This paper is motivated by a set of cross-country observations on economic growth, structural transformation, and investment rates in a large sample of countries. We observe a hump-shaped relationship between a country's investment rate and its level of development, both within countries over time and across countries. Advanced economies reach their investment peak at a higher level of income and at an earlier point in time relative to emerging markets. We also observe the familiar patterns of structural change (a decline in the agricultural share and an increase in the services share, both relative to manufacturing). The pace of change observed in the 1930 to 1980 period in advanced economies is remarkably similar to that in emerging markets since 1960. Motivated by these facts, we develop a two-region model of the world economy that captures the dynamics of investment and structural change. The regions are isolated from each other up to the point of capital market liberalization in the early 1990s. At that point, capital flows from advanced economies to emerging markets and accelerates the process of structural change in emerging markets. Both regions gain from the liberalization of financial markets, but the majority of the gains accrue to the emerging economies. The overall magnitude of gains depends on the date of liberalization, the relative sizes of the two regions and the degree of asymmetry between the two regions at the point of liberalization. Finally, we consider the impact of a "second wave" of liberalization when China fully opens its economy to capital inflows.
We link the sustained appreciation of the U.S. dollar from 2011 to 2019 to international capital flows driven by primitive economic factors. We show that increases in foreign investors' net savings, increases in U.S. monetary policy rates relative to the rest of the world, and shifts in investor demand for U.S. financial assets contributed approximately equally to the dollar's appreciation. We then quantify the impact of potential future demand shifts for U.S. assets on the value of the dollar.
We exploit quasi-exogenous variation in passive ownership around the Russell 1000/2000 cutoff to explore the causal effects of passive ownership on the securities lending market. We find that passive ownership causes an increase in lendable supply and short interest, while lending fees remain largely unchanged. The utilization ratio—i.e., the ratio of short interest over lendable supply—goes up, implying that shorting demand increases more than lendable supply. We argue that this additional demand results from an increase in the quality of lendable supply as passive funds are less likely to recall stock loans. Finally, we document that passive ownership-induced short selling improves information efficiency around negative earnings news.
We analyze relational contracts between a lender and borrower when borrower cash flows are not contractible and the costs of intermediation vary over time. Because lenders provide repayment incentives to borrowers through the continuation value of the lending relationship, borrowers will condition loan repayment on the likelihood of receiving loans in the future. Therefore, the borrower's beliefs about the lender's future liquidity and profitability become an important component of the borrower's repayment decision. Consequently, the possibility of high lending costs in the future weakens repayment incentives and can cause the borrower to strategically default in some states and an inefficient under-provision of credit. We characterize the optimal relational contract and discuss the application of our model to the case of microfinance and trade credit.
Credit access and relational contracts: An experiment testing informational and contractual frictions for Pakistani farmers
Credit access is limited in rural areas, especially in developing economies. Using a novel two-stage experimental design in Pakistan, first, we document that bank lending only serves a small fraction of rural credit demand. Second, we test the importance of information and enforcement technology frictions for limiting bank lending by randomly varying loan contractual terms across farmers and find that enforcement technology is the primary friction. Third, using an endline survey, we document that farmers tend to correctly identify the financial consequences of non-repayment. Fourth, our results suggest one possible solution to overcome this financial friction---a motivated and interlinked intermediary and the use of relational contracts.
We study how professional fund managers' growth expectations affect the actions they take with respect to equity investment and in turn the effects on prices. Using novel data on China's mutual fund managers' growth expectations, we show that pessimistic managers decrease equity allocations and shift away from more-cyclical stocks. We identify a strong short-run causal effect of growth expectations on stock returns, despite statistically significant delays in price discovery from short-sale constraints. Finally, we find that an earnings-based measure of price informativeness is increasing in fund investment.
Unemployment insurance and wage subsidies are key tools to support labor markets in recessions. We develop a multi-sector search and matching model with on-the-job human capital accumulation to study labor market policy responses to sector-specific shocks. Our calibration accounts for structural differences in labor markets between the United States and the euro area, including a lower job-finding rate in the latter. We use the model to evaluate unemployment insurance and wage subsidy policies in recessions of different duration. We find that, after a temporary sector-specific shock, unemployment insurance improves both productivity and reallocation toward productive sectors at the cost of initially higher unemployment and, thus, human capital destruction. In the United States, unemployment insurance is preferred to wage subsidies when it does not distort job creation for too long. By contrast, wage subsidies reduce unemployment and preserve human capital, at the cost of limiting reallocation. In the euro area, where the job-finding rate is lower, subsidies are preferred.
