standard.

Full paper (3264 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Interest Rate Linkages, Monetary Independence

IFDP 2000-664
Lurking in the Shadows: The informal sector and government policy

Jane Ihrig and Karine Moe


The informal sector, which produces legal goods but does not comply with government regulations, is a functioning part of all economies, with a proportion of the labor force ranging from 17 percent in OECD countries to 60 percent in developing countries. Using a dynamic model that includes an informal sector, this paper illustrates the natural dynamics of the sector, describes how tax policy affects its size, and quantifies the costs of having it. Simulations yield movements in informal employment and output consistent with empirical observations. We find that the U.S. informal sector accounts for about 5 percent of U.S.labor hours and produces about 3 percent of U.S. GDP in steady state. Strategies for reducing the size of the sector are discussed. We find, however, that the distortion from this sector in terms of lifetime loss in an economy's capital stock, is minimal--supporting those who want to keep the informal sector as a functioning part of society.

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Enforcement, taxation, informal sector, economic development

IFDP 2000-663
Constructive Data Mining: Modeling Consumers' Expenditure in Venezuela

Julia Campos and Neil R. Ericsson


Hoover and Perez (1999) advocate a constructive approach to data mining. The current paper identifies four pejorative senses of data mining and shows how Hoover and Perez's approach counters each. To assess the benefits of constructive data mining, the current paper applies a data-mining algorithm similar to Hoover and Perez's to a dataset for Venezuelan consumers' expenditure. The selected model is economically sensible and statistically satisfactory; and it illustrates how data can be highly informative, even with relatively few observations. Limitations to algorithmically based data mining provide opportunities for the researcher to contribute value added in the empirical analysis.

Full paper (1529 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Dynamics, Encompassing, General-to-specific modeling, Hoover and Perez (1999), Model design, PcGets.

IFDP 2000-662
Capital Controls During Financial Crises: The Case of Malaysia and Thailand

Hali J. Edison and Carmen M. Reinhart


This study examines the impact capital controls had in Malaysia (1998-1999) and Thailand (1997). We aim to assess the extent to which the capital controls were effective in delivering the outcomes that motivated their imposition. We conclude that in Thailand the controls did not deliver much of what was intended--although, one does not observe the counterfactual. By contrast, in the case of Malaysia the controls did align closely with the priors of what controls are intended to achieve: greater interest rate and exchange rate stability and more policy autonomy.

Full paper (1039 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Capital Controls, Capital Flows, Financial Crises, Asian Currency Crisis, Cross-Border Volatility

IFDP 2000-661
The Effect of Markups on the Exchange Rate Exposure of Stock Returns

George Allayannis and Jane Ihrig


This paper examines how to properly specify and test for factors that affect the exchange-rate exposure of stock returns. We develop a theoretical model, which explicitly identifies three channels of exposure. An industry's exposure increases (1) by greater competitiveness in the market where its final output is sold, (2) the interaction of greater compeitiveness in its export market and a larger share of exports in production and, (3) the interaction of less competitiveness in its imported input market and the smaller the share of imports in production. Using a sample of 82 U.S. manufacturing industries at the 4-digit SIC level, classified in 18 2-digit industry groups, between 1979 and 1995, we estimate exchange-rate exposure as suggested by our model. We find that 4 out of 18 industry groups are significantly exposed to exchange-rate movements through at least one channel of exposure. On average, a 1 percent appreciation of the dollar decreases the return of the average industry by 0.13 percent. Consistent with our model's predictions, as an industry's markups fall (rise), its exchange-rate exposure increases (decreases).

Original version (PDF)

Keywords: Multinationals, exchange-rate movement, trade shares

IFDP 2000-660
Monetary Disturbances Matter for Business Fluctuations in the G-7

Fabio Canova and Gianni De Nicoló


This paper examines the importance of monetary disturbances for cyclical fluctuations in real activity and inflation. It employs a novel identification approach which uses the sign of the cross-correlation function in response to shocks to assign a structural interpretation to orthogonal innovations. We find that monetary shocks significantly drive output and inflation cycles in all G-7 countries; that they are the dominant source of fluctuations in three of the seven countries; that they contain an important policy component, and that their impact is time varying.

Keywords: Structural Shocks, Business Cycles, Monetary Disturbances, Dynamic Correlations

IFDP 2000-659
Human Capital, Unemployment, and Relative Wages in a Global Economy

Donald Davis and Trevor Reeve


This paper develops a simple framework for examining human capital accumulation, unemployment, and relative wages in a global economy. It builds on the models of Davis (1998a, b) of trade between a flexible-wage America and a rigid-wage Europe. To this it adds a model of human capital accumulation based on Findlay and Kierzkowski (1983). A variety of comparative statics are examined, including changes in educational capital and population, entry of new countries to the trading world, technical change, and a productivity slowdown. We derive the consequences for the skilled-to unskilled wage gap, unemployment, and skill composition.

Full paper (1273 KB Postscript)

Keywords: International trade, human capital, unemployment, wages

IFDP 2000-658
Evaluating Correlation Breakdowns during Periods of Market Volatility

Mico Loretan and William B. English


Financial market observers have noted that during periods of high market volatility, correlations between asset prices can differ substantially from those seen in quieter markets. For example, correlations among yield spreads were substantially higher during the fall of 1998 than in earlier or later periods. Such differences in correlations have been attributed either to structural breaks in the underlying distribution of returns or to "contagion" across markets that occurs only during periods of market turbulence. However, we argue that the differences may reflect nothing more than time-varying sampling volatility. As noted by Boyer, Gibson and Loretan (1999), increases in the volatility of returns are generally accompanied by an increase in sampling correlations even when the true correlations are constant. We show that this result is not just of theoretical interest: When we consider quarterly measures of volatility and correlation for three pairs of asset returns, we find that the theoretical relationship can explain much of the movement in correlations over time. We then examine the implications of this link between measures of volatility and correlation for risk management, bank supervision, and monetary policy making.

Keywords: Risk management, Conditional Correlation

IFDP 2000-657
'Here, Dollars, Dollars...' -- Estimating Currency Demand and Worldwide Currency Substitution


In measuring the percentage of foreign-held U.S., German, and Swiss currencies for the period of the 1960s through the 1990s, I obtain estimates much different from those of others. Using currency demand equations implied by cointegrating vectors for Canada, the Netherlands, and Austria, I estimate that in 1996 only 30% of U.S. currency was held outside the United States, and as much as 69% of German currency was held outside Germany. The U.S. estimate falls slowly over the 1960s, reaching a low of 5% in the first half of the 1970s, then rises through the early 1980s and again during the 1990s. Given that foreign holdings of the U.S., German, and Swiss currencies constitute the bulk of international currency substitution in the world, I find that, adjusted for inflation, currency substitution roughly tripled from 1986 to 1996.

Keywords: International Use of the Dollar, Underground Economy, Money Demand

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Last Update: February 05, 2021