Piketty’s laws with investment replacement and depreciation
Ton van Schaik, 6 July 2014
Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st century” has gained popularity with its finding of a growing gap between wage earners and capital owners. This column presents a test to the two main laws in Piketty’s book. The attractiveness of these two laws is in their simplicity, but so is their limitation. Piketty neglects investment replacement and depreciation.
Thomas Piketty has recently drawn worldwide attention with the proposition that the disparity between wage earners and capital owners is increasing, and that governments should intervene to bring this process to a standstill.
Topics: Frontiers of economic research, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: capital depreciation, investment
Do all firms have equal access to external financing?
Neil Kay, Gavin Murphy, Conor O'Toole, Iulia Siedschlag, Brian O'Connell, 29 June 2014
Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) often report difficulties in obtaining external finance. Based on new research, this column argues that these difficulties are not due to greater financial risks associated with SMEs. Instead, they are the result of imperfections in the market for external finance that negatively affect smaller and younger enterprises. The same research has shown that these types of firms are also the most reliant on external finance to support their investment and growth.
The proportion of bank loan acceptances has fallen significantly following the crisis, along with the level of enterprise investment. The sharpest falls in both have been in countries hardest hit by the crisis.
Topics: EU policies, Financial markets
Tags: borrowing, credit, credit rationing, Finance, information asymmetries, investment, lending, SMEs
Lacklustre investment in the Eurozone: Is there a puzzle?
Marco Buti, Philipp Mohl, 4 June 2014
Investment in the Eurozone is forecast to remain below trend until 2015, with a particularly large shortfall in the periphery. Low investment reduces aggregate demand, thus lowering short-term growth, and it also hampers medium-term growth through its effect on the capital stock. This column highlights three causes of low Eurozone investment – reduced public investment, financial fragmentation, and heightened uncertainty – and proposes a series of remedies.
On the importance of investment for the Eurozone economy
According to the European Commission’s most recent forecast, real economic activity in the Eurozone is expected to recover at a moderate pace until 2015, and to remain significantly weaker than in the US (European Commission 2014a).
Topics: EU policies, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: banking union, Bankruptcy, European Commission, eurozone, Eurozone crisis, financial fragmentation, growth, investment, public investment, structural reforms, uncertainty
US electrification in the 1930s
Carl Kitchens, 29 January 2014
Economists have found that large-scale infrastructure investments tend to increase economic growth and reduce poverty. However, there has been relatively little research on the effects of smaller, more targeted investment projects. This column discusses recent research on the effects of the US Rural Electrification Administration, which provided subsidised loans for connecting farms to the electric grid. Counties that received electricity through the REA witnessed smaller declines in agricultural productivity, smaller declines in land values, and more retail activity than similar counties that did not.
In 1930, fewer than 10% of farms in the US had access to electricity. By the mid-1950s, almost every farm in the country had electricity. While the US was able to extend electricity to its rural locations rapidly over a 25-year period, much of the developing world still remains without electricity today. In 2012, 1.3 billion people lived without electricity worldwide.
Topics: Development, Economic history
Tags: Agriculture, electricity, electrification, growth, infrastructure, investment, subsidies, technology
Why Asian firms hold cash
Charles Yuji Horioka, Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 25 January 2014
Corporate saving has sharply increased over the last two decades, but there has been relatively little research on its determinants. This column presents recent work that estimates Asian firms’ cash flow sensitivity of cash. The impact of cash flow on the increase in firms’ cash holdings is positive and statistically significant, and larger and more highly significant for smaller firms. Since smaller firms are more likely to be financially constrained, these results suggest that Asian firms – especially smaller ones – save more when their cash flow increases in order to finance future investments
In many, if not most, economies, sharp declines in household saving rates have been offset by sharp increases in corporate saving rates for the past two decades (see, for example, Karabarbounis and Neiman 2012). Even so, relatively little research has been done on the determinants of corporate saving.
Topics: Financial markets
Tags: Asia, borrowing constraints, corporate saving, financial frictions, investment, saving, savings
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
How to get around credit constraints? The role of renting and leasing during financial crises
Peter N. Gal, Gabor Pinter, 21 September 2013
Renting capital goods makes up 20% of total capital expenses by US companies and this type of capital spending increases in downturns. This column discusses research showing that the systematic pattern of corporate leasing can be linked to credit constraints. This means that a robust rental sector has the potential to mitigate the negative effects of financial disruptions when obtaining credit becomes difficult.
How does the ownership of capital affect the aggregate behaviour of the economy? Does it matter whether firms own or rent production capital such as machinery, equipment, offices, and structures?
Topics: Financial markets
Tags: business cycles, credit constraints, financial crises, investment, rental markets
Informal or formal financing: First evidence on co-funding of Chinese firms
Hans Degryse, Liping Lu, Steven Ongena, 21 August 2013
Non-bank financing originating in the shadow banking system has increasingly become an issue for policymakers. This column argues that informal financing has, in fact, been an essential element of corporate performance in China. Through reviewing the interaction between informal and formal financing, evidence suggests that informal financing simultaneously granted with formal financing (co-funding) is helpful for growth, especially for small firms.
The credit squeeze in June 2013 has triggered policymakers’ concern worldwide about a potential debt crisis in China, while at the same time the Chinese government has moved to crack down on undisciplined lending in order to alleviate the debt-bubble fears emanating from the shadow banking system.1
Topics: Development, Financial markets
Tags: China, Finance, investment
Save more to improve infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean
Eduardo Cavallo, 3 April 2013
Latin America and the Caribbean have less infrastructure than the rest of the world. What they have is also of much poorer quality. This column argues that to reap the rewards of good infrastructure, Latin American and Caribbean countries must increase both investment and saving over the long-term by creating institutional capacity, strengthening the rule of law, and building stable macroeconomic-policy frameworks. It won’t be easy.
Saving and investment, like the chicken and the egg, involve circular causality. But regardless of causality, there is no doubt that Latin America and the Caribbean need more of both.
That the region has an infrastructure problem hardly requires an explanation:
Tags: Caribbean, investment, Latin America, savings
Fire-sale FDI: All smoke and no fire?
Ron Alquist, Linda Tesar, Rahul Mukherjee, 26 March 2013
Is foreign direct investment different in times of crisis? This column tests the ‘fire-sale foreign direct investment hypothesis’, finding that acquisitions undertaken during crisis periods do not fundamentally differ from those undertaken during non-crisis periods. The fire-sale foreign direct investment notion may well be ‘all smoke, and no fire’.
When times are bad, governments tend to welcome foreign direct investment, but they worry that they are selling the family silver for cheap. This ‘fire-sale FDI’ phenomenon, as Krugman called it in the 1990s, is a perennial concern of nations whose currencies have recently plummeted.
Tags: FDI, fire-sale FDI, investment