Abstract: We provide an experimental and theoretical evaluation of a cost-reducing innovation in the delivery of "self-help group" microfinance services, in which privatized agents earn payments through membership fees for providing services. Under the status quo, agents are paid by an outside donor and offer members free services. In our multi-country randomized control trial we evaluate the change in this incentive scheme on agent behavior and performance, and on overall village-level outcomes. We find that privatized agents start groups, attract members, mobilize savings, and intermediate loans at similar levels after a year but at much lower costs to the NGO. At the village level, we find higher levels of borrowing, business-related savings, and investment in business. Examining mechanisms, we find that self-help groups serve more business-oriented clientele when facilitated by agents who face strong financial incentives.
Keywords: Microfinance, self-help groups, privatized delivery
Revised Paper DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/IFDP.2015.1155r
Original Paper DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/IFDP.2015.1155
Abstract: Global value chains (GVCs) have grown rapidly over the past several decades. Over the same period, the aggregate value of current account imbalances has risen substantially. This paper looks at whether these developments are related. While there is a sizable literature that has documented the rise of global production networks, there have been few attempts to assess the potential effect on global imbalances. The paper uses measures of GVCs developed in the literature in panel regressions to assess the effect on global imbalances over the period 1995-2011. It is argued that these variables should be entered as a product rather than individually and that they should be lagged, not contemporaneous with the change in current account balances. The results suggest that GVC position weighted by participation and trade share is negatively related to a country's current account balance, i.e., moving upstream in the production process is negative for a country's current account. However, the effects on global imbalances over the period studied appear to be small.
Keywords: Global value chains, current account balances
Abstract: This paper examines how domestic holdings of government debt affect sovereign default risk and government debt management. I develop a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with both external and domestic debt that endogenously generates output contraction upon default. Domestic holdings of government debt weaken investors' balance sheets and induce a contraction of credit and output upon default. I calibrate the model to the Argentinean economy and show that the model reproduces key empirical moments. Introducing domestic debt also yields relevant normative implications. While domestic debt is crucial to determining the risk of default, the effcient internal-external composition of debt cannot be achieved without government intervention. Pigouvian subsidies can restore efficiency.
Keywords: Sovereign Defaults, Domestic Debt, Debt Crises, Credit Market
Abstract: Stekler and Symington (2016) construct indexes that quantify the Federal Open Market Committee's views about the U.S. economy, as expressed in the minutes of the FOMC's meetings. These indexes provide insights on the FOMC's deliberations, especially at the onset of the Great Recession. The current paper complements Stekler and Symington's analysis by showing that their indexes reveal relatively minor bias in the FOMC's views when the indexes are reinterpreted as forecasts. Additionally, these indexes provide a proximate mechanism for inferring the Fed staff's Greenbook forecasts of the U.S. real GDP growth rate, years before the Greenbook's public release.
Keywords: Autometrics, bias, Fed, financial crisis, FOMC, forecasts, GDP, Great Recession, Greenbook, impulse indicator saturation, projections, Tealbook, United States
Abstract: International trade exposes exporters and importers to substantial risks. To mitigate these risks, firms can buy special trade finance products from banks. This paper explores under which conditions and to what extent firms use these products. We find that letters of credit and documentary collections cover about 10 percent of U.S. exports and are preferred for larger transactions, indicating substantial fixed costs. Letters of credit are employed the most for exports to countries with intermediate contract enforcement. Compared to documentary collections, they are used for riskier destinations. We provide a model that rationalizes these empirical findings and discuss implications.
Keywords: Trade finance, multinational banks, risk, letter of credit
Abstract: We examine the increase in the net lending (saving minus investment) of nonfinancial corporations in the years preceding and especially following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). We consider whether this increase in net lending is an endogenous reflection of the current weak pace of growth or an outcome of other factors, such as firms' desire to cut investment and hoard assets, and thus an exogenous drag on growth. Looking at G7 economies, we find that the fall in corporate investment during the GFC was in line with historical norms, given the path of GDP growth, interest rates, profits, and other relevant determinants. However, we find that investment declined from a surprisingly weak starting point, as corporate investment in many of the G7 economies started falling below our models' predictions in the years before the GFC. Moreover, corporate payouts to investors in the form of dividends and equity buybacks have trended up over the past 1-1/2 decades, inconsistent with the view that cautious firms were cutting back on investment spending to strengthen their balance sheets. Identifying the causes of the rise in corporate net lending and declines in investment rates starting in the years before the GFC should be an important focus of future research.
