Abstract: The Great Financial Crisis coincided with a sizable reduction in global external imbalances, defined as the absolute value of the sum of individual country current account surpluses and deficits relative to global GDP. Although current account balances should not respond to a downturn that is uniform across countries, one that hits countries with current account deficits harder than those with surpluses might result in a decline in the global balance. This paper quantifies the cyclical portion of the current account balance for 35 countries using estimates of the severity of the cycle in each country relative to that of its trading partners in conjunction with three estimates of the sensitivity of the current account balance to changes in the output gap. Two of the estimates are derived from equations linking trade to income and the third is derived from the relationship between changes in current account balances and changes in output gap differentials. The main result is that the bulk of the reduction in the global current account imbalance since 2006 appears to have been structural. Cyclical forces are estimated to account for between 10 and 30 percent of the decline. In the aggregate, the cyclical effect is estimated to be currently holding down the global current account balance by about 1/2 percentage point. However, the size of the cyclical effect is more substantial for some countries. Both surplus and deficit countries have contributed to the decline in the absolute value of the global current account imbalance, but the contribution of the deficit countries is about twice as large as that of the surplus countries. Changes in oil prices have had largely offsetting effects on the global current account balance, but changes in real exchange rates in recent years have contributed to the reduction.
Keywords: current account, cycles
How Public Information Affects Asymmetrically Informed Lenders: Evidence from a Credit Registry Reform (PDF)
Abstract: We exploit exogenous variation in the amount of public information available to banks about a firm to empirically evaluate the importance of adverse selection in the credit market. A 2006 reform introduced by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reduced the amount of public information available to Pakistani banks about a firm's creditworthiness. Prior to 2006, the SBP published credit information not only about the firm in question but also (aggregate) credit information about the firm's group (where the group was defined as the set of all firms that shared one or more director with the firm in question). After the reform, the SBP stopped providing the aggregate group-level information. We propose a model with differentially informed banks and adverse selection, which generates predictions on how this reform is expected to affect a bank's willingness to lend. The model predicts that adverse selection leads less informed banks to reduce lending compared to more informed banks. We construct a measure for the amount of information each lender has about a firm's group using the set of firm-bank lending pairs prior to the reform. We empirically show those banks with private information about a firm lent relatively more to that firm than other, less-informed banks following the reform. Remarkably, this reduction in lending by less informed banks is true even for banks that had a pre-existing relationship with the firm, suggesting that the strength of prior relationships does not eliminate the problem of imperfect information.
Keywords: Information, Credit registries, Financial Intermediation
Abstract:We construct a new linked data set with over one thousand offshoring events by matching Trade Adjustment Assistance program petition data to confidential data on U.S. firm operations. We exploit these data to assess how offshoring affects domestic firm-level aggregate employment, output, wages and productivity. Consistent with heterogenous firm models where offshoring involves a fixed cost, we find that the average offshoring firm is larger and more productive than the average non-offshorer. After initiating offshoring, firms experience large declines in employment (46.2 per cent), output (38.5 per cent) and capital (28.8 per cent) relative to their industry peers. We find no significant change in average wages or in total factor productivity measures for offshoring firms. These results are consistent across two separate difference-in-differences (DID) approaches, an instrumental variables approach, and a number of robustness checks. Thus, we find offshoring to be a strong substitute for domestic activity in this large sample of offshoring events.
Keywords: Outsourcing, manufacturing, employment, trade, productivity, firm performance
Abstract: The expansion in financial sector "safe" assets, largely in the form of structured products from the U.S. and the Caribbean, in the lead-up to the global financial crisis has by now been fairly well documented. Using a unique dataset derived from security-level data on U.S. portfolio holdings of foreign securities, we show that since the crisis, it is mostly the foreign financial sector that appears to have met U.S. demand for safe and liquid investment assets by expanding its supply of debt securities. We also find a strong negative correlation between the foreign share of the U.S. financial bond portfolio and measures of U.S. safe assets availability: providing evidence on the importance of foreign-issued financial sector debt as a substitute when U.S. issued "safe" assets are scarce. Furthermore, although U.S. investors continue to tap foreign financial markets for "safe" assets, we show that the type of foreign financial debt that fills this portfolio niche post-crisis is quite different than pre-crisis. Post-crisis, we find that U.S. investors have replaced offshore-issued structured securities with high-grade U.S. dollar-denominated financial debt issued from a small group of OECD countries (most notably Australia and Canada). Lastly, these developments have led to a decline in home bias in the U.S. financial bond portfolio that we are able to document for the first time.
