Researchers, policymakers, and market participants have become increasingly focused on the effects of uncertainty and risk on financial market and economic outcomes. This paper provides a comprehensive survey of the many existing measures of risk, uncertainty, and volatility. It summarizes what these measures capture, how they are constructed, and their effects, paying particular attention to large uncertainty spikes, such as those appearing concurrently with the outbreak of COVID-19. The measures are divided into three types: (1) news-based, survey- based, and econometric; (2) asset market based; and (3) Knightian uncertainty. While uncertainty has significant real and financial effects and spills over across countries, the size and persistence of these effects depend crucially on the source of uncertainty.
We quantitatively evaluate the role of supply and demand of safe assets in determining neutral interest rates. Using an empirical cross-country state-space model, we find that the net supply of sovereign safe assets available to the private sector in secondary markets is an important driver of neutral rates for 11 advanced economies in the period 1970–2018. We also find that the global accumulation of international reserves in sovereign safe assets since the 1990s (the global savings glut) lowered the net supply of these assets and, thus reduced neutral rates by up to 50 basis points in our sample.
Advancements in computer technology have reshaped not only business operations but also household consumption. We estimate a business-cycle model disaggregating consumer IT and non-IT durable goods from the capital stock. We find that shocks to the supply of IT durables account for more than half of the variation in house- holds' real expenditure on IT durables. Furthermore, investment-specific productivity shocks drove nearly half of the rapid growth in household durable expenditures during the 2000s. Nonetheless, they have small influence over output dynamics, because unlike business investment goods, consumer durables do not add to the productive capital of the economy. The shocks become important when household IT goods are complementary to firms' capital, such as when online services are provided through consumers' smartphones.
Keywords: Investment; Durables; Investment-specific productivity.
I investigate how natural disaster can exacerbate fiscal vulnerabilities and trigger sovereign defaults. I extend a standard sovereign default model to include disaster risk and calibrate it to a sample of seven Caribbean countries that are frequently hit by hurricanes. I find that hurricane risk reduces government's ability to issue debt and that climate change may further restrict market access. Next, I show that "disaster clauses", that provide debt-servicing relief, improve government ability to borrow and mitigate the adverse impact of climate change on government's borrowing conditions.
Keywords: Sovereign risk, climate change, natural disasters.
The responsiveness of job creation to shocks is procyclical, while the responsiveness of job destruction is countercyclical. This new finding can be explained by a heterogeneous-firm model in which hiring costs lead to lumpy employment adjustment. The model predicts that policies that aim to stimulate employment by encouraging job creation, such as hiring subsidies, are significantly less effective in recessions: These are times when few firms are near their hiring threshold and many firms are near their firing threshold. Policies that target the job destruction margin, such as employment protection subsidies, are particularly effective at such times.
Keywords: Labor market frictions, hiring costs, hiring subsidies, employment stabilization policies, time-varying volatility
We characterize how U.S. global systemically important banks (GSIBs) supply short-term dollar liquidity in repo and foreign exchange swap markets in the post-Global Financial Crisis regulatory environment and serve as the "lenders-of-second-to-last-resort". Using daily supervisory bank balance sheet information, we find that U.S. GSIBs modestly increase their dollar liquidity provision in response to dollar funding shortages, particularly at period-ends, when the U.S. Treasury General Account balance increases, and during the balance sheet taper of the Federal Reserve. The increase in the dollar liquidity provision is mainly financed by reducing excess reserve balances at the Federal Reserve. Intra-firm transfers between depository institutions and broker-dealer subsidiaries within the same bank holding company are crucial to this type of "reserve-draining" intermediation. Finally, we discuss factors that contributed to the repo spike in September 2019 and the subseque nt response of U.S. GSIBs to recent policy interventions by the Federal Reserve.
How does a bank react when a substantial share of its borrowers suffer a large negative shock? To answer this question we exploit the 2014 collapse of energy prices using the universe of Mexican commercial bank loans. We show that, after the drop in energy prices, banks exposed to the energy sector increased their exposure to these borrowers even more, relaxing credit margins to their larger debtors in the sector. An increase of one standard deviation in a bank's ex-ante exposure to the energy sector increased the loan volume to borrowers in the sector by 18 percent and reduced interest rates by 6 percent, even though borrower's credit default swap spreads were widening. Highly exposed banks amplified this sector-specific shock to the rest of the economy by contracting lending to other sectors, with important real effects, as the borrowers could not switch credit suppliers. Finally, the energy price shock had a large negative impact on macro outcomes, especially in the capital-intensive secondary sector. Quantitatively, a one standard deviation increase in the exposure of a state's banks to the energy sector reduced its GDP by 1.8 percent.
