Turmoil in emerging markets: What’s missing from the story?
Kristin Forbes, 5 February 2014
The Federal Reserve’s ‘taper talk’ in spring 2013 has been blamed for outflows of capital from emerging markets. This column argues that global growth prospects and uncertainty are more important drivers of emerging-market capital flows than US monetary policy. Although crises can affect very different countries simultaneously, over time investors begin to discriminate between countries according to their fundamentals. Domestic investors play an increasingly important – and potentially stabilising – role. During a financial crisis, ‘retrenchment’ by domestic investors can offset foreign investors’ withdrawals of capital.
Emerging markets are going through another period of volatility – and the most popular boogeyman is the US Federal Reserve.
Topics: International finance
Tags: capital flows, emerging markets, Federal Reserve, global financial crisis, tapering
Unconventional monetary policy normalisation and emerging-market capital flows
Andrew Burns, Mizuho Kida, Jamus Lim, Sanket Mohapatra, Marc Stocker, 21 January 2014
The Federal Reserve has begun to ‘taper’ its programme of quantitative easing. The ‘taper tantrum’ that followed the announcement of tapering in May 2013 suggests that the normalisation of rich countries’ unconventional monetary policies may lead to capital outflows and currency depreciations in emerging markets. This column presents the results of recent World Bank research into these effects. In the baseline scenario, the unwinding of QE is predicted to reduce capital inflows by about 10%, or 0.6% of developing-country GDP by 2016. However, if markets react abruptly, capital flows could decline by as much as 80% for several months.
Quantitative easing (QE), which started in 2008, swelled the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet to an unprecedented $3.4 trillion. In May 2013, the Fed announced that it would evaluate the possibility of a reversal of its unconventional monetary policies – QE in particular .
Topics: Financial markets, International finance, Monetary policy
Tags: Federal Reserve, quantitative easing, tapering, unconventional monetary policy
Tapering talk: The impact of expectations of reduced Federal Reserve security purchases on emerging markets
Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta, 19 December 2013
Fed tapering has started. A revival of last summer’s emerging economy turmoil is a real concern. This column discusses new research into who was hit and why by the June 2013 taper-talk shock. Those hit hardest had relatively large and liquid financial markets, and had allowed large rises in their currency values and their trade deficits. Good macro fundamentals did not provide much insulation, nor did capital controls. The best insulation came from macroprudential policies that limited exchange rate appreciation and trade deficit widening in response to foreign capital inflows.
In May 2013, Federal Reserve officials first began to talk of the possibility of the US central bank tapering its securities purchases from $85 billion a month to something lower. A milestone to which many observers point is 22 May 2013, when Chairman Bernanke raised the possibility of tapering in his testimony to Congress.
Topics: Exchange rates, Monetary policy
Tags: capital controls, Capital inflows, currency war, emerging markets, exchange rates, Federal Reserve, Macroprudential policies, monetary policy, tapering
Dark side of housing-price appreciation
Indraneel Chakraborty, Itay Goldstein, Andrew MacKinlay, 25 November 2013
Higher asset prices increase the value of firms’ collateral, strengthen banks’ balance sheets, and increase households’ wealth. These considerations perhaps motivated the Federal Reserve’s intervention to support the housing market. However, higher housing prices may also lead banks to reallocate their portfolios from commercial and industrial loans to real-estate loans. This column presents the first evidence on this crowding-out effect. When housing prices increase, banks on average reduce commercial lending and increase interest rates, leading related firms to cut back on investment.
Policymakers around the world often worry about decreases in real-estate prices and other asset prices, and take measures to prevent them. For example, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has engaged in large-scale asset purchases – especially of mortgage-backed assets – to support the housing market and, in turn, the overall economy.
Topics: Financial markets, Monetary policy
Tags: asset prices, banks, Federal Reserve, housing, investment, lending, real estate
Forward policy guidance at the Federal Reserve
John C. Williams, 16 October 2013
The Federal Open Market Committee has used various forms of forward guidance to influence the views of businesses, investors and households about where monetary policy is likely to be headed. This column by the President of the San Francisco Fed presents his views on the benefits, limitations and future role of forward policy guidance.
