Finance plays a key role in growth by connecting savers and investors, but it can also be a source of crises. This column discusses whether there has been enough finance to enable productive investments. UK non-financial companies appear to have enough internal funds to cover all their investment taken as a whole, but the evidence suggests that small firms face shortfalls. The column also pleads for the development of new and better data sources to help measure the supply of finance that can be used to exploit productive investment opportunities.
Saleem Bahaj, Iren Levina, Jumana Saleheen, 28 June 2016
The course will consider alternative macroeconomic frameworks with financial frictions to under-stand financial crisis, business cycles and public policy. There will be an brief historical overview of financial crises and basic financial accelerator models which emphasizes the interaction between borrowing constraint, asset price and aggregate production.
It will then be introduced liquidity constraint to examine the business cycles and monetary policy. Finally, the course will present financial intermediaries and government to study banking crisis, credit policy and macro prudential policy. By developing these frameworks, the training aims to understand the recent financial crisis and the roles of public policies.
Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Wensi Xie, 03 June 2016
There has been much research on the effects of banking crises, but corporate resilience to systemic crises is less well understood. This column uses data from 34 countries from 1990 to 2011 to analyse the role of social trust – societal expectations that people will behave honestly and cooperatively – in building corporate resilience. It finds that social trust facilitates access to trade credit, and dampens the harmful effects of crises on corporate profits and employment.
Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta, 13 May 2016
The recent reversal of capital flows to emerging markets has pointed to the continuing relevance of the sudden stop problem. This column analyses the sudden stops in capital flows to emerging markets since 1991. It shows that the frequency and duration of sudden stops have remained largely unchanged, but that global factors have become more important in their incidence. Stronger macroeconomic and financial frameworks have allowed policymakers to respond more flexibly, but these more flexible responses have not guaranteed insulation or significantly mitigated the impact.
Arna Olafsson, 23 March 2016
One of the many impacts of the Global Crisis was on stress levels, and these can be a risk factor for adverse birth outcomes. This column shows that exposure to the Crisis resulted in a significant reduction in the birth weight of babies in Iceland, comparable in size to the effect of smoking during pregnancy. The full costs of poor health at birth as a result of the Crisis will not materialise until the children exposed in utero become adults.
Adair Turner, 19 March 2016
Prior to the Global Crisis, modern macroeconomics largely ignored the details of the financial system, and favoured mathematical precision and elegance at the expense of realism. So argues Adair Turner in this Vox Talk. He also explains the key arguments in his book, ‘Between Debt and the Devil: Money, Credit and Fixing Global Finance’: that most credit is not needed for economic growth but rather drives real estate booms and busts; and that sometimes it’s better to print your way out of financial crises.
Timotej Homar, Sweder Van Wijnbergen, 13 February 2016
It has been claimed that recessions as a result of a financial crisis tend to last longer than normal recessions. This column asks whether early intervention to help distressed banks during financial crises is effective in mitigating the consequences of financial distress. The evidence suggests that decisive and early recapitalisation of banks can shorten recessions by several years and help speed up recovery.
Thibaut Duprey, Benjamin Klaus, Tuomas Peltonen, 14 January 2016
It is widely agreed that the Global Crisis qualifies as a period of ‘systemic’ financial stress. However, identifying and classifying other similar periods is challenging. This column presents a new framework for a transparent and objective identification of systemic financial stress episodes, beyond the expert-selected stress events available so far. The approach is applied to 27 EU countries to successfully identify episodes of financial stress.
Manuel Funke, Moritz Schularick, Christoph Trebesch, 21 November 2015
Recent events in Europe provide ample evidence that the political aftershocks of financial crises can be severe. This column uses a new dataset that covers elections and crises in 20 advanced economies going back to 1870 to systematically study the political aftermath of financial crises. Far-right parties are the biggest beneficiaries of financial crises, while the fractionalisation of parliaments complicates post-crisis governance. These effects are not observed following normal recessions or severe non-financial macroeconomic shocks.
Paul De Grauwe, 07 September 2015
Economists were early critics of the design of the Eurozone, though many of their warnings went unheeded. This column discusses some fundamental design flaws, and how they have contributed to recent crises. National booms and busts lead to large external imbalances, and without individual lenders of last resort – national central banks – these cycles lead some members to experience liquidity crises that degenerated into solvency crises. One credible solution to these design failures is the formation of a political union, however member states are unlikely to find this appealing.