Spillovers from China to global financial markets have been found to be small owing to China's limited integration in the global financial system. In this paper, however, we provide evidence that China constitutes an important driver of the global financial cycle. We argue that because of China's importance for global consumption, stronger Chinese growth raises global growth prospects, inducing an increase in global risk sentiment and an expansion in global asset prices and global credit. Two contributions are key to this finding: (1) We construct a measure of China's credit impulse to identify Chinese policy-induced demand shocks. Our approach takes advantage of the fact that a primary tool of China's stabilization policy-encompassing monetary, fiscal, and regulatory policies-is controlling the amount of credit in the economy. Without China's credit impulse, it is difficult to discern global financial spillovers; (2) We estimate an alternative measure of Chinese GDP growth that captures its business cycle given data concerns about the smoothness of official GDP data. Without China's alternative GDP measure, it is difficult to attribute any global cycle movements to economic developments in China.
I survey the role of geopolitics and sanctions risk in shaping the U.S. dollar's status as the primary currency used for international reserves. Without changes in the economic incentives for holding FX reserves in U.S. dollar assets, an increased threat of sanctions is unlikely to drastically reduce the dollar share of FX reserves. Currently, around three-quarters of foreign government holdings of safe U.S. assets are by countries with some military tie to the U.S. Even a reduced reliance on the U.S. dollar for trade invoicing and debt denomination by a large bloc of countries less geopolitically aligned with the U.S. would be unlikely to end U.S. dollar dominance.
Keywords: Foreign Exchange Reserves, Sanctions, Security Alliances
We investigate the effects of financial risk cycles on business cycles, using a panel spanning 73 countries since 1900. Agents use a Bayesian learning model to form their beliefs on risk. We construct a proxy of these beliefs and show that perceived low risk encourages risk-taking, augmenting growth at the cost of accumulating financial vulnerabilities, and therefore, a reversal in growth follows. The reversal is particularly pronounced when the low-risk environment persists and credit growth is excessive. Global-risk cycles have a stronger effect on growth than local-risk cycles via their impact on capital flows, investment, and debt-issuer quality.
Keywords: Stock market volatility, uncertainty, monetary policy independence, financial instability, risk-taking, global financial cycles
Using responses of credit default swap indexes to ECB monetary policy announcements, we isolate a novel credit policy component of monetary policy surprises. We examine how such unconventional monetary policy surprises affect investor perceptions of credit risk and the functioning of primary corporate debt markets. Favorable credit surprises cause declines in uncertainty about credit risk and suggest a more stable outlook on its dynamics over the following months. Both net and gross corporate bond issuance increase as a result of favorable credit surprises, with the largest response in investment grade issuance. We argue that this provides evidence for the efficacy of a local channel of unconventional monetary policy.
Keywords: CDS, central banks, credit derivatives, credit programs, debt issuance, uncertainty
Debt overhang is central for theories of capital structure, yet credible empirical estimates of its effects remain elusive. We study the consequences and mechanisms of debt overhang using exogenous changes in the leverage of commercial retail properties. Identification comes from changes in property values occurring after pre-determined debt rollover dates. We show that debt reduces profitability by impairing property owners' response to negative shocks, reducing the business activity of their remaining retail tenants. For the median property, a 10 percentage point leverage increase causes 22% lower employment, mostly in large retail stores, and overall 15% lower operating income.
We develop a business cycle model with search frictions in the labor market and a labor supply decision along the extensive margin that yields cyclical asymmetry between peaks and troughs of the unemployment rate and symmetric fluctuations of the labor force participation rate as in the U.S. data. We calibrate the model and find that cyclical changes in the extent of search frictions are solely responsible for the peak-trough asymmetry. Participation decisions do not generate asymmetry but contribute to the fluctuations in search frictions by changing the size and composition of the pool of job seekers, which in turn affects the tightness ratio and thereby slack in the labor market. The participation rate would be counterfactually asymmetric absent labor supply responses to shocks.
Flightiness, or depositor sensitivity to liquidity needs, can be an important determinant of financial distress. I leverage institutional differences that attract depositors with varying flightiness across building and loan associations in California during the Great Depression. A new type of plan, the Dayton plan, involved less restrictive savings plans and lower withdrawal penalties. Dayton plans in California were more likely to close during the Great Depression. Archival evidence on lending rates and returns supports the flightiness mechanism.
