Global economy

Friederike Niepmann, Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, 11 June 2016

To mitigate the risks of international trade for firms, banks offer trade finance products – specifically, letters of credit and documentary collections. This column exploits new data from the SWIFT Institute to establish key facts on the use of these instruments in world trade. Letters of credit (documentary collections) cover 12.5% (1.7%) of world trade, or $2.3 trillion ($310 billion). 

Jon Danielsson, Morgane Fouché, Robert Macrae, 10 June 2016

The threat to the financial system posed by cyber risk is often claimed to be systemic. This column argues against this, pointing out that almost all cyber risk is microprudential. For a cyber attack to lead to a systemic crisis, it would need to be timed impeccably to coincide with other non-cyber events that undermine confidence in the financial system and the authorities. The only actors with enough resources to affect such an event are large sovereign states, and they could likely create the required uncertainty through simpler, financial means. 

Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 07 June 2016

There is a high degree of correlation between the business cycles of different countries. This is particularly the case in the Eurozone, but also among industrialised countries outside of the Eurozone. Using a two-country behavioural macroeconomic model, this column shows that the main channel for the synchronisation of business cycles is the propagation of ‘animal spirits’ – waves of optimism and pessimism that become correlated internationally. 

Alexander Bick, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, David Lagakos , 04 June 2016

The development accounting literature tries to account for cross-country output per worker differences by taking stock of inputs per worker. The data employed are often measured without great precision, however, making comparisons difficult. This column presents a new, internationally comparable dataset of average hours worked per adult across the world income distribution. Adults in poor countries are found to work a lot more and with lower productivity than those in rich countries. The findings suggest that those from poorer countries are not only ‘consumption poor’, but also ‘leisure poor’. 

Moreno Bertoldi, Paolo Pesenti, Hélène Rey, Valérie Rouxel-Laxton, 03 June 2016

The issue of whether the US and Eurozone economies are on a convergent or a divergent path remains an open question, and was the topic of a recent conference hosted by the New York Fed. This column summarises the principal themes and findings of the conference discussion. Much will depend on the policy actions that will be taken in the coming years, as well as the modalities and timing of the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union.

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