Keywords: Credit exposure, bank lending, financial stability, commodity prices, emerging markets
Bank holding companies (BHCs) can be complex organizations, conducting multiple lines of business through many distinct legal entities and across a range of geographies. While such complexity raises the the costs of bank resolution when organizations fail, the effect of complexity on BHCs' broader risk profiles is less well understood. Business, organizational, and geographic complexity can engender explicit trade-offs between the agency problems that increase risk and the diversification, liquidity management, and synergy improvements that reduce risk. The outcomes of such trade-offs may depend on bank governance arrangements. We test these conjectures using data on large U.S. BHCs for the 1996-2018 period. Organizational complexity and geographic scope tend to provide diversification gains and reduce idiosyncratic and liquidity risks while also increasing BHCs' exposure to systematic and systemic risks. Regulatory changes focused on organizational complexity have significantly reduced this type of complexity, leading to a decrease in systemic risk and an increase in liquidity risk among BHCs. While bank governance structures have, in some cases, significantly affected the buildup of BHC complexity, better governance arrangements have not moderated the effects of complexity on risk outcomes.
Keywords: Bank complexity, risk taking, regulation, too big to fail, liquidity, corporate governance, agency problem, global banks, diversification
We study the effects of foreign real estate capital flows on local asset prices and employment using detailed housing transactions data. We document (i) a "China shock" in the U.S. real estate market after 2007 driven by the Chinese government's house purchase restrictions and (ii) "home bias" in foreign Chinese housing purchases in the United States as they are concentrated in ZIP codes historically populated by ethnic Chinese. Exploiting the quasi-random temporal and spatial variation of real estate capital inows from China, we find that foreign Chinese housing purchases have a positive and significant effect on local housing and labor markets. A one standard deviation increase in exposure to these purchases explains 24% and 18% of the cross-ZIP-code variation in local house prices and employment, respectively, with the employment effect transmitted through a housing net worth channel. We also show that these purchases drive out lower-income residents. Our results highlight the role of foreign real estate capital ows in both stimulating the real economy and inducing gentrification in local economies.
Keywords: Keywords: Capital flows, house price, employment, China shock
Although many central banks in the 21st century have become more transparent, Chinese monetary policy communications have been relatively opaque, making it more difficult for financial market participants to make decisions that depend on the future path of interest rates. We conduct a novel systematic textual analysis of the discussion in the quarterly reports of China fund managers, from which we infer their near-term expectations for monetary policy. We construct an aggregate index of manager expectations and show that, as a forecast of Chinese monetary policy, it compares favorably with both market-based and model-based alternative projections. We find that expectations are more accurate for funds that commit more analytical resources, have higher management fees, and with stronger managerial educational background. We also show that fund managers act on these expectations, and that correctly anticipating shifts in Chinese monetary policy improves fund performance. Our results imply that manager skill is an important determinant of fund returns, providing the first evidence from China on a question for which studies of asset
management in other countries have reached conflicting conclusions. economy.
Keywords: Chinese monetary policy, fund managers, textual analysis
Taking inefficiencies from taxation as given, a well-known public finance literature shows that the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) is a sufficient statistic for assessing the deadweight loss (DWL) from taxing labor income in a static neoclassical framework. Using a theoretical approach, we revisit this result from the vantage point of a general equilibrium macroeconomic model with labor search frictions. We show that, in this context, and against the backdrop of inefficient taxation, DWL can be up to 38 percent higher than the ETI under a range of reasonable parametric assumptions. Externalities arising from market participants not taking into account the impact of changes in their search- and vacancy-posting activities on other market participants can amplify this divergence substantially. However, with theoretical precision, we show how the wedge between the ETI and DWL can be controlled for, using readily observable variables.
