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 2018-1223
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