Keywords: safe assets, international portfolio choice, financial sector debt, home bias
Abstract:We investigate the informational content of options-implied probability density functions (PDFs) for the future price of oil. Using a semiparametric variant of the methodology in Breeden and Litzenberger (1978), we investigate the fit and smoothness of distributions derived from alternative PDF estimation methods, and develop a set of robust summary statistics. Using PDFs estimated around episodes of high geopolitical tensions, oil supply disruptions, and macroeconomic data releases, we explore the extent to which oil price movements are expected or unexpected, and whether agents believe these movements to be persistent or temporary.
Keywords: Options-implied PDFs, futures, options, oil.
Abstract: This paper proposes a macroeconomic model with financial intermediaries (banks), in which banks face occasionally binding leverage constraints and may endogenously affect the strength of their balance sheets by issuing new equity. The model can account for occasional financial crises as a result of the nonlinearity induced by the constraint. Banks' precautionary equity issuance makes financial crises infrequent events occurring along with "regular" business cycle fluctuations. We show that an episode of capital infl ows and rapid credit expansion, triggered by low country interest rates, leads banks to endogenously decrease the rate of equity issuance, contributing to an increase in the likelihood of a crisis. Macroprudential policies directed at strengthening banks' balance sheets, such as capital requirements, are shown to lower the probability of financial crises and to enhance welfare.
Keywords: Financial intermediation; sudden stops; leverage constraints; occasionally binding constraints.
Abstract: Estimated dynamic models of business cycles in emerging markets deliver counterfactual predictions for the country risk premium. In particular, the country interest rate predicted by these models is acyclical or procyclical, whereas it is countercyclical in the data. This paper proposes and estimates a small open economy model of the emerging-market business cycle in which a time-varying country risk premium emerges endogenously. In the proposed model, a firm's borrowing rate adjusts countercyclically as the default threshold of the firm depends on the state of the macroeconomy. I econometrically estimate the proposed model and find that it can account for the volatility and the countercyclicality of country risk premium as well as for other key emerging market business cycle moments. Time varying uncertainty in firm specific productivity contributes to delivering a countercyclical default rate and explains 70 percent of the variances in the trade balance and in the country risk premium. Finally, I find the predicted contribution of nonstationary productivity shocks in explaining output variations falls between the extremely high and extremely low values reported in the literature.
Keywords: Financial frictions; country risk premium; international business cycles; Bayesian estimation.
Abstract: We study the impact of regional and sectoral productivity changes on the U.S. economy. To that end, we consider an environment that captures the effects of interregional and intersectoral trade in propagating disaggregated productivity changes at the level of a sector in a given U.S. state to the rest of the economy. The quantitative model we develop features pairwise interregional trade across all 50 U.S. states, 26 traded and non-traded industries, labor as a mobile factor, and structures and land as an immobile factor. We allow for sectoral linkages in the form of an intermediate input structure that matches the U.S. input-output matrix. Using data on trade flows by industry between states, as well as other regional and industry data, we obtain the aggregate, regional and sectoral elasticities of measured TFP, GDP, and employment to regional and sectoral productivity changes. We find that such elasticities can vary significantly depending on the sectors and regions affected and are importantly determined by the spatial structure of the US economy. We highlight the role of these elasticities by tracing out the effects of productivity gains in California in the Computers and Electronics industry between 2002 and 2007 on all other U.S. sectors and regions.
Keywords: Interregional trade, intersectoral linkages, total factor productivity, gross domestic product, factor mobility
Abstract: We study the role of labor market mismatch in the adjustment to a trade liberalization that results in the offshoring of high-tech production. Our model features two-sided heterogeneity in the labor market: high- and low-skilled workers are matched in a frictional labor market with high- and low-tech firms. Mismatch employment occurs when high-skilled workers choose to accept a less desirable job in the low-tech industry. The main result is that--perhaps counter-intuitively--this type of job displacement is actually beneficial for the labor market in the country doing the offshoring. Mismatch allows the economy to reallocate domestic high-skilled labor across both high- and low-tech industries. In doing so, mismatch dampens both the increase in the aggregate unemployment rate and the decline in aggregate wages that come as a consequence of shifting domestic production abroad.