Keywords: Investment, Corporate Saving, Corporate Balance Sheets
Abstract: Short sellers trade more on days with qualitative news--i.e. news containing fewer numbers. We show that this behavior is not informationally motivated but can be explained by short sellers exploiting higher liquidity on such days. We document that liquidity and noise trading increase in the presence of qualitative news thus enabling short sellers to better disguise their informed trades. Natural experiments support our findings. For example, qualitative news has a bigger effect on short sellers' trading after a decrease in liquidity following a stock's deletion from S&P 500 and a lower effect when investor attention is distracted by the Olympic Games.
Keywords: Short Selling, Information, Liquidity
Abstract: Banks are usually better informed on the loans they originate than outside investors. As a result, securitized loans might be of lower credit quality than--otherwise similar--non-securitized loans. We assess the effect of securitization activity on credit quality employing a uniquely detailed dataset from the euro-denominated syndicated loan market. We find that, at issuance, banks do not select and securitize loans of lower credit quality. Following securitization, however, the credit quality of borrowers whose loans are securitized deteriorates by more than those in the control group. We find tentative evidence suggesting that poorer performance by securitized loans might be linked to banks' reduced monitoring incentives.
Keywords: Securitization, syndicated loans, credit risk
Abstract: We investigate whether short sellers are subject to the disposition effect using a novel dataset that allows to identify the closing of short positions. Consistent with the disposition effect, short sellers are more likely to close a position the higher their capital gains. Furthermore, stocks with high short sale capital gains experience negative returns, suggesting that their disposition effect has an effect on stock prices. A trading strategy based on this finding achieves significant three-factor alphas. Overall, short sellers' behavioral biases limit their ability to arbitrage away the mispricing caused by the disposition effect of other market participants.
Keywords: Short selling, Disposition effect, Behavioral finance
Abstract: We use Portuguese firm-level data to investigate whether changes in resource misallocation may have contributed to the poor economic performance of some southern and peripheral European countries leading up to the Eurozone crisis. We extend Hsieh and Klenow's (2009) methodology to include intermediate inputs and consider all sectors of the economy (agriculture, manufacturing, and services). We find that within-industry misallocation almost doubled between 1996 and 2011. Equalizing total factor revenue productivity across firms within an industry could have boosted valued-added 48 percent and 79 percent above actual levels in 1996 and 2011, respectively. This implies that deteriorating allocative efficiency may have shaved around 1.3 percentage points off the annual GDP growth during the 1996-2011 period. Allocative efficiency deterioration, despite being a widespread phenomenon, is significantly higher in the service sector, with 5 industries accounting for 72 percent of the total variation. Capital distortions are the most important source of potential value-added efficiency gains, especially in the service sector, with a relative contribution increasing over time.
Keywords: Misallocation, wedges, productivity, firm-level data, financial integration
Abstract: This paper studies the impact of recessions on the longer-run level of output using data on 23 advanced economies over the past 40 years. We find that severe recessions have a sustained and sizable negative impact on the level of output. This sustained decline in output raises questions about the underlying properties of output and how we model trend output or potential around recessions. We find little support for the view that output rises faster than trend immediately following recessions to close the output gap. Indeed, we find little evidence that growth is faster following recessions than before; if anything post-trough growth is slower. Instead, we find that output gaps close importantly through downward revisions to potential output rather than through rapid post-recession growth. The revisions are made slowly (over years)--a process that leads to an initial underestimation of the effect of recessions on potential output and a corresponding under-prediction of inflation.
Keywords: business fluctuations, cycles, general macro, international business cycles
Abstract: Using confidential Federal Reserve data, we study the factors driving U.S. banknote flows between the United States and other countries. These flows are a significant component of capital flows in emerging market economies, where physical U.S. currency functions as a safe asset and precautionary demand for U.S. banknotes is a form of flight to quality. Prior to the global financial crisis, country-specific factors, including local economic uncertainty, largely explain the volume and heterogeneity of the flows. Since the crisis, global factors, particularly, global economic uncertainty, explain the flows markedly well. Further, precautionary demand for U.S. banknotes is not episodic.
Keywords: capital flows, currency flows, U.S. banknotes, safe asset, emerging market economies, economic uncertainty, flight to quality, capital flight, money demand.
