Crises of confidence turn booms into busts. Bloated household balance sheets and high debt offer the right ingredients for a confidence-driven housing bust. This column develops an analytic framework that accommodates the potential role of confidence fluctuations as a source of uncertainty in the economy. Current debt levels are shown to determine the exposure to crises of confidence. The results point to a clear role for macroprudential policy in the prevention of such crises.
Thomas Hintermaier, Winfried Koeniger, 09 January 2016
Biagio Bossone, Marco Cattaneo, 04 January 2016
‘Helicopter tax credits’ have been proposed as a means of injecting new purchasing power into the economies of Eurozone Crisis countries. This column outlines one such system for Italy. The Tax Credit Certificate system is projected to accelerate Italy’s recovery over the next four years, and will likely be sustainable. It also provides a tool to avoid the breakup of the Eurosystem and its potentially disruptive consequences.
Ángel Ubide, 09 December 2015
The diversity of European economic cycles, economic structures, and political dynamics is a strength of the Eurozone. However, sustainable arrangements are required to distribute risks and ensure that all countries can use fiscal policy to cushion economic downturns. This column proposes the creation of a system of stability bonds for the Eurozone. These could be structured to minimise moral hazard, improve governance, and ensure that fiscal policy can support growth during the next recession.
Kevin Daly, Tim Munday, 28 November 2015
The fallout from the Global Crisis and its aftermath has been deeply damaging for European output. This column uses a growth accounting framework to explore the pre-Crisis and post-Crisis growth dynamics of several European countries. The weakness of post-Crisis real GDP in the Eurozone manifested itself in a decline in employment and average hours worked. However, decomposing growth for the Eurozone as a whole conceals significant differences across European countries, in both real GDP growth and its factor inputs.
Régis Barnichon, 12 November 2015
Many commentators have noted that the US has ridden out its post-crisis malaise rather skilfully, not least when it comes to reducing unemployment. This column argues that the US unemployment rate - despite being impressive, all things considered - still has substantial room to fall because desire to work among the non-employed is close to a record low.
Jon Danielsson, Marcela Valenzuela, Ilknur Zer, 02 October 2015
Does low volatility in financial markets mean that another financial crisis is more likely? And should we be worried when everything is OK? This column presents the first empirical results that find a strong validation of Minsky's hypothesis – obtained from 200 years of historical cross-sectional data – that low volatility increases the likelihood of a future financial crisis by increasing risk-taking.
Guido Tabellini, 07 September 2015
What are the main lessons to be drawn from the European financial crisis? This column argues that the Eurozone really is at a major cross-roads. Without a common fiscal policy, and without adequate institutions for aggregate demand management, European leaders have to constantly alter the rules. Currency risk will be the major concern of financial markets, much more than in the past, due to how Europe has dealt with the Greek crisis.
Sven Langedijk, Gaëtan Nicodème, Andrea Pagano, Alessandro Rossi, 04 July 2015
Strengthening the banking sector through higher equity capital is one of the key elements of policies aiming to reduce the probability of crises. However, the ‘corporate debt bias’ – the tendency of corporate tax systems to favour debt over equity – is at odds with this objective. This column estimates the benefits for financial stability of eliminating the corporate debt bias. Fully removing the debt bias is estimated to reduce potential public finance losses by between 25 and 55% for the six large EU countries sampled.
Peter Koudijs, Hans-Joachim Voth, 12 April 2014
Human behaviour in times of financial crises is difficult to understand, but critical to policymaking. This column discusses new evidence showing that personal experience in financial markets can dramatically change risk tolerance. A cleanly identified historical episode demonstrates that even without losses, negative shocks not only modify risk appetite, but can also create ‘leverage cycles’. These, in turn, have the potential to make markets extremely fragile. Remarkably, those who witnessed this episode but were not directly threatened by it, did not change their own behaviour. Thus, personal experience can be a powerful determinant of investors’ actions and can eventually affect aggregate instability.
Volker Wieland, Christos Koulovatianos, 01 November 2011
A stock-market collapse such as the one after the 2008 Lehman Brothers default is followed by more pessimistic assessments of the likelihood of future collapses in surveys and by lower price-dividend ratios. This column argues this reaction of expectations and asset prices can be explained by Bayesian decision theory. The key is to appreciate that market participants know little about the drivers of such crashes. They revise their beliefs and learn over time.
Andrew K Rose, Tomasz Wieladek, 23 May 2011
To what extent has financial nationalism changed banks' lending behaviour in the aftermath of the global crisis? The authors of CEPR DP8404 find much evidence that financial protectionism has morphed the lending practices of foreign banks in Britain since 2008. But--unexpectedly--they also find that British banks nationalised during the crisis changed their lending practices in no substantive way.
Carmen M Reinhart, Kenneth Rogoff, 28 March 2011
With public debt in the US higher than it's been since 1945 and private debt burgeoning, governments are panicking about the impact of debt overhang on growth. In CEPR DP8310, Reinhart and Rogoff argue that governments have increasingly resorted to undercover restructuring by using the tools of "financial repression" that characterized the Bretton Woods era. If states continue to ignore or distort their debt problems, the authors predict, their bond markets could become ever more repressed.
Simon J Evenett, 18 February 2010
The latest GTA report examines whether macroeconomic stabilisation has altered governments' resort to protectionism, with a focus on the Gulf Region.
Charles Wyplosz, 14 December 2009
Greece’s public debt is in turmoil. This column says that the country is nowhere near defaulting, but the Greek government should heed the financial markets’ warning and end three decades of fiscal profligacy. It suggests that Greece adopt immediate deep spending cuts and reform its budgetary process to credibly enforce discipline.
Jean-Pierre Chauffour, Thomas Farole, 05 September 2009
In April, G20 leaders agreed to massively support trade finance. Should international trade finance be a significant concern in current circumstances? This column cautions against overestimating the trade finance “gap”, yet highlights the possible rationales and conditions for an effective intervention in support of trade finance.
Guillermo Calvo, 31 August 2009
This column introduces "triple time-inconsistent" episodes. First, a public institution is expected to cave in and offer a bailout to prevent a crisis. Then, in an attempt to regain credibility, it pulls back. Finally, it resumes bailing out the survivors of the wreckage caused by the policy surprise. This column characterises the 1998 Russian crisis and the current crisis as triple time-inconsistency episodes and says that a financial crisis may simply be a bad time to try to build credibility.
Guillermo Calvo, Rudy Loo-Kung, 29 June 2009
The financial sector is prone to crises, which are typically associated with serious effects on output and employment. This column weighs the costs and benefits of financial deregulation that spurs temporarily high growth that then collapse and suggests that bubbles may be socially efficient.
Wei Liu, Yann Duval, 19 June 2009
The current crisis has drawn attention to the important role of trade finance in supporting international trade. This column argues that emerging market economies in Asia need to significantly develop and strengthen national trade finance institutions.
Francesco Daveri , 05 June 2009
The post-crisis data indicate that Italy is faring worse than the rest of Europe, except Germany. Moreover, the Italian economy entered a period of hardships and disappointing growth well before the mortgage crisis developed. This column argues that Italy cannot afford to postpone reforms if it wants to resume faster long-run growth.
Kimberly A. Elliott, 27 May 2009
The economic crisis is hitting the world’s poorest countries through falling trade and commodity prices. This column argues that the US should respond by further opening its market to exports from small, poor economies. That would not only provide an additional stimulus to those economies but also strengthen US global leadership, give a boost to the Doha Round, and serve broader US national interests by helping to promote political stability in some very shaky parts of the world.