Òscar Jordà, Moritz Schularick, Alan Taylor, 01 September 2015
The risk that asset price bubbles pose for financial stability is still not clear. Drawing on 140 years of data, this column argues that leverage is the critical determinant of crisis damage. When fuelled by credit booms, asset price bubbles are associated with high financial crisis risk; upon collapse, they coincide with weaker growth and slower recoveries. Highly leveraged housing bubbles are the worst case of all.
Xavier Freixas, Luc Laeven, José-Luis Peydró, 05 August 2015
There has been much talk about using macroprudential policy to manage systemic risk and reduce negative spillovers, but there is little agreement on how it could be operationalised. This column highlights the findings of a new book on the topic and offers a framework for operationalising macroprudential policy. Macroprudential measures, together with higher capital requirements, could be used to tame the build-up of leverage and credit booms in order to prevent financial crises.
Francesco Bianchi, 22 April 2015
During the Great Recession, the possibility that the US might enter a second Great Depression was a real concern. This column argues that until early 2009, financial markets behaved in a manner consistent with the early years of the Great Depression. The large stock-market fall saw growth stocks outperforming value stocks. This pattern ended March 2009, arguably in light of robust policy interventions. These dynamics suggest that poor performance of growth stocks during regular times may be compensated by superior performance in crises.
Martijn Boermans, Sinziana Petrescu, Razvan Vlahu, 17 November 2014
Contingent convertible capital instruments – also known as CoCos – have grown in popularity since the financial crisis. This column suggests that the search for yield and the tightening of capital requirements have resulted in a new wave of CoCo issuances. While many of their features and risks remain unclear, CoCos may act as a buffer that makes banks more resilient in times of crisis.
Bruno Biais, Jean-Charles Rochet, Paul Woolley, 21 August 2014
The Global Crisis has intensified debates over the merits of financial innovation and the optimal size of the financial sector. This column presents a model in which the growth of finance is driven by the development of a financial innovation. The model can help explain the securitised mortgage debacle that triggered the latest crisis, the tech bubble in the late 1990s, and junk bonds in the 1980s. A striking implication of the model is that regulation should be toughest when finance seems most robust and when innovations are waxing strongly.
Kris Mitchener , Kirsten Wandschneider, 18 August 2014
The IMF has recently revised its position on capital controls, acknowledging that they may help prevent financial crises. This column examines the effects of capital controls imposed during the Great Depression. Capital controls appear not to have been successfully used as tools for rescuing banking systems, stimulating domestic output, or for raising prices. Rather they appear to have been maintained as a means for restricting trade and repayment of foreign debts.
Nicola Gennaioli, Alberto Martin, Stefano Rossi, 19 July 2014
There is growing concern – but little systematic evidence – about the relationship between sovereign default and banking crises. This column documents the link between public default, bank bondholdings, and bank loans. Banks hold many public bonds in normal times (on average 9% of their assets), particularly in less financially developed countries. During sovereign defaults, banks increase their exposure to public bonds – especially large banks, and when expected bond returns are high. At the bank level, bondholdings correlate negatively with subsequent lending during sovereign defaults.
Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur, Angelo Riva, Eugene White, 02 July 2014
The key challenge for lenders of last resort is to ameliorate financial crises without encouraging excessive risk-taking. This column discusses the lessons from the Banque de France’s successful handling of the crisis of 1889. Recognising its systemic importance, the Banque provided an emergency loan to the insolvent Comptoir d’Escompte. Banks that shared responsibility for the crisis were forced to guarantee the losses, which were ultimately recouped by large fines – notably on the Comptoir’s board of directors. This appears to have reduced moral hazard – there were no financial crises in France for 25 years.
Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang, 26 June 2014
Like banks, indebted governments can be vulnerable to self-fulfilling financial crises. This column applies this insight to the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and explains why the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions policy reduced sovereign bond spreads in the Eurozone.
Jon Danielsson, Kevin James, Marcela Valenzuela, Ilknur Zer, 08 June 2014
Risk forecasting is central to financial regulations, risk management, and macroprudential policy. This column raises concerns about the reliance on risk forecasting, since risk forecast models have high levels of model risk – especially when the models are needed the most, during crises. Policymakers should be wary of relying solely on such models. Formal model-risk analysis should be a part of the regulatory design process.