Staff working papers in the International Finance and Discussion Papers (IFDP) series are primarily materials produced by staff in the Division of International Finance. These topics are focused on, though by no means limited to, international macroeconomics, international trade, global finance, financial institutions, and markets, as well as international capital flows

IFDP 2018-1232
Modeling Your Stress Away (PDF)

Abstract: We investigate systematic changes in banks' projected credit losses between the 2014 and 2016 EBA stress tests, employing methodology from Philippon et al. (2017). We find that projected credit losses were smoothed across the tests through systematic model adjustments. Those banks whose losses would have increased the most from 2014 to 2016 due to changes in the supervisory scenarios--keeping the models constant and controlling for changes in the riskiness of underlying portfolios--saw the largest decrease in losses due to model changes. Model changes were more pronounced for banks that rely more on the Internal Ratings-Based approach, and they explain the cross-section of market responses to the release of the 2016 results. Stock prices and CDS spreads increased more for banks with larger reductions in projected credit losses due to model changes, as investors apparently did not interpret lower loan losses as reflecting mainly a decrease in credit risk but, instead, as a sign of lower capital requirements going forward.

Keywords: Stress tests, financial institutions, regulation, credit risk models


IFDP 2018-1231
Home Country Interest Rates and International Investment in U.S. Bonds (PDF)

John Ammer, Stijn Claessens, Alexandra Tabova, and Caleb Wroblewski

Abstract: We analyze how interest rates affect cross-border portfolio investments. Data on U.S. bond holdings by foreign investors from 31 countries for the period 2003 - 2016 and a large variety in movements in interest rates in these countries provide for a unique way to analyze shifts in investment behavior in response to interest rates. We find that low(er) interest rates, now prevailing in many advanced countries, lead to greater investment in general into the United States, with the effects generally driven by investment in (higher yielding) corporate bonds, rather than in Treasury bonds. In addition to affecting overall investments, lower interest rates at home are associated with a greater weight on corporate bonds, consistent with search-for-yield. The results are economically important and robust to controlling for a number of country-specific macroeconomic and financial conditions as well as to sample restrictions and choices of interest rate. Our findings have important policy implications in that they suggest that low interest rates can lead to shifts in the volume and composition of overseas investments.

Keywords: Low interest rates, search-for-yield, portfolio choice, safe and risky assets, U.S. bonds


IFDP 2018-1230
Innovation and Trade Policy in a Globalized World (PDF)

Ufuk Akcgit, Sina T. Ates, and Giammario Impullitti

Abstract: How do import tariffs and R&D subsidies help domestic firms compete globally? How do these policies affect aggregate growth and economic welfare? To answer these questions, we build a dynamic general equilibrium growth model where firm innovation endogenously determines the dynamics of technology, market leadership, and trade flows, in a world with two large open economies at different stages of development. Firms' R&D decisions are driven by (i) the defensive innovation motive, (ii) the expansionary innovation motive, and (iii) technology spillovers. The theoretical investigation illustrates that, statically, globalization (defined as reduced trade barriers) has ambiguous effects on welfare, while, dynamically, intensified globalization boosts domestic innovation through induced international competition. Accounting for transitional dynamics, we use our model for policy evaluation and compute optimal policies over different time horizons. The model suggests that the introduction of the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit in 1981 proves to be an effective policy response to foreign competition, generating substantial welfare gains in the long run. A counterfactual exercise shows that increasing tariffs as an alternative policy response improves domestic welfare only when the policymaker cares about the very short run, and only when introduced unilaterally. Tariffs generate large welfare losses in the medium and long run, or when there is retaliation by the foreign economy. Protectionist measures generate large dynamic losses by distorting the impact of openness on innovation incentives and productivity growth. Finally, our model predicts that a more globalized world entails less government intervention, thanks to innovation-stimulating effects of intensified international competition.

Keywords: Economic growth, short- and long-run gains from globalization, foreign technological catching-up, innovation policy, trade policy, competition.