Keywords: Elasticity of taxable income, deadweight loss from taxation, endogenous amenities, search frictions, social welfare
We document the exchange rate hedging channel that connects country-level measures of net external financial imbalances with exchange rates. In times of market distress, countries with large positive external imbalances (e.g. Japan) experience domestic currency appreciation, and crucially, forward exchange rates appreciate relatively more than the spot after adjusting for interest rate differentials. Countries with large negative foreign asset positions experience the opposite currency movements. We present a model demonstrating that exchange rate hedging coupled with intermediary constraints can explain these observed relationships between net external imbalances and spot and forward exchange rates. We find empirical support for this currency hedging channel of exchange rate determination in both the conditional and unconditional moments of exchange rates, option prices, large institutional investors' disclosure of hedging activities, and central bank swap line usage during the COVID-19 market turmoil.
Keywords: Global imbalance, exchange rate, forward, hedging, covered interest rate parity, currency options, COVID19
We revisit the association between trade and GDP comovement for 135 countries from 1970 to 2009. Guided by a simple theory, we introduce two notions of trade linkages: (i) the usual direct bilateral trade index and (ii) new indexes of common exposure to third countries capturing the role of similarity in trade networks. Both measures are economically and statistically associated with GDP correlation, suggesting an additional channel through which GDP fluctuations propagate through trade linkages. Moreover, high income countries become more synchronized when the content of their trade is tilted toward inputs while trade in final goods is key for low income countries. Finally, we present evidence that the density of the international trade network is associated with an amplification of the association between global trade flows and bilateral GDP comovement, leading to a significant evolution of the trade comovement slope over the last two decades.
Keywords: International trade, international business cycle comovement, networks, input-output linkages
This study provides a detailed analysis of the impact of financial sanctions on publicly traded companies. We consider the effect of imposing and lifting sanctions on the target country's traded equities and examine the differences in the reaction of politically connected firms and those without such connections. The paper focuses on Iran due to (1) its sizable financial markets, (2) imposition of sanctions of varying severity and duration on private and state-owned companies, (3) the significant presence of politically connected firms in the stock market, and (4) the unique event of the 2015 nuclear deal, resulting in fairly rapid lifting of a sizable portion of imposed sanctions. We find that sanctions affect politically connected firms more than ordinary firms, have lasting negative effects on profitability ratios, and that politically connected firms stock prices bounce back more slowly after removal of sanctions. Firms targeted by financial sanctions decrease their leverage and increase their cash holding to manage their perceived increase in risk profile.
Keywords: Financial Sanctions; capital structure; event study; political connections; Iran; national security
We present a tractable model of platform competition in a general equilibrium setting. We endogenize the size, number, and type of each platform, while allowing for different user types in utility and impact on platform costs. The economy is Pareto efficient because platforms internalize the network effects of adding more or different types of users by offering type-specific contracts that state both the number and composition of platform users. Using the Walrasian equilibrium concept, the sum of type-specific fees paid cover platform costs. Given the Pareto effciency of our environment, we argue against the presumption that platforms with externalities need be regulated.
Keywords: Two-sided markets, first and second welfare theorems, externalities
This paper documents several stylized facts on the real effects of economic uncertainty. First, higher uncertainty is associated with a more dispersed and negatively skewed distribution of output growth. Second, the response of economic growth to an increase in uncertainty is highly nonlinear and asymmetric. Third, higher asset volatility magni es the negative impact of uncertainty on growth. We develop and estimate an analytically tractable model in which rapid adoption of new technology may raise economic uncertainty which causes measured productivity to decline. The equilibrium growth distribution is negatively skewed and higher uncertainty leads to a thicker left tail.
Keywords: Uncertainty and growth, volatility, downside risk, growth at risk
Protectionist sentiments have been rising globally in recent years. The consequences of a surge in protectionist measures present policy challenges for emerging markets (EMs), which have become increasingly exposed to global trade. This paper serves two main purposes. First, we collect several stylized facts that characterize EMs' role in the new geography of trade. We focus on differences between advanced economies (AEs) and EMs in trade linkages, production structures, and factor supplies. Second, we build a dynamic, general equilibrium, quantitative trade model featuring multiple countries, sectors and factors of production. The model is motivated by and geared to jointly match the facts we present. We use the model to estimate the long-run global impacts of rising trade barriers on EMs|both direct impacts and spillovers through third-country effects. Heterogeneity in openness, production structure, trade linkages, and factor supplies leads to large di erences between the impacts on AEs versus EMs. We find that variations in both technological comparative advantage and factor supplies play key roles in shaping these differences.
