Plunging oil prices affect everyone, albeit no two countries will experience it in the same way. In this column, the IMF’s Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard and Senior Economist Rabah Arezki examine the causes as well as the consequences for various groups of countries and for financial stability more broadly. The analysis has important implications for how policymakers should address the impact on their economies.
Rabah Arezki, Olivier Blanchard, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Alan Moreira, Alexi Savov, Tuesday, September 16, 2014
The prevailing view of shadow banking is that it is all about regulatory arbitrage – evading capital requirements and exploiting ‘too big to fail’. This column focuses instead on the tradeoff between economic growth and financial stability. Shadow banking transforms risky, illiquid assets into securities that are – in good times, at least – treated like money. This alleviates the shortage of safe assets, thereby stimulating growth. However, this process builds up fragility, and can exacerbate the depth of the bust when the liquidity of shadow banking securities evaporates.
James Boughton, Monday, September 15, 2014
The international financial system is not working fine and reforms of regional and global institutions are much needed. This column discusses some of the transformations that the IMF could implement in order to keep pace with the changes in the world economy. One problem for the credibility of the IMF is the G20 in its current design and organisation. Institutional reforms, however, should be combined with advances in economic policy in order to promote economic growth and financial stability.
Jussi Keppo, Josef Korte, Sunday, September 7, 2014
Four years ago, the Volcker Rule was codified as part of the Dodd–Frank Act in an attempt to separate allegedly risky trading activities from commercial banking. This column presents new evidence finding that those banks most affected by the Volcker Rule have indeed reduced their trading books much more than others. However, there are no corresponding effects on risk-taking – if anything, affected banks take more risks and use their trading accounts less for hedging.
Gaston Gelos, Hiroko Oura, Saturday, August 23, 2014
The landscape of portfolio investment in emerging markets has evolved considerably over the past 15 years. Financial markets have deepened and become more internationally integrated. The mix of global investors has also changed, with more money intermediated by mutual funds. This column explains that these changes have made capital flows and asset prices in these economies more sensitive to global financial shocks. However, broad-based financial deepening and improved institutions can enhance the resilience of emerging-market economies.
Linda Goldberg, Signe Krogstrup, John Lipsky, Hélène Rey, Saturday, July 26, 2014
The dollar’s dominant role in international trade and finance has proved remarkably resilient. This column argues that financial stability – and the policy and institutional frameworks that underpin it – are important new determinants of currencies’ international roles. While old drivers still matter, progress achieved on financial-stability reforms in major currency areas will greatly influence the future roles of their currencies.
Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, Sunday, July 27, 2014
The monetary policies implemented by the Federal Reserve since late 2008 have raised concerns about the risk taking of financial institutions. This column discusses the effect of some of these policies on life insurance companies and market mutual funds. While the effect on life insurance companies has been stabilising, money market funds did not actively reach for yield.
Markus K Brunnermeier, Yuliy Sannikov, Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Eurozone monetary policy transmission is broken. A key aspect of this is the failure of credit to get to small and medium enterprises, and consumers. This column uses the ‘I theory of money’ to diagnosis the problem and propose ‘prudently designed’ asset-backed securitisation as the cure. This would transform illiquid SME and consumer loans into a liquid asset class that would broaden the transmission mechanism while providing a lasting intermediation market for this segment in the Eurozone.
Mark Mink, Jakob de Haan, Saturday, May 24, 2014
To date, much uncertainty exists about how large the spillovers would be from the default of a systemically important bank. This column shows evidence that the market values of US and EU banks hardly respond to changes in the default risk of banks that the Financial Stability Board considers globally systemically important (G-SIBs). However, changes in all G-SIBs’ default risk explain a substantial part of changes in bank market values. These findings have implications for financial-crisis management and prevention policies.
Dennis Reinhardt, Steven Riddiough, Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Cross-border funding between banks collapsed following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, but the withdrawal of funding was not uniform across countries. This column argues that the composition of cross-border bank-to-bank funding can help to explain why. Interbank funding between unrelated banks is particularly vulnerable to global shocks, but intragroup funding between related banks can act as a stabilising force, particularly for advanced economies with a high share of global parent banks. Policymakers should look at disaggregated cross-border bank-to-bank flows, as doing otherwise could result in a misleading assessment of financial stability risks.
Martin Brown, Stefan Trautmann, Razvan Vlahu, Thursday, April 10, 2014
Contagious bank runs are an important source of systemic risk. However, with observational data it is near-impossible to disentangle the contagion of bank runs from other potential causes of correlated deposit withdrawals across banks. This column discusses an experimental investigation of the mechanisms behind contagion. The authors find that panic-based deposit withdrawals can be strongly contagious across banks, but only if depositors know that the banks are economically related.
Rhiannon Sowerbutts, Ilknur Zer, Peter Zimmerman, Saturday, April 5, 2014
Inadequate disclosure by banks increased funding costs and contributed to the recent crisis. This column presents quantitative indices to measure progress of disclosure between banks and over time. Internationally, disclosure has improved since 2000. However, more information alone is not sufficient to solve the problem. More needs to be done to ensure that the information provided is useful to investors, and that investors are incentivised to use this information. The ongoing reform agenda aims to address this.
Willem Buiter, Monday, January 16, 2012
The global crisis inaugurated a new era for central banks in the advanced economies, when their conventional role as interest rate-setters and lenders and market makers of last resort expanded. Central banks have become the custodians of stability for financial markets – a role for which they lack both democratic accountability and political legitimacy, argues Willem Buiter in DP8780. He decries the new “perverse division of labour” between central banks and fiscal authorities and appeals for a reassessment of this pathological arrangement.
Iman van Lelyveld, Marco Spaltro, Thursday, October 27, 2011
The dissent brewing throughout Europe hinges on the question of whether the financial burdens of the Eurozone crisis should be shared between weak and strong. This column presents a new paper arguing that the wealthier, more stable economies don’t have much choice.
Barry Eichengreen, Eswar Prasad, Raghuram Rajan, Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Central banks have massively broadened their remit in recent crisis-laden years, but the standard analytic framework – ‘flexible inflation targeting’ – has not changed. This column argues that it is time to properly flesh out an alternative framework. Financial stability should be an explicit mandate of central banks, and international coordination among central banks should be boosted by forming a small group of systemically significant central banks that regularly meets and issues reports to the G20 on their financial-stability policies.
Itai Agur, Maria Demertzis, Thursday, January 13, 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.
Pierre Monnin, Terhi Jokipii, Thursday, October 7, 2010
Does banking sector instability damage the real economy? Or the other way round? This column presents data from 18 OECD countries between 1980 and 2008. It finds that banking sector stability appears to be an important driver of GDP growth in subsequent quarters. It argues that monetary policy should therefore pay more attention to banking sector soundness.
Ricardo Caballero, Thursday, January 14, 2010
Global imbalances have been suggested as the root cause of the global crisis. This column argues that another imbalance is the guilty party. The entire world had an insatiable demand for safe debt instruments that put an enormous pressure on the US financial system and its incentives. This structural problem can be alleviated if governments around the world explicitly absorb a larger share of the systemic risk.
Hyun Song Shin, Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Did securitisation disperse risks? This column argues that it undermined financial stability by concentrating risk. Securitisation allowed banks to leverage up in tranquil times while concentrating risks in the banking system by inducing banks and other financial intermediaries to buy each other’s securities with borrowed money.
Luigi Spaventa, Wednesday, January 28, 2009
To fix the world financial system, the G20 needs to look at some bold institutional reforms. The column suggests an international financial stability charter backed up by an new institution that could either be ‘light’ with a slim secretariat, or more elaborate WTO-style organisation.