Abstract: We study the effect of financial market conditions on managerial compensation structure. First, we analyze the optimal pay-for-performance in a model in which corporate decisions and firm value are both endogenous to trading due to feedback from information contained in stock prices. In a less frictional financial market, the improved information content of stock prices helps guide managerial decisions, and this information substitutes out part of the direct incentive provision from compensation contracts. Thus, the optimal pay-for-performance is lowered in response to reductions in market frictions. Second, we test our theory using two quasi-natural experiments and find evidence that is consistent with the theory. Our results indicate that the financial market environment plays an important role in shaping CEO compensation structure.
Keywords: Feedback effect, CEO compensation, Transaction costs, Reg-SHO Pilot program, Decimalization
Abstract: Relationships between firms and their foreign suppliers are the foundation of international trade, but data limitations and reliability concerns make studying such relationships challenging. We evaluate and enhance supplier information in U.S. import data and present new facts about importer-exporter relationships. Count of foreign exporters from U.S. import data tends to exceed those from source country data, especially from China. The pattern of U.S. imports from origin countries changes substantially by tracing trade back to the supplier's location instead. Related-party relationships trade more, while larger countries have more relationships.
Keywords: International Trade, Transactional Relationships
Abstract: We assess the effect of securitization activity on banks' lending rates employing a uniquely detailed dataset from the euro-denominated syndicated loan market. We find that, in the run up to the 2007-2009 crisis banks that were more active at originating asset-backed securities did not price their loans more aggressively (i.e. with narrower lending spreads) than less-active banks. Using a unique feature of our dataset, we show that also within the set of loans that were previously securitized, the relative level of securitization activity by the originating bank is not related to narrower lending spreads. Our results suggest that while the credit cycle seems to have a major impact of lending standards, the effect of securitization activity appears to be very limited.
Keywords: Securitization, bank lending rates, syndicated loans
Abstract: In the years preceding the 2007-2009 financial crisis, forward-looking indicators of bank risk concentrated and suggested unusually low expectations of bank default. We assess whether the ex-ante (i.e. prior to the crisis) cross-sectional variability in bank characteristics is related to the ex-post (i.e. during the crisis) materialization of bank risk. Our tailor-made dataset crucially accounts for the different dimensions of realized bank risk including access to central bank liquidity during the crisis. We consistently find that less reliance on deposit funding, more aggressive credit growth, larger size and leverage were associated with larger levels of realized risk. The impact of these characteristics is particularly relevant for capturing the systemic dimensions of bank risk and tends to become stronger for the tail of the riskier banks. The majority of these characteristics also predicted bank risk as materialized before the financial crisis.
Keywords: Bank risk, business models, Great Recession
Cheap Talk and the Efficacy of the ECB's Securities Market Programme: Did Bond Purchases Matter? (PDF)
Abstract: In 2010, in response to an ever-worsening fiscal crisis, the ECB began purchasing sovereign debt from troubled euro-area countries through its Securities Market Programme (SMP). This program was designed to improve market functioning and restore the monetary transmission mechanism within the euro area. This paper does not test those ideals. Rather, we test whether SMP purchases systematically lowered peripheral yields and spreads. We find limited evidence of purchase effects but large announcement effects. In addition, on days in which the ECB was believed to have made large purchases, yields moved down, independent of the size of the ECB's purchases or even if the ECB conducted any purchase at all that week. In all, we conclude that the ECB's SMP influenced yields through a confidence channel rather than through any direct purchase effect. In the appendix to this paper we provide a detailed timeline of SMP purchases and market beliefs about purchase timing.
Keywords: Monetary policy, interest rates, recession, European Central Bank, asset purchases, euro area
Abstract: To "ensure depth and liquidity," the European Central Bank in 2010 and 2011 repeatedly intervened in sovereign debt markets through its Securities Markets Programme. These purchases provide a unique natural experiment for testing the effects of large-scale asset purchases on risk premia arising from liquidity concerns. To explore how official intervention influences liquidity premia, we develop a search-based asset-pricing model. Consistent with our model's predictions, we find statistically and economically significant stock and flow effects on sovereign bonds' liquidity premia in response to official purchases.
Keywords: Securities Markets Programme, European Central Bank, bond, liquidity risk, search and matching
The International Bank Lending Channel of Monetary Policy Rates and QE: Credit Supply, Reach-for-Yield, and Real Effects (PDF)
Abstract: We identify the international credit channel of monetary policy by analyzing the universe of corporate loans in Mexico, matched with firm and bank balance-sheet data, and by exploiting foreign monetary policy shocks, given the large presence of European and U.S. banks in Mexico. We find that a softening of foreign monetary policy increases the supply of credit of foreign banks to Mexican firms. Each regional policy shock affects supply via their respective banks (for example, U.K. monetary policy affects credit supply in Mexico via U.K. banks), in turn implying strong real effects, with substantially larger elasticities from monetary rates than QE. Moreover, low foreign monetary policy rates and expansive QE increase disproportionally more the supply of credit to borrowers with higher ex ante loan rates--reach-for-yield--and with substantially higher ex post loan defaults, thus suggesting an international risk-taking channel of monetary policy. All in all, the results suggest that foreign QE increases risk-taking in emerging markets more than it improves the real outcomes of firms.