IFDP 2018-1229
A Tale of Two Sectors: Why is Misallocation Higher in Services than in Manufacturing? (PDF)

Daniel A. Dias, Carlos Robalo Marques, and Christine Richmond

Abstract: Recent empirical studies document that the level of resource misallocation in the service sector is significantly higher than in the manufacturing sector. We quantify the importance of this difference and study its sources. Conservative estimates for Portugal (2008) show that closing this gap, by reducing misallocation in the service sector to manufacturing levels, would boost aggregate gross output by around 12 percent and aggregate value added by around 31 percent. Differences in the effect and size of productivity shocks explain most of the gap in misallocation between manufacturing and services, while the remainder is explained by differences in firm productivity and age distribution. We interpret these results as stemming mainly from higher output-price rigidity, higher labor adjustment costs, and higher informality in the service sector.

Keywords: Misallocation, productivity, firm-level data, structural transformation, Gelbach decomposition.


IFDP 2018-1228
Financial Institutions' Business Models and the Global Transmission of Monetary Policy (PDF)

Isabel Argimon, Clemens Bonner, Ricardo Correa, Patty Duijm, Jon Frost, Jakob de Haan, Leo de Haan, and Viktors Stebunovs

Appendix (PDF)

Abstract: Global financial institutions play an important role in channeling funds across countries and, therefore, transmitting monetary policy from one country to another. In this paper, we study whether such international transmission depends on financial institutions' business models. In particular, we use Dutch, Spanish, and U.S. confidential supervisory data to test whether the transmission operates differently through banks, insurance companies, and pension funds. We find marked heterogeneity in the transmission of monetary policy across the three types of institutions, across the three banking systems, and across banks within each banking system. While insurance companies and pension funds do not transmit home-country monetary policy internationally, banks do, with the direction and strength of the transmission determined by their business models and balance sheet characteristics.

Keywords: Monetary policy transmission, global financial institutions, bank lending channel, portfolio channel, business models.


IFDP 2018-1227
Foreign Effects of Higher U.S. Interest Rates (PDF)

Abstract: This paper analyzes the spillovers of higher U.S. interest rates on economic activity in a large panel of 50 advanced and emerging economies. We allow the response of GDP in each country to vary according to its exchange rate regime, trade openness, and a vulnerability index that includes current account, foreign reserves, inflation, and external debt. We document large heterogeneity in the response of advanced and emerging economies to U.S. interest rate surprises. In response to a U.S. monetary tightening, GDP in foreign economies drops about as much as it does in the United States, with a larger decline in emerging economies than in advanced economies. In advanced economies, trade openness with the United States and the exchange rate regime account for a large portion of the contraction in activity. In emerging economies, the responses do not depend on the exchange rate regime or trade openness, but are larger when vulnerability is high.

Keywords: U.S. Monetary Policy; Foreign Spillovers; Local Projection; Macroeconomic Transmission; Panel Data.


IFDP 2018-1226
Measuring Monetary Policy Spillovers between U.S. and German Bond Yields (PDF)

Abstract: In this paper we estimate the magnitude of spillovers between bond markets in the U.S. and Germany following monetary policy communications by the FOMC and the ECB. The identification of policy-related co-movements following FOMC announcements, in particular, can be difficult because many foreign bond markets, including those in Germany, are closed at the time of the announcement. To address this issue we use intraday futures market data to estimate spillovers during a narrow and overlapping event window. We find that about half of the reaction in German domestic yields spills over to U.S. yields following ECB announcements, which is nearly identical to the spillover from U.S. yields to German Bund yields following FOMC announcements. This result contrasts with the conventional wisdom that FOMC announcements spill over to other countries but that there is not much effect in the other direction. We also find that spillover estimates are slightly higher in the post-crisis period, but that there is little difference in the spillover impact
of conventional versus unconventional monetary policy. Our results based on futures prices differ noticeably from those using daily prices, which suggests that spillover estimates based on cash market data can be misleading.

Keywords: Monetary policy, quantitative easing, interest rate differentials


IFDP 2018-1225
Structural Change and Global Trade (PDF)

Logan T. Lewis, Ryan Monarch, Michael Sposi, and Jing Zhang

Abstract: Services, which are less traded than goods, rose from 50 percent of world expenditure in 1970 to 80 percent in 2015. Such structural change restrained "openness"--the ratio of world trade to world GDP--over this period. We quantify this with a general equilibrium trade model featuring non-homothetic preferences and input-output linkages. Openness would have been 70 percent in 2015, 23 percentage points higher than the data, if expenditure patterns were unchanged from 1970. Structural change is critical for estimating the dynamics of trade barriers and welfare gains from trade. Ongoing structural change implies declining openness, even absent rising protectionism.