Keywords: Labor market frictions; globalization; trade liberalization; heterogeneous workers; search and matching
Bank Interventions and Options-based Systemic Risk: Evidence from the Global and Euro-area Crisis (PDF)
Abstract: Using a novel dataset on central bank interventions to financial institutions, we examine the impact of capital injection announcements on systemic risk for the banking sector in the U.S. and the euro area between 2008 and 2013. We propose a new measure of options-based systemic risk called downside correlation risk premium (DCRP), which quantifies the compensation investors demand for being exposed to the risk of large correlated drops in bank stock prices. DCRP is calculated using options that provide a hedge against large drops in the price of a bank index and its individual components. We find that, irrespective of their characteristics, intervention announcements significantly reduce DCRP in the U.S. while for the euro area, interventions were largely unsuccessful at reducing DCRP.
Keywords: Systemic Risk, Downside Correlation Risk Premium, Bank Interventions, Variance Risk Premium, European Banking Union
Abstract: Using Bayesian methods, I estimate a DSGE model where a recession is initiated by losses suffered by banks and exacerbated by their inability to extend credit to the real sector. The event triggering the recession has the workings of a redistribution shock: a small sector of the economy--borrowers who use their home as collateral--defaults on their loans. When banks hold little equity in excess of regulatory requirements, the losses require them to react immediately, either by recapitalizing or by deleveraging. By deleveraging, banks transform the initial shock into a credit crunch, and, to the extent that some firms depend on bank credit, amplify and propagate the shock to the real economy. I find that redistribution and other financial shocks that affect leveraged sectors accounts for two-thirds of output collapse during the Great Recession.
Keywords: Real GDP, nonlinearity, asymmetry, time variation, conditional response, prediction
Employment and Firm Heterogeneity, Capital Allocation, and Countercyclical Labor Market Policies (PDF)
Abstract: Many countries have large employment shares in micro and small firms that have limited access to formal financing and therefore rely on input credit. Such countries are mainly emerging and developing economies, whose business cycle dynamics are increasingly important for the global economy in light of the dramatic rise in international linkages and spillovers that have occurred over the last several decades. Emerging and developing economies implemented a host of countercyclical labor market policies amid the global financial crisis, but data limitations on high-frequency labor and job flows prevent a detailed empirical assessment of the effectiveness of these policies. To address this problem, we develop a business cycle model with frictional labor markets that is novel in light of its consistency with the employment and firm structure of emerging and developing economies. We use the model to assess the aggregate impact of key countercyclical labor market policies. We find that hiring subsidies and job intermediation services for large firms are particularly effective in aiding recoveries. Policies targeting smaller firms yield limited aggregate benefits and may even be detrimental to the recovery process. The labor market structure shapes sectoral allocation and explains the economy's differential response to policy.
Keywords: Business cycles, search frictions, fiscal policy, self employment, small firms, input credit
Abstract: Although oil price shocks have long been viewed as one of the leading candidates for explaining U.S. recessions, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which oil price shocks explain recessions. We provide a formal analysis of this question with special attention to the possible role of net oil price increases in amplifying the transmission of oil price shocks. We quantify the conditional recessionary effect of oil price shocks in the net oil price increase model for all episodes of net oil price increases since the mid-1970s. Compared to the linear model, the cumulative effect of oil price shocks over the course of the next two years is much larger in the net oil price increase model. For example, oil price shocks explain a 3 percent cumulative reduction in U.S. real GDP in the late 1970s and early 1980s and a 5 percent cumulative reduction during the financial crisis. An obvious concern is that some of these estimates are an artifact of net oil price increases being correlated with other variables that explain recessions. We show that the explanatory power of oil price shocks largely persists even after augmenting the nonlinear model with a measure of credit supply conditions, of the monetary policy stance and of consumer confidence. There is evidence, however, that the conditional fit of the net oil price increase model is worse on average than the fit of the corresponding linear model, suggesting much smaller cumulative effects of oil price shocks for these episodes of at most 1 percent.