Keywords: Credit channel of monetary policy, financial globalization, quantitative easing (QE), credit supply, risk-taking, foreign banks.
Abstract: In recent years, policymakers have generally relied on macroprudential policies to address financial stability concerns. However, our understanding of these policies and their efficacy is limited. In this paper, we construct a novel index of domestic macroprudential policies in 57 advanced and emerging economies covering the period from 2000:Q1 to 2013:Q4, with tightenings and easings recorded separately. The effectiveness of these policies in curbing bank credit growth and house price inflation is then assessed using a dynamic panel data model. The main findings of the paper are: (1) Macroprudential policies have been used far more actively after the global financial crisis in both advanced and emerging market economies. (2) These policies have primarily targeted the housing sector, especially in the advanced economies. (3) Macroprudential policies are usually changed in tandem with bank reserve requirements, capital flow management measures, and monetary policy. (4) Empirical analysis suggests that macroprudential tightening is associated with lower bank credit growth, housing credit growth, and house price inflation. (5) Targeted policies--for example, those specifically intended to limit the growth of housing credit--seem to be more effective. (6) In emerging economies, capital inflow restrictions targeting the banking sector are also associated with lower credit growth, although portfolio flow restrictions are not.
Keywords: Bank credit, house prices, macroprudential policy, dynamic panel data model
International Financial Spillovers to Emerging Market Economies: How Important Are Economic Fundamentals? (PDF)
Abstract: We assess the importance of economic fundamentals in the transmission of international shocks to financial markets in various emerging market economies (EMEs). Our analysis covers the so-called taper-tantrum episode of 2013 and six earlier episodes of severe EME-wide financial stress since the mid-1990s. Cross-country regressions lead us to the following results: (1) EMEs with relatively better economic fundamentals suffered less deterioration in financial markets during the 2013 taper-tantrum episode. (2) Differentiation among EMEs set in quite early and persisted throughout this episode. (3) Controlling for economic fundamentals, we also find that, during the taper tantrum, financial conditions deteriorated more in those EMEs that had earlier experienced larger private capital inflows and greater exchange rate appreciation. (4) For earlier episodes, we find little evidence of investor differentiation across EMEs being explained by differences in their relative vulnerabilities during EME crises of the 1990s and early 2000s. (5) That said, differentiation across EMEs based on fundamentals does not appear to be unique to the 2013 episode. Differences in economic fundamentals played a role in explaining the heterogeneous EME financial market responses during the global financial crisis of 2008, and the role of fundamentals appeared to progressively increase through the European crisis in 2011 and subsequently the 2013 taper tantrum.
Keywords: Emerging market economies, financial spillovers, economic fundamentals, vulnerability, depreciation pressure, taper tantrum, financial stress
Abstract: I document that the average productivity of firms tends to increase, and its variance to decrease, as they age. These two facts combined suggest that managers learn to reduce their mistakes as they operate. I develop a quantitative framework mimicking these dynamics and find that young firms have substantially higher financing costs due to lower and riskier returns. In this scenario, a reduction in the financial development of an economy raises disproportionately the cost of credit of young-productive firms increasing the input misallocation within this subgroup. To test the validity of the theory, I find that the data confirms some novel predictions on a series of firm-level moments. Finally, I show that introducing these two facts allows the model to better explain the relation between financial and economic development.
Keywords: productivity, misallocation, financial frictions, learning
Abstract: What drives aggregate fluctuations? I test the granular hypothesis, according to which the largest firms in the economy drive aggregate dynamics, by estimating a dynamic factor model with firm-level data and controlling for the propagation of firm-level shocks using multi-firm growth model. Each time series, the growth rate of sales of a specific firm, is decomposed in an unobserved common macroeconomic component and in a residual that I interpret as an idiosyncratic firm-level component. The empirical results suggest that, once I control for aggregate shocks, idiosyncratic shocks do not explain much of U.S. GDP growth fluctuations.