Keywords: Bank Failures, Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, Building and Loan, Great Depression
To mitigate the health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, governments worldwide engaged in massive fiscal support programs. We show that generous fiscal support contributed to an increase in the demand for consumption goods during the pandemic, but industrial production did not adjust quickly enough to meet the sharp increase in demand. This imbalance between supply and demand across countries led to high inflation. Our findings suggest a sizable role for fiscal policy in affecting price stability.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the great lockdown caused macroeconomic variables to display complex patterns that hardly follow any historical behavior. In the context of Bayesian VARs, an off-the-shelf exercise demonstrates how a very low number of extreme pandemic observations bias the estimated persistence of the variables, affecting forecasts and giving a myopic view of the economic effects after a structural shock. I propose an easy and straightforward solution to deal with these extreme episodes, as an extension of the Minnesota Prior with dummy observations by allowing for time dummies. The Pandemic Priors succeed in recovering these historical relationships and the proper identification and propagation of structural shocks.
Keywords: Bayesian VAR, Minnesota Prior, COVID-19, structural shocks.
Despite a formal 'no-bailout clause; we estimate significant net present value transfers from the European Union to Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, ranging from roughly 0.5% (Ireland) to a whopping 43% (Greece) of2010 output during the Eurozone crisis. We propose a model to analyze and understand bailouts in a monetary union, and the large observed differences across countries. We characterize bailout size and likelihood as a function of the economic fundamentals (economic activity, debt-to-gdp ratio, default costs). Our model embeds a 'Southern view' of the crisis (transfers did not help) and a 'Northern view' (transfers weaken fiscal discipline). While a stronger no-bailout commitment reduces risk-shifting, it may not be optimal from the perspective of the creditor country, even ex-ante, if it increases the risk of immediate insolvency for high debt countries. Hence, the model provides a potential justification for the often decried policy of 'kicking the can down the road.' Mapping the model to the estimated transfers, we find that the main purpose of the outsized Greek bailout was to prevent an exit from the eurozone and possible contagion. Bailouts to avoid sovereign default were comparatively modest.
Keywords: Euro area, Monetary union, Sovereign debt, Sovereign default, Debt monetization
We study the optimal design of means-tested transfers and progressive income taxes. In a simple analytical model, we demonstrate an optimally negative relation between transfers and income-tax progressivity due to efficiency and redistribution concerns. In a rich dynamic model, we quantify the optimal plan with flexible tax-and-transfer functions. Transfers should be larger than currently in the U.S. and financed with moderate income-tax progressivity. Transfers are key to implement higher progressivity in average than in marginal tax-and-transfer rates, achieving redistribution while preserving efficiency. Quantitatively, the left tail of the income distribution determines optimal transfers, whereas the right tail determines income-tax progressivity.
Keywords: Heterogeneous Agents, Fiscal Policy, Optimal Taxation, Redistribution
We develop a new small open economy model (SONOMA) in which domestic corporate debt and equities are affected by shocks to both external credit and equity markets. In a novel empirical analysis of several small-but-developed economies, we show that both external debt and equity shocks are important determinants of domestic economic fluctuations, corporate leverage, and net foreign asset positions. SONOMA replicates our empirical facts about asset prices, financial flows, and economic activity.
This paper develops a framework for studying the effects of higher trade openness on the wage distribution that emphasizes within-industry labor reallocation across firms, strong skill-productivity complementarities in production and heterogenous fixed export costs across firms. Assuming no entry in the industry, an autarkic economy that opens to trade experiences a pervasive rise in wage inequality; a trade liberalization in a trading economy increases inequality at the lower end of the distribution, but may reduce it elsewhere. Assuming free entry, opening to trade could result in pervasively higher inequality or wage polarization. The analysis highlights the importance of new exporters (extensive margin) in shaping the aggregate relative demand for skills, a channel controlled by the distribution of fixed export costs in the model.
Keywords: Trade, firms, supermodularity, wage inequality, workers
Fiscal devaluations—an increase in import tariffs and export subsidies (IX) or an increase in value-added taxes and payroll subsidies (VP)—have been shown to provide as much stimulus under fixed exchange rates as a currency devaluation. We find that if agents expect policies to be reversed and the tax pass-through is large, VP is contractionary and IX provides a modest boost. In our medium-scale DSGE model, both features are crucial in accounting for Germany’s underperformance in response to VP in 2007. These findings cast doubt on fiscal devaluations as a cyclical stabilization tool when monetary policy is constrained.
Keywords: Exchange Rates, Fiscal Devaluations, Trade Policies
We study a global panel of green and conventional bonds to assess the borrowing cost advantage at issuance for green bond issuers. We find that, on average, green bonds have a yield spread that is 8 basis points lower relative to conventional bonds. This borrowing cost advantage, or greenium, emerges as of 2019 and coincides with the growth of the sustainable asset management industry following EU regulation. Within this context, we find that the greenium is linked to two proxies of demand pressure, bond oversubscription and bond index inclusion. Moreover, while green bond governance appears to matter for the greenium, the credibility of the underlying projects does not have a significant impact. Instead, the greenium is unevenly distributed to large, investment-grade issuers, primarily within the banking sector and developed economies. These findings have implications for the role of green bonds in incentivizing meaningful green investments throughout the global economy.
