‘Leaning against the wind’: exchange rate intervention in emerging markets works
Christian Daude, Eduardo Levy Yeyati 01 September 2014
Central banks’ exchange rate interventions are typically attributed to precautionary, prudential, or mercantilist motives. This column documents the prevalence of an alternative motive – that of stabilising the exchange rate – in emerging markets, where, despite heavy intervention, the Global Crisis saw important deviations of the real exchange rate from its equilibrium value. Exchange rate intervention is shown to be effective, but more so at containing appreciations than depreciations.
The economic debate has typically downplayed the exchange rate-smoothing nature of central bank foreign exchange intervention, attributing it to precautionary or prudential motives, or to the goal of keeping the exchange rate undervalued for mercantilist reasons.
Exchange rates Monetary policy
Central Banks, exchange rates, exchange rate smoothing, emerging markets, Leaning against the wind
Why leaning against the wind is the wrong monetary policy for Sweden
Lars E.O. Svensson 05 July 2014
Sweden has pursued a tighter monetary policy than is necessary to achieve the inflation target in order to reduce risks associated with household indebtedness. The net benefit to ‘leaning against the wind’ has been hotly debated; this column argues strongly against it. By reducing inflation, the Riksbank has in fact increased household debt, and contractionary pressure has worsened the employment situation. The author estimates that the benefits to leaning are worth only 0.4% of the costs.
There is a lively ongoing debate about whether raising interest rates beyond the level needed to stabilise prices – ‘leaning against the wind’ – is a justified modification of flexible inflation targeting (as discussed in Smets 2013). In a new paper, I explain why leaning against the wind is the wrong monetary policy for Sweden (Svensson 2014).
Leaning against the wind, Riksbank, lean vs clean
Managing credit bubbles
Alberto Martin, Jaume Ventura 05 July 2014
There is a widespread view among macroeconomists that fluctuations in collateral are an important driver of credit booms and busts. This column distinguishes between ‘fundamental’ collateral – backed by expectations of future profits – and ‘bubbly’ collateral – backed by expectations of future credit. Markets are generically unable to provide the optimal amount of bubbly collateral, which creates a natural role for stabilisation policies. A lender of last resort with the ability to tax and subsidise credit can design a ‘leaning against the wind’ policy that replicates the ‘optimal’ bubble allocation.
Credit markets play an increasingly central role in modern economies. Within the OECD, for instance, domestic credit has risen from 100% of GDP in 1970 to approximately 160% of GDP in 2012 (as measured by the Bank for International Settlements). To be sure, this growth masks large variations across countries and over time, but there is a common feature to all these different country experiences that stands out. Credit has often alternated between ‘booms’ – periods of rapid growth – and ‘busts’ – periods of stagnation or significant decline.
Financial markets Macroeconomic policy
credit booms, lender of last resort, bubbles, credit, Leaning against the wind, collateral, financial accelerator
‘Leaning against the wind’, debt deflation, and the Riksbank
Lars E.O. Svensson 10 October 2013
Leaning-against-the-wind monetary policy may lead to a Fisherian debt deflation, since it may lower prices below the anticipated level and therefore raise real debt above what was anticipated. This is what the Riksbank has done by keeping average inflation significantly below the inflation target for a long period. This has caused household real debt to be substantially higher than it would have been if inflation had been on target.
A dangerous thing concerning debt is what Irving Fisher (1933) called ”debt deflation.” It is usually described as deflation causing the real value of nominal debt to increase. Loan-to-value and loan-to-income ratios also increase, since the debt is fixed in nominal terms but the nominal value of assets and income fall. This may hurt the economy through bankruptcies, deleveraging, and fire sales.
Leaning against the wind, Riksbank, debt deflation
Monetary policy and excessive bank risk taking
Itai Agur, Maria Demertzis 13 January 2011
What institutions should be responsible for financial stability? Do governments need distinct regulators for distinct objectives or should central banks pursue both price stability and financial stability? This column argues that monetary policy inevitably will involve considerations of financial stability due to its effects on banks' risk taking and says that central banks should embrace this dual role.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors only, and do not reflect the views of De Nederlandsche Bank or of its Board.
financial stability, Leaning against the wind