Keywords: Real GDP, nonlinearity, asymmetry, time variation, conditional response, prediction
Abstract: The role of capital flows in the buildup to the global financial crisis and the potential vulnerabilities posed by capital flows to emerging market economies highlight the importance of reliable and timely measures of cross-border investment activity to better monitor developments as they unfold. We present new monthly estimates of U.S. cross-border securities investment, combining information from detailed annual Treasury International Capital (TIC) surveys with new information from the TIC form SLT. We also show how changes in the new monthly data can be decomposed into flows, estimated valuation changes, and a residual "gap". These decompositions can provide a richer and timelier view of developments in both foreign portfolio investment in the U.S. and U.S. portfolio investment abroad than available from transactions data or survey data alone. Data on cross-border holdings through December 2013, by country, are available for download; we also provide advice on how to construct estimates going forward. These data can be combined with the existing Bertaut-Tryon monthly estimates of securities holdings (now updated through 2011) to generate consistent monthly time series of positions.
Keywords: Capital flows, portfolio investment, treasury international capital, U.S. treasuries, emerging market economies
Related Material: Data (1.95 MB ZIP) - Estimated position data available for download, as described in paper. Estimates last updated 2017.
Abstract: Do more active hedge fund managers generate higher returns than their less active peers? We attempt to answer this question. Using Kalman Filter techniques, we estimate the risk exposure dynamics of a large sample of live and dead equity long-short hedge funds. These estimates are then used to develop a measure of activeness for each hedge fund. Our results show that there exists a nonlinear relationship between activeness and performance. Using raw returns as a measure of performance, it is found that more active funds outperform the less active ones. However, when risk adjusted returns are used to measure performance, we find the opposite results; that is, activeness is inversely related to returns. Still, we find that a few very active managers outperform the moderately active funds and generate higher returns. We conclude that the most active managers use their skills to manage the riskiness of their portfolios and are, therefore, able to provide higher risk adjusted returns. Finally, we find that compared to the least active managers, the most active managers are less homogeneous and, therefore, due diligence is far more important when selecting an active manager.
Keywords: Hedge funds, Fama-French, active management, dynamic trading
Abstract: This paper studies the domestic and international effects of national bank market integration in a two-country, dynamic, stochastic, general equilibrium model with endogenous producer entry. Integration of banking across localities reduces the degree of local monopoly power of financial intermediaries. The economy that implements this form of deregulation experiences increased producer entry, real exchange rate appreciation, and a current account deficit. The foreign economy experiences a long-run increase in GDP and consumption. Less monopoly power in financial intermediation results in less volatile business creation, reduced markup countercyclicality, and weaker substitution effects in labor supply in response to productivity shocks. Bank market integration thus contributes to moderation of firm-level and aggregate output volatility. In turn, trade and financial ties allow also the foreign economy to enjoy lower GDP volatility in most scenarios we consider. These results are consistent with features of U.S. and international fluctuations after the United States began its transition to interstate banking in the late 1970s.
Keywords: Business cycle volatility, current account, deregulation, interstate banking, producer entry, real exchange rateFull paper (screen reader version)
Abstract: We examine the extent to which differences in international tax rates may account for the small correlations of per capita consumption fluctuations across countries. Theory implies a close relationship between relative consumption growth, and consumption and capital income tax rate differentials. We find strong empirical evidence for this relationship. Idiosyncratic output fluctuations account for the majority of cross country consumption growth variability, but trends in tax differentials are informative about the dynamic evolution of international risk sharing. In particular, adjusting for capital taxes reveals an intuitive positive relationship between financial connectedness and risk sharing that is absent in baseline measures.
Keywords: International risk sharing, business cycle accounting, taxes
Abstract: We investigate the effects of U.S. unconventional monetary policies on sovereign yields, foreign exchange rates, and stock prices in emerging market economies (EMEs), and we analyze how these effects depend on country-specifc characteristics. We find that, although EME asset prices, mainly those of sovereign bonds, responded strongly to unconventional monetary policy announcements, these responses were not outsized with respect to a model that takes into account each country's time-varying vulnerability to U.S. interest rates affected by monetary policy shocks.