Keywords: Green bonds, corporate bonds, green finance, sustainable finance, climate finance, green bond premium, bond issuance
We investigate how corporate loan costs are affected by climate change-related natural disasters. We construct granular measures of borrowers’ exposure to natural disasters and then disentangle the direct effects of disasters from the effects of lenders updating their beliefs about the impact of future disasters. Following a climate change-related disaster, spreads on loans of at-risk, yet unaffected borrowers, spike and are amplified when attention to climate change is high. Weaker borrowers with the most extreme exposure to these disasters suffer the highest increase in spreads. Importantly, there is no such effect from disasters that are not aggravated by climate change.
Keywords: Banks, climate change, loan pricing, natural disasters
We show that monetary policy affects homeownership decisions and argue that this effect is an important and overlooked channel of monetary policy transmission. We first document that monetary policy shocks are a substantial driver of fluctuations in the U.S. homeownership rate and that monetary policy affects households' housing tenure choices. We then develop and calibrate a two-agent New Keynesian model that can replicate the estimated transmission of monetary policy shocks to homeownership rates and housing rents. We find that the calibrated model provides an explanation to the "price puzzle" and delivers two important results with policy implications. First, the homeownership decision channel amplifies the redistributive effects of monetary policy, with contractionary shocks benefiting more outright homeowners and disadvantaging more renters and homeowners with a mortgage. Second, a monetary authority that reacts to a price index that includes housing rents generates excess house price, rents, and output volatility and larger real effects.
We provide evidence of a new channel of how exchange rates affect trade. Using a novel identification strategy that exploits firms' foreign currency debt maturity structure in Colombia around a large depreciation, we show that firms experiencing a stronger debt revaluation of dominant currency debt due to a home currency depreciation compress imports relatively more while exports are unaffected. Dominant currency financing does not lead to an import compression for firms that export, hold foreign currency assets, or are active in the foreign exchange derivatives markets, as they are all hedged against a revaluation of their debt. These findings can be rationalized through the prism of a model with costly state verification and foreign currency borrowing. Dominant currency pricing mutes the effects of dominant currency financing on imports relative to producer currency pricing.
Widespread adoption of just-in-time (JIT) production has reduced inventory holdings. This paper finds that JIT creates a trade-off between firm profitability and vulnerability to large shocks. Empirically, JIT adopters experience higher sales and less volatility while also exhibiting heightened cyclicality and sensitivity to natural disasters. I explain these facts in a structurally estimated general equilibrium model where firms can adopt JIT. Relative to a no-JIT economy, the estimated model implies a 1.3% increase in firm value. At the same time, an unanticipated shock results in a roughly 15% deeper output contraction. This occurs because firms "stock out" or hoard materials.
Upon arrival of macroeconomic news, economic agents update their beliefs about the long-run fundamentals of the economy. I show that signals about the agents’ long-run expectations, proxied by the economic outlook revisions of professional forecasters, convey sufficient information to identify the effects of expected future technological changes, or news shocks. A major advantage of this approach from the existing news shock literature is that it does not depend on an empirical measure for technology, or on assumptions about common trends and timing of the technological change. I show that technological news shocks cause a strong anticipation effect in investment and an increase in hours, while there is less evidence of consumption smoothing over time---in line with news-driven business cycle models featuring a key role of financial frictions.
Keywords: instrumental variable, news shock, professional forecasts, proxy SVAR
Empirical evidence suggests that recessions have long-run effects on the economy's productive capacity. Recent literature embeds endogenous growth mechanisms within business cycle models to account for these "scarring" effects. The optimal conduct of monetary policy in these settings, however, remains largely unexplored. This paper augments the standard sticky-price New Keynesian (NK) to allow for endogenous dynamics in aggregate productivity. The model has a representation similar to the two-equation NK model, with an additional condition linking productivity growth to current and expected future output gaps. Absent state contingency in the subsidies that correct the externalities associated with productivity growth, optimal monetary policy sets inflation above target whenever the subsidies fall short of the externalities. In the recovery from a spell at the ZLB, the optimal discretionary policy sets inflation temporarily above target, helping mitigate the long-run damage. Following a cost-push shock that creates inflationary pressure, the central bank tolerates a larger rise in inflation than in a model with exogenous productivity. The gains from commitment include the central bank's ability to make credible promises about future output gaps in a way that allows it to manipulate current productivity growth.