Keywords: Emerging market economies, trade barriers, comparative advantage, dynamics
We exploit firm-level data on patent grants and subsequent reactions of stocks to identify technological news shocks. Changes in stock market valuations due to announcements of individual patent grants represent expected future increases in the technology level, which we refer to as patent-based news shocks. Our patentbased news shocks resemble diffusion news, in that they do not affect total factor productivity in the short run but induce a strong permanent effect after five years. These shocks produce positive comovement between consumption, output, investment, and hours. Unlike the existing empirical evidence, patent-based news shocks generate a positive response in inflation and the federal funds rate, in line with a standard New Keynesian model. Patenting activity in electronic and electrical equipment industries, within the manufacturing sector, and computer programming and data processing services, within the services sector, play crucial roles in driving our results.
Keywords: News Shocks, Patents, Patent-based news shocks
Sovereign Risk Matters: The Effects of Endogenous Default Risk on the Time-Varying Volatility of Interest Rate Spreads
Emerging market interest rate spreads display substantial time-varying volatility. We show that a baseline model with endogenous sovereign default risk can account for such volatility, even in the absence of shocks to the second moments of the exogenous stochastic variables. In particular, the model features a key non-linearity that allows it to replicate the volatility of interest rate spreads and its comovement with other economic variables. Volatility correlates positively with the level of the spreads and the trade balance and negatively with output and consumption.
Keywords: Sovereign risk, time-varying volatility, interest rates
Should debtor countries support each other during sovereign debt crises? We answer this question through the lens of a two-country sovereign-default model that we calibrate to the euro-area periphery. First, we look at cross-country bailouts. We find that whenever agents anticipate their existence, bailouts induce moral hazard an reduce welfare. Second, we look at the borrowing choices of a global central borrower. We find that it borrows less than individual governments and, as such, defaults become less frequent and welfare increases. Finally, we show that central borrower's policies can be replicated in a decentralized setting with Pigouvian taxes on debt.
Keywords: Sovereign default, sovereign contagion, bailouts, Pigouvian taxes
This paper studies the impact of transport infrastructure projects of the Belt and Road Initiative on shipment times and trade costs. Based on a new data on completed and planned Belt and Road transport projects, Geographic Information System analysis is used to estimate shipment times before and after the Belt and Road Initiative. Two sets of data are computed to address different research questions: a global database based on an analysis of 1,000 cities in 191 countries and 47 sectors and a regional database that focuses on more granular information (1,818 cities) for Belt and Road economies only. The paper uses sectoral estimates of “value of time” to transform changes in shipment times into changes in ad valorem trade costs at the country‐sector level. The findings show that the Belt and Road Initiative will significantly reduce shipment times and trade costs. For the world, the average reduction in shipment time will range between 1.2 and 2.5 percent, leading to reduction of aggregate trade costs between 1.1 and 2.2 percent. For Belt and Road economies, the change in shipment times and trade costs will range between 1.7 and 3.2 percent and 1.5 and 2.8 percent, respectively. Belt and Road economies located along the corridors where projects are built experience the largest gains. Shipment times along these corridors decline by up to 11.9 percent and trade costs by up to 10.2 percent.
Keywords: Transport infrastructure, GIS analysis, shipment times, trade costs
Common Transport Infrastructure: A Quantitative Model and Estimates from the Belt and Road Initiative
This paper presents a structural general equilibrium model to analyze the effects on trade, welfare, and gross domestic product of common transport infrastructure. The model builds on Caliendo and Parro (2015) to allow for changes in trade costs due to improvements in transportation infrastructure, financed through domestic taxation, connecting multiple countries. The model highlights the trade impact of infrastructure investments through cross-border input-output linkages. This framework is then used to quantify the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative. Using new estimates on the effects on trade costs of transport infrastructure related to the initiative, the model shows that gross domestic product will increase by up to 3.4 percent for participating countries and by up to 2.9 percent for the world. Because trade gains are not commensurate with projected investments, some countries may experience a negative welfare effect due to the high cost of the infrastructure.