Keywords: Unconventional monetary policy, emerging markets, large-scale asset purchase program, quantitative easing, Federal Reserve
Abstract: This paper examines the response of U.S. manufacturers to changes in competitiveness brought about by movements in the price of natural gas. I estimate the response of various measures of manufacturing activity using panel regression methods across roughly 80 industries that allow each industry's response to vary with its energy intensity. These estimates suggest that the fall in the price of natural gas since 2006 is associated with a 2 to 3 percent increase in activity for the entire manufacturing sector, with much larger effects of 30 percent or more for the most energy intensive industries.
Keywords: Manufacturing, natural gas
Abstract: We argue that the vast bulk of movements in aggregate real economic activity during the Great Recession were due to financial frictions. We reach this conclusion by looking through the lens of an estimated New Keynesian model in which firms face moderate degrees of price rigidities, no nominal rigidities in the wages and a binding zero lower bound constraint on the nominal interest rate. Our model does a good job of accounting for the joint behavior of labor and goods markets, as well as inflation, during the Great Recession. According to the model the observed fall in total factor productivity and the rise in the cost of working capital played critical roles in accounting for the small size of the drop in inflation that occurred during the Great Recession.
Keywords: Inflation, unemployment, labor force, zero lower bound
Abstract: We develop a theory that focuses on the general equilibrium and long-run macroeconomic consequences of trends in job utility. Given secular increases in job utility, work hours per capita can remain approximately constant over time even if the income effect of higher wages on labor supply exceeds the substitution effect. In addition, secular improvements in job utility can be substantial relative to welfare gains from ordinary technological progress. These two implications are connected by an equation flowing from optimal hours choices: improvements in job utility that have a significant effect on labor supply tend to have large welfare effects.
Keywords: Labor supply, work hours, drudgery, income effect, substitution effect, job utilityFull paper (screen reader version)
Abstract: While the balance sheet structure of U.S. banks influences how they respond to liquidity risks, the mechanisms for the effects on and consequences for lending vary widely across banks. We demonstrate fundamental differences across banks without foreign affiliates versus those with foreign affiliates. Among the nonglobal banks (those without a foreign affiliate), cross-sectional differences in response to liquidity risk depend on the banks' shares of core deposit funding. By contrast, differences across global banks (those with foreign affiliates) are associated with ex ante liquidity management strategies as reflected in internal borrowing across the global organization. This intra-firm borrowing by banks serves as a shock absorber and affects lending patterns to domestic and foreign customers. The use of official-sector emergency liquidity facilities by global and nonglobal banks in response to market liquidity risks tends to reduce the importance of ex ante differences in balance sheets as drivers of cross-sectional differences in lending.
Keywords: International banking, global banking, liquidity, transmission, internal capital marketFull paper (screen reader version)
Abstract: Sovereign debt crises have been recurrent events over the past two centuries. In recent years, the timing of sovereign crises has coincided or has directly followed banking crises. The link between sovereigns and banks tightened as the contingent liability that the banking sector represents for the sovereign grew, as financial "safety nets" became more common. This chapter analyzes the transmission channels between sovereigns and banks, with a focus on the effect of sovereign distress on bank solvency and financing. It then highlights the notable cost to the real economy of the close connection between sovereigns and banks. Breaking the "feedback loop" between these two sectors should be an important policy priority.
Keywords: Sovereign default, banking crises, government guarantees, financial safety net, bank regulationFull paper (screen reader version)
Abstract: Portfolio rebalancing is a key driver of the Uncovered Equity Parity (UEP) condition. According to UEP, when foreign equity holdings outperform domestic holdings, domestic investors are exposed to higher exchange rate exposure and hence repatriate some of the foreign equity to decrease their exchange rate risk. By doing so, foreign currency is sold, leading to foreign currency depreciation. We examine the relationship between U.S. investors' portfolio reallocations and returns and find some evidence consistent with UEP: Portfolio shifts are related to past returns in the underlying equity markets. But we argue that a motive other than reducing currency risk exposure is likely behind this rebalancing. In particular, U.S. investors may be exploiting mean reversion in underlying equity markets, rebalancing away from equity markets that recently performed well and moving into equity markets market just prior to relatively strong performance. Such behavior suggests tactical reallocations to increase returns rather than reduce risk.
