Economists have long understood that policy chosen by politics is unlikely to be socially optimal. This is because politicians face the probability of losing power and may discount the future too much, or act to improve their re-election probability. This column explores these issues taking into account the fact that future government revenue is uncertain. Public income volatility acts to reduce the efficiency of public policy. This has important implications for developing countries that rely on income from volatile sources, such as natural resource extraction.
James A Robinson, Ragnar Torvik, Thierry Verdier, Monday, July 27, 2015
Ashoka Mody, Antu Panini Murshid, Sunday, November 27, 2011
Recent commentary has suggested that capital inflows – long considered a positive for growth – may actually be doing more harm than good. This column presents new evidence reinforcing the conventional interpretation. It finds that volatility is the determining factor. With volatility below a threshold, an inflow of foreign capital promotes growth. But during periods of volatile growth, the effect is opposite.
Alexander Popov, Frank Smets, Thursday, November 3, 2011
Well-developed financial systems play a crucial role in stimulating growth but are associated with more frequent financial shocks and higher macroeconomic risk, as the financial crisis of 2007–09 reminded us. This column argues that the goal of financial regulation must be to reduce systemic risk without eliminating the financial sector’s contribution to long-term economic growth.
Lukas Menkhoff, Lucio Sarno, Maik Schmeling, Andreas Schrimpf, Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The carry trade – borrowing in currencies with low interest rates and investing in currencies with high interest rates – has been a surprising hit for decades. This column provides empirical evidence suggesting that the mysteriously high returns this generates can actually be explained as compensation for the volatility risk undertaken.
Mona Haddad, Jamus Lim, Christian Saborowski, Sunday, March 21, 2010
Does openness increase volatility? This column argues that it doesn’t when countries are sufficiently diversified. These results amount to a powerful argument in favour of export differentiation policies as a means of deriving larger benefits from trade openness and shielding against global shocks.
Olivier Blanchard, Marianna Riggi, Monday, December 7, 2009
In the 1970s, large increases in the price of oil were associated with sharp decreases in output and large increases in inflation. In the 2000s, even larger increases in the price of oil were associated with much milder movements. This column attributes the difference in the US to more flexible labour markets and more credible monetary policy during the Great Moderation.
David Cuberes, Michal Jerzmanowski, Saturday, August 15, 2009
What explains developing countries’ greater economic volatility? This column documents the relationship between democracy and growth reversals. It argues that greater democracy, not higher income, is responsible for dampening economic volatility. Greater democratisation and economic diversification would reduce both dramatic declines and growth accelerations.
Rebecca Hellerstein, Cédric Tille, Thursday, August 21, 2008
Financial globalisation has made current account balances more sensitive to volatile variables like asset prices and interest rates. This column says that greater current account volatility may be good news if it comes in the form of countercyclical risk sharing.
Pasquale Della Corte, Lucio Sarno, Ilias Tsiakas, Friday, January 18, 2008
The forward premium, the difference between the forward exchange rate and the spot exchange rate, contains economically valuable information about the future of exchange rates. Here is the evidence that it can help predict short-run rates and that investors who ignore it and use random walk models may be leaving money on the table.
Roger W. Ferguson. Jr., Philipp Hartmann, Fabio Panetta, Richard Portes, Thursday, November 15, 2007
The ninth CEPR/ICMB Geneva Report on the World Economy examines the main threats to international financial stability, focusing on the implications of the major changes that have occurred in the global financial system in the past two decades.
Richard Portes, Thursday, November 15, 2007
The global financial system shows signs of stress – turmoil, not a systemic financial crisis. Risk is being repriced and the unwinding will take some time. Now is the time to think carefully about longer-term reforms needed to improve the stability of the international financial system.