Keywords: Business cycles; Growth; Optimal monetary policy; Hysteresis; Scarring.
After a natural experiment is first used, other researchers often reuse the setting, examining different outcome variables. We use simulations based on real data to illustrate the multiple hypothesis testing problem that arises when researchers reuse natural experiments. We then provide guidance for future inference based on popular empirical settings including difference-in-differences regressions, instrumental variables regressions, and regression discontinuity designs. When we apply our guidance to two extensively studied natural experiments, business combination laws and the Regulation SHO pilot, we find that many results that were statistically significant using single hypothesis testing do not survive corrections for multiple hypothesis testing.
Keywords: False Positive, Multiple Hypothesis Testing, Natural Experiments
We introduce a novel database on sovereign defaults that involve public debt instruments governed by domestic law. By systematically reviewing a large number of sources, we identify 134 default and restructuring events of domestic debt instruments, in 52 countries from 1980 to 2018. Domestic-law defaults are a global phenomenon. Over time, they have become larger and more frequent than foreign-law defaults. Domestic-law debt restructurings proceed faster than foreign ones, often through extensions of maturities and amendments to the coupon structure. While face value reductions are rare, net-present-value losses for creditors are still large. Unilateral amendments and post-default restructuring are the norm, but negotiated pre-default restructurings are becoming increasingly frequent. We also document that domestic-law defaults typically involve debt denominated in local currency and held by resident investors. We complement our analysis with a collection "sovereign histories", which provide the fine details about each episode.
This paper studies an import model that incorporates both static crosscountry interdependence and dynamic dependence in firm-level decisions. I find that the benefit of sourcing from one country increases as a firm imports from more countries. Furthermore, using a partial identification approach under the revealed preferences assumption, I provide evidence for the sunk costs of importing, which make establishing relationships with new sellers costlier than maintaining existing ones. The coexistence of cross-country interdependence and sunk costs implies that temporary trade policy changes can have long-lasting effects on both the targeted and non-targeted markets through firm-level decisions.
We study the aggregate and re-distributive effects of currency devaluations in a small open economy heterogeneous households model with leverage-constrained banks. Our framework captures three stylized facts about liability dollarization in emerging economies: i) banks and firms borrow in foreign currency; ii) households save in dollar-denominated local bank deposits; and iii) such deposits are mainly held by wealthier households. The resulting currency mismatch causes an erosion of banks' net worth during a devaluation, depressing credit supply. The ensuing macroeconomic downturn is amplified by a strong reduction of consumption among poorer households in response to rising borrowing costs and falling labor income. Richer households are partially insured, as they are holding a larger share of their wealth in foreign currency denominated assets. We show that a larger currency hedging by wealthier households deepens the recession and amplifies the negative spillovers for poorer agents. When deposit dollarization is high, welfare gains can arise if monetary policy dampens a depreciation.
I document business cycle properties of the full cross-sectional distributions of U.S. stock returns and credit spreads from financial and nonfinancial firms. The skewness of returns of financial firms (SRF) best predicts economic activity, while being a barometer for lending conditions. SRF also affects firm-level investment beyond firms' balance sheets, and adverse SRF shocks lead to macroeconomic downturns with tighter lending conditions in vector autoregressions (VARs). These results are consistent with a lending channel in which cross-sectional financial firms' balance sheets play a prominent role in business cycles. I rationalize this argument with a model that matches the VAR evidence.
SRF monthly data (CSV) and SRF monthly data definitions (TXT) (Updated: Feburary 4, 2022)
SRF quarterly data (CSV) and SRF quarterly data definitions (TXT) (Updated: Feburary 4, 2022)
Keywords: Cross-sectional, skewness, business cycles, lending channel
Stablecoins have experienced tremendous growth in the past year, serving as a possible breakthrough innovation in the future of payments. In this paper, we discuss the current use cases and growth opportunities of stablecoins, and we analyze the potential for stablecoins to broadly impact the banking system. The impact of stablecoin adoption on traditional banking and credit provision can vary depending on the sources of inflow and the composition of stablecoin reserves. Among the various scenarios, a two-tiered banking system can both support stablecoin issuance and maintain traditional forms of credit creation. In contrast, a narrow bank approach for digital currencies can lead to disintermediation of traditional banking, but may provide the most stable peg to fiat currencies. Additionally, dollar-pegged stablecoins backed by adequately safe and liquid collateral can potentially serve as a digital safe haven currency during periods of crypto market distress.
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