In response to the financial crisis, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) lowered the target federal funds rate to essentially zero in December 2008, where it has remained.
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: Federal Reserve, forward guidance
Unwinding quantitative easing
Stephen Grenville, 22 June 2013
Chairman Bernanke’s hints about the end of quantitative easing (QE) have produced volatility in financial markets. This column argues that financial markets were startled because an end to QE is likely to cause capital losses for bond holders since term premium is substantially negative. Bank regulators should be alert to the possibility. This fundamental explanation is teamed with widespread confusion among market participants about how quantitative easing actually works.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s prepared statement on 22 May was the epitome of even-handed non-committal drafting (Federal Reserve 2013b) but the mention of "stepping down" and "in the next few meetings" in the discussion sent a shiver through financial markets worldwide.
Topics: Global crisis, International finance
Tags: Bernanke, Federal Reserve, QE
Is the Federal Reserve breeding the next financial crisis?
Ambrogio Cesa-Bianchi, Alessandro Rebucci, 11 April 2013
Many economists think that the US Federal Reserve’s loose monetary stance in the 2000s fuelled the US housing bubble. Is the Fed thus responsible for the Global Crisis? This column discusses evidence suggesting that monetary policy was, in fact, not to blame. Rather, it was the absence of an effective regulatory function that created the mess we’re in now. It is not fair to blame the Great Recession only on the Fed’s monetary-policy stance nor is the Fed now breeding the next US financial crisis.
According to many economists, monetary policy played a central role in exacerbating the severity of the global financial crisis of 2007-09.
Topics: Global crisis
Tags: Federal Reserve, financial crisis
The influence of the Taylor rule on US monetary policy
Pelin Ilbas, Øistein Røisland, Tommy Sveen, 13 February 2013
Economists everywhere recognise the Taylor rule’s importance in monetary policymakers’ decisions. But exactly how important is it? This column aims to analyse the Taylor rule’s influence on US monetary policy by estimating the policy preferences of the Fed. There is a high degree of reluctance to let the interest rate deviate from the Taylor rule and, contrary to the literature and current policy debates, it seems large deviations from the Taylor rule between 2001 and 2006 were in fact due to negative demand-side shocks. During this period, there is in fact no evidence to support the notion of a decreased weight on the Taylor rule.
The Taylor rule has undoubtedly influenced the debate about monetary policy over the last 20 years. But has it directly influenced monetary policy? According to a survey by Kahn (2012), the answer seems to be that it has. The transcripts from the Federal Open Market Committee meetings include several references to the rule.
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: Fed, Federal Reserve, Taylor rule, US
Misplaced concerns about central-bank independence
Marco Annunziata, 12 February 2013
Economists and policymakers are increasingly concerned that central-bank independence is being threatened. This column argues that central banks are not losing their independence, but that their room for manoeuvre is being eroded by a lack of structural reforms and fiscal adjustment. The financial crisis has caused mission creep, pushing central banks well beyond their comfort zones and as the time comes to pull back, independent monetary policy could still be powerless against fiscal dominance.
Concerns are rising that central-bank independence is at risk, already curtailed by governments eager to control all other levers of growth. The Japanese government’s none-too-subtle strong-arming of the Bank of Japan is one of the most blatant examples (e.g. King 2013).
But the current debate on the risks to central-bank independence misses the point.
Topics: Institutions and economics, Monetary policy
Tags: Central Banks, ECB, Fed, Federal Reserve, fiscal policy, independence
Monetary alchemy, fiscal science
Jeffrey Frankel, 29 January 2013
2013 marks the 100th anniversary of US federal income tax and the establishment of the Federal Reserve. What lessons have we learnt about macroeconomic policy since then? This column assesses the postwar lessons and argues that fiscal expansion is much more likely to be effective in the short term than any monetary expansion stimulus. Indeed, compared with fiscal policy, monetary policy seems more alchemy than science.
The year 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of two major institutional innovations in US economic policy:
Topics: Global crisis, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: Federal Reserve, fiscal policy, Great Depression, Keynes, monetary policy