Keywords: Exchange rate determination, international returns, equity portfoliosFull paper (screen reader version)
Abstract: U.S. imports and exports respond little to exchange rate changes in the short run. Pricing behavior has long been thought central to explaining this response: if local prices do not respond to exchange rates, neither will trade flows. Sticky prices and strategic complementarities in price setting generate sluggish responses, and they are necessary to match newly available international micro price data. Using trade flow data, I test models capable of replicating these trade price data. Even with significant pricing frictions, the models still imply a trade response to exchange rates stronger than found in the data. Moreover, using significant cross-sector heterogeneity, comparative statics implied by the model find little to no support in the data. These results suggest that while complementarity in price setting and sticky prices can explain pricing patterns, some other short-run friction is needed to match actual trade flows. Furthermore, the muted response found for sectors with high long-run substitutability implies that simply assuming low elasticities may be inappropriate. Finally, there is evidence of an asymmetric response to exchange rate changes.
Keywords: Trade prices, pass-through, trade elasticities
Abstract: This paper examines the effects of unconventional monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan on bond yields, stock prices and exchange rates. We use common methodologies for the four central banks, with daily and intradaily asset price data. We emphasize the use of intradaily data to identify the causal effect of monetary policy surprises. We find that these policies are effective in easing financial conditions when policy rates are stuck at the zero lower bound, apparently largely by reducing term premia.
Keywords: Large scale asset purchases, quantitative easing, zero bound, term premiumFull paper (screen reader version)
Inference Based on SVARs Identified with Sign and Zero Restrictions: Theory and Applications (2.4 MB PDF)
Abstract: Are optimism shocks an important source of business cycle fluctuations? Are deficit-financed tax cuts better than deficit-financed spending to increase output? These questions have been previously studied using SVARs identified with sign and zero restrictions and the answers have been positive and definite in both cases. While the identification of SVARs with sign and zero restrictions is theoretically attractive because it allows the researcher to remain agnostic with respect to the responses of the key variables of interest, we show that current implementation of these techniques does not respect the agnosticism of the theory. These algorithms impose additional sign restrictions on variables that are seemingly unrestricted that bias the results and produce misleading confidence intervals. We provide an alternative and efficient algorithm that does not introduce any additional sign restriction, hence preserving the agnosticism of the theory. Without the additional restrictions, it is hard to support the claim that either optimism shocks are an important source of business cycle fluctuations or deficit-financed tax cuts work best at improving output. Our algorithm is not only correct but also faster than current ones.
Keywords: SVAR, sign and zero restrictions, optimism and fiscal shocks
Abstract: While the finance literature often equates government banks with political capture and capital misallocation, these banks can help mitigate financial shocks. This paper examines the role of Brazil's government banks in preventing a recession during the 2008-2010 financial crisis. Government banks in Brazil provided more credit, which offset declines in lending by private banks. Areas in Brazil with a high share of government banks experienced increases in lending, production, and employment during the crisis compared to areas with a low share of these banks. We find no evidence that lending was politically targeted or that it caused productivity to decline in the short-run.
Keywords: Credit, financial crises, state-owned banks, local economic activity
Abstract: In this paper, we consider whether long-term inflation expectations have become better anchored in Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. We do so using survey-based measures as well as financial market-based measures of long-term inflation expectations, where we construct the market-based measures from daily prices on nominal and inflation-linked bonds. This paper is the first to examine the evidence from Brazil and Mexico, making use of the fact that markets for longterm government debt have become better developed over the past decade. We find that inflation expectations have become much better anchored over the past decade in all three countries, as a testament to the improved credibility of the central banks in these countries when it comes to keeping inflation low. That said, one-year inflation compensation in the far future displays some sensitivity to at least one macroeconomic data release per country. However, the impact of these releases is small and it does not appear that investors systematically alter their expectations for inflation as a result of surprises in monetary policy, consumer prices, or real activity variables. Finally, long-run inflation expectations in Brazil appear to have been less well anchored than in Chile and Mexico.
Keywords: Inflation targeting, survey expectations, inflation compensation, Nelson-Siegel model, macro news suprises, Brazil, Chile, Mexico