Keywords: Globalization, Structural Change, International Trade


IFDP 2018-1224
Searching for Yield Abroad: Risk-Taking Through Foreign Investment in U.S. Bonds (PDF)

John Ammer, Stijn Claessens, Alexandra Tabova, and Caleb Wroblewski

Abstract: The risk-taking effects of low interest rates, now prevailing in many advanced countries, "search-for-yield," can be hard to analyze due to both a paucity of data and challenges in identification. Unique, security-level data on portfolio investment into the United States allow us to overcome both problems. Analyzing holdings of investors from 36 countries in close to 15,000 unique U.S. corporate bonds between 2003 and 2016, we show that declining home-country interest rates lead investors to shift their portfolios toward riskier U.S. corporate bonds, consistent with "search-for-yield". We estimate even stronger effects when home interest rates reach a low level, suggesting that risk-taking further accelerates.

Keywords: low interest rates, risk-taking, search for yield, portfolio choice, corporate debt, United States


IFDP 2018-1223
Stock Market Cross-Sectional Skewness and Business Cycle Fluctuations (PDF)

Abstract: Using U.S. data from 1926 to 2015, I show that financial skewness--a measure comparing cross-sectional upside and downside risks of the distribution of stock market returns of financial firms--is a powerful predictor of business cycle fluctuations. I then show that shocks to financial skewness are important drivers of business cycles, identifying these shocks using both vector autoregressions and a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model. Financial skewness appears to reflect the exposure of financial firms to the economic performance of their borrowers.

Keywords: Cross-Sectional Skewness, Business Cycle Fluctuations, Financial Channel


IFDP 2018-1222
Measuring Geopolitical Risk (PDF)

Abstract: We present a monthly indicator of geopolitical risk based on a tally of newspaper articles covering geopolitical tensions, and examine its evolution and effects since 1985. The geopolitical risk (GPR) index spikes around the Gulf War, after 9/11, during the 2003 Iraq invasion, during the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis, and after the Paris terrorist attacks. High geopolitical risk leads to a decline in real activity, lower stock returns, and movements in capital flows away from emerging economies and towards advanced economies. When we decompose the index into threats and acts components, the adverse effects of geopolitical risk are mostly driven by the threat of adverse geopolitical events. Extending our index back to 1900, geopolitical risk rose dramatically during the World War I and World War II, was elevated in the early 1980s, and has drifted upward since the beginning of the 21st century.

Keywords: Geopolitical Risk; Economic Uncertainty; War; Terrorism; Business Cycles


IFDP 2018-1221
Does Smooth Ambiguity Matter for Asset Pricing? (PDF)

A. Ronald Gallant, Mohammad R. Jahan-Parvar, and Hening Liu

Abstract: We use the Bayesian method introduced by Gallant and McCulloch (2009) to estimate consumption-based asset pricing models featuring smooth ambiguity preferences. We rely on semi-nonparametric estimation of a flexible auxiliary model in our structural estimation. Based on the market and aggregate consumption data, our estimation provides statistical support for asset pricing models with smooth ambiguity. Statistical model comparison shows that models with ambiguity, learning and time-varying volatility are preferred to the long-run risk model. We analyze asset pricing implications of the estimated models.

Keywords: Ambiguity, Bayesian estimation, equity premium, Markov-switching, long-run risk


IFDP 2018-1220
Estimating Unequal Gains across U.S. Consumers with Supplier Trade Data (PDF)

Abstract: Using supplier-level trade data, we estimate the effect on consumer welfare from changes in U.S. imports both in the aggregate and for different household income groups from 1998 to 2014. To do this, we use consumer preferences which feature non-homotheticity both within sectors and across sectors. After structurally estimating the parameters of the model, using the universe of U.S. goods imports, we construct import price indexes in which a variety is defined as a foreign establishment producing an HS10 product that is exported to the United States. We find that lower income households experienced the most import price inflation, while higher income households experienced the least import price inflation during our time period. Thus, we do not find evidence that the consumption channel has mitigated the distributional effects of trade that have occurred through the nominal income channel in the United States over the past two decades.

Keywords: import price index, non-homotheticity, real income inequality, product variety, markups


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Last Update: January 17, 2018