Keywords: Transportation infrastructure, trade, structural general equilibrium, belt and road
We develop an algorithm to construct approximate decision rules that are piecewise-linear and continuous for DSGE models with an occasionally binding constraint. The functional form of the decision rules allows us to derive a conditionally optimal particle filter (COPF) for the evaluation of the likelihood function that exploits the structure of the solution. We document the accuracy of the likelihood approximation and embed it into a particle Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm to conduct Bayesian estimation. Compared with a standard bootstrap particle filter, the COPF significantly reduces the persistence of the Markov chain, improves the accuracy of Monte Carlo approximations of posterior moments, and drastically speeds up computations. We use the techniques to estimate a small-scale DSGE model to assess the effects of the government spending portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 when interest rates reached the zero lower bound.
Keywords: Bayesian Estimation, Nonlinear Filtering, Nonlinear Solution Methods, Particle MCMC, ZLB
The consensus in the recent literature is that the gains from international monetary cooperation are negligible, and so are the costs of a breakdown in cooperation. However, when assessed conditionally on empirically-relevant dynamic developments of the economy, the welfare cost of moving away from regimes of explicit or implicit cooperation may rise to multiple times the cost of economic fluctuations. In economies with incomplete markets, the incentives to act non-cooperatively are driven by the emergence of global imbalances, i.e., large net-foreign-asset positions; and, in economies with complete markets, by divergent real wages.
Keywords: Monetary policy cooperation, global imbalances, open-loop Nash games
Rising Import Tariffs, Falling Export Growth: When Modern Supply Chains Meet Old-Style Protectionism
We examine the impacts of the 2018-2019 U.S. import tariff increases on U.S. export growth through the lens of supply chain linkages. Using 2016 confidentia firm-trade linked data, we document the implied incidence and scope of new import tariffs. Firms that eventually faced tariff increases on their imports accounted for 84% of all exports and they represent 65% of manufacturing employment. For all affected firms, the implied cost is $900 per worker in new duties. To estimate the effect on U.S. export growth, we construct product-level measures of import tariff exposure of U.S. exports from the underlying firm micro data. More exposed products experienced 2 percentage point lower growth relative to products with no exposure. The decline in exports is equivalent to an ad valorem tariff on U.S. exports of almost 2% for the typical product and almost 4% for products with higher than average exposure.
Keywords: Global supply chains; tariffs; trade war; U.S. exports
When is Bad News Good News? U.S. Monetary Policy, Macroeconomic News, and Financial Conditions in Emerging Markets
Rises in U.S. interest rates are often thought to generate adverse spillovers to emerging market economies (EMEs). We show that what appears to be bad news for EMEs might actually be good news, or at least not-so-bad news, depending on the source of the rise in U.S. interest rates. We present evidence that higher U.S. interest rates stemming from stronger U.S. growth generate only modest spillovers, while those stemming from a more hawkish Fed policy stance or inflationary pressures can lead to significant tightening of EME financial conditions. Our identification of the sources of U.S. rate changes is based on high-frequency moves in U.S. Treasury yields and stock prices around FOMC announcements and U.S. employment report releases. We interpret positive comovements of stocks and interest rates around these events as growth shocks and negative comovements as monetary shocks, and estimate the effect of these shocks on emerging market asset prices. For economies with greater macroeconomic vulnerabilities, the difference between the impact of monetary and growth shocks is magnified. In fact, for EMEs with very low levels of vulnerability, a growth-driven rise in U.S. interest rates may even ease financial conditions in some markets.
Note: On February 13, 2020, this paper was updated to remove a figure titled “Federal Reserve Policy and Growth in Latin America”, which was inadvertently included in the original file.
This paper examines how the growth of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) has affected the sensitivity of international capital flows to global financial conditions. Using data on individual emerging market funds worldwide, we employ a novel identification strategy that controls for unobservable time-varying economic conditions at the investment destination. We find that the sensitivity of flows to global financial conditions for equity (bond) ETFs is 2.5 (2.25) times higher than for equity (bond) mutual funds. We then show that our findings have macroeconomic implications. In countries where ETFs hold a larger share of the equity market, total cross-border equity flows and returns are significantly more sensitive to global financial conditions. Our results imply that the increasing role of ETFs as a channel for international capital flows has amplified the global financial cycle in emerging markets.
Keywords: exchange-traded funds; mutual funds; global financial cycle; global risk; push and pull factors; capital flows; emerging markets