Financial markets

[field_auth], 27 July 2016

In recent years, the life insurance sector has become more systemically important across advanced economies. This increase is largely due to growing common exposures and to insurers’ rising interest rate sensitivity. This column analyses the evolution of the insurance sector’s contribution to systemic risk. Overall, life insurers do not seem to have markedly changed their asset portfolios toward riskier assets, although smaller and weaker insurers in some countries have taken on more risk. The findings suggest that supervisors and regulators should take a more macroprudential approach to the sector.

[field_auth], 22 July 2016

The secular stagnation hypothesis suggests that low interest rates may be the new normal in years to come. This column argues that this prospect should not only lead to a major rethinking of policy from the perspective of individual economies, but also a major rethinking about monetary and fiscal policy in the international context, the role of international capital flows, and the role of policy coordination across borders. In times of secular stagnation, events such as Brexit or the recent turbulence in Turkey have much larger spillover effects than under normal circumstances.

[field_auth], 19 July 2016

The zero lower bound policy for nominal interest rates was implemented to stimulate sluggish economic growth and boost employment. This column explores whether this policy had unintended effects on the money market fund industry. Traditionally enjoying relatively low and safe returns, money market funds could respond to the low interest rate environment by either exiting the market or changing product offerings and accepting higher portfolio risk. The results show evidence of both, and point to an important but neglected channel for monetary policy transmission.

[field_auth], 13 July 2016

Since the Global Crisis, sovereign debt levels have exploded in many OECD countries.  This column presents a new measure of government debt – maximum sustainable debt. This measure takes account of the fact that a shortfall in growth naturally increases the probability of default, while allowing for the possibility of rollover. Applications to recent data suggest that without sufficient institutional constraints, governments will generally borrow up to a level close to the maximum that can be sustained.

[field_auth], 04 July 2016

The surprise outcome of the UK’s EU membership referendum is in some ways analogous to the ‘Taper Tantrum’ (the correction in financial markets following Ben Bernanke’s May 2013 suggestion that the US central bank was contemplating reducing its rate of security purchases). This column looks at whether the Brexit Surprise has had analogous effects on emerging markets. Emerging economies felt a strong negative impact that was larger and more widespread than in the case of the Taper Tantrum. Where the Taper Tantrum was mainly a financial shock, the Brexit Surprise is evidently perceived as having real as well as financial consequences.

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