Keywords: Business Cycles, Firm Dynamics, Granular Residual, Dynamic Factor Models
Abstract: This paper describes the stylized facts characterizing periods of exceptionally large capital inflows in a sample of 70 middle- and high-income countries over the last 35 years. We identify 155 episodes of large capital inflows and find that these events are typically accompanied by an economic boom and followed by a slump. Moreover, during episodes of large capital inflows capital and labor shift out of the manufacturing sector, especially if the inflows begin during a period of low international interest rates. However, accumulating reserves during the period in which capital inflows are unusually large appears to limit the extent of labor reallocation. Larger credit booms and capital inflows during the episodes we identify increase the probability of a sudden stop occurring during or immediately after the episode. In addition, the severity of the post-inflows recession is significantly related to the extent of labor reallocation during the boom, with a stronger shift of labor out of manufacturing during the inflows episode associated with a sharper contraction in the aftermath of the episode.
Keywords: Capital Flows, Surges, Sectoral Allocation, Sudden Stops
Abstract: Following Leeper, Sims, and Zha (1996), we identify monetary policy shocks in SVARs by restricting the systematic component of monetary policy. In particular, we impose sign and zero restrictions only on the monetary policy equation. Since we do not restrict the response of output to a monetary policy shock, we are agnostic in Uhlig's (2005) sense. But, in contrast to Uhlig (2005), our results support the conventional view that a monetary policy shock leads to a decline in output. Hence, our results show that the contractionary effects of monetary policy shocks do not hinge on questionable exclusion restrictions.
Keywords: SVARs, Monetary policy shocks, Systematic component of monetary policy
Abstract: We analyze the impact of bad-tail risks on managerial pay functions, especially the decision to pay managers in stock or in options. In contrast to conventional wisdom, we find that options are often a superior vehicle for limiting managerial incentives to take bad-tail risks while providing incentives to exert effort. Arrangements similar to collar options are able to incent the desired project choice in wider range of circumstances than call options or stock. However, information requirements appear high. We briefly explore alternatives with features similar to maluses and clawbacks, which are a bit like weakening the limited liability of managers.
Keywords: Compensation, Bad tail risk
Government Connections and Financial Constraints: Evidence from a Large Representative Sample of Chinese Firms (PDF)
Abstract: We examine the role of firms' government connections, defined by government intervention in CEO appointment and the status of state ownership, in determining the severity of financial constraints faced by Chinese firms. We demonstrate that government connections are associated with substantially less severe financial constraints (i.e., less reliance on internal cash flows to fund investment), and that the sensitivity of investment to internal cash flows is higher for firms that report greater obstacles to obtaining external funds. We also find that those large non-state firms with weak government connections, likely the engine for innovation in the coming years in China, are especially financially constrained, due perhaps to the formidable hold that their state rivals have on financial resources after the 'grabbing-the-big-and-letting-go-the-small' privatization program in China. Our empirical results suggest that government connections play an important role in explaining Chinese firms' financing conditions, and provide further evidence on the nature of the misallocation of credit by China's dominant state-owned banks.
Keywords: Financial constraints, investment, political connections, firm size, China, capital allocation, invest cash flow sensitivity
Abstract: We analyze a model of anomaly discovery. Consistent with existing evidence, we show that the discovery of an anomaly reduces its magnitude and increases its correlation with existing anomalies. One new prediction is that the discovery of an anomaly reduces the correlation between deciles 1 and 10 for that anomaly. Using data for 12 well-known anomalies, we find strong evidence consistent with this prediction. Moreover, the correlation between deciles 1 and 10 of an anomaly becomes correlated with the aggregate hedge-fund wealth volatility after the anomaly is discovered. Our model also sheds light on how to distinguish between risk- and mispricing-based anomalies.
Keywords: Anomaly, Arbitrage, Discovery, Arbitrageur-based asset pricing.
Monetary Policy, Trend Inflation and the Great Moderation: An Alternative Interpretation - Comment (PDF)
Abstract: Working with a small-scale calibrated New-Keynesian model, Coibion and Gorodnichenko (2011) find that the reduction in trend inflation during Volcker's mandate was a key factor behind the Great Moderation. We revisit this finding with an estimated New-Keynesian model with trend inflation and no indexation based on Christiano, Eichenbaum and Evans (2005). First, our simulations confirm Coibion and Gorodnichenko's (2011) main finding. Second, we show that a trend inflation-immune Taylor rule based on economic theory can avoid indeterminacy even at high levels of trend inflation such as those observed in the 1970s.
Keywords: Trend inflation, determinacy, and monetary policy.