A number of US studies have found a link between high pre-crisis debt and weak consumption after the recent financial crisis. This column investigates the relationship between household debt and consumption in the UK. Spending cuts associated with debt are estimated to have reduced the level of aggregate private consumption by around 2% after 2007, unwinding the faster growth in spending by highly indebted households, relative to other households, before the financial crisis.
Philip Bunn, May Rostom, Monday, January 12, 2015
Xavier Vives, Monday, December 22, 2014
Banking has recently proven much more fragile than expected. This column argues that the Basel III regulatory response overlooks the interactions between different kinds of prudential policies, and the link between prudential policy and competition policy. Capital and liquidity requirements are partially substitutable, so an increase in one requirement should generally be accompanied by a decrease in the other. Increased competitive pressure calls for tighter solvency requirements, whereas increased disclosure requirements or the introduction of public signals may require tighter liquidity requirements.
Brian Pinto, Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Since the Global Crisis, concerns have grown that advanced economies are suffering from secular stagnation. This column discusses the lessons that can be learnt from the economic transition of central and eastern Europe and the emerging-market crises of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Structural reform is particularly costly in the context of a debt overhang and an overvalued exchange rate. However, the crux is not debt restructuring per se, but whether economic governance changes credibly for the better following it.
Irina Balteanu, Aitor Erce, Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The feedback loop between banking crises and sovereign debt crises has been at the heart of recent problems in the Eurozone. This column presents stylised facts on the mechanisms through which banking and sovereign crises combine and become ‘twin’ crises. The results point to systematic differences not only between ‘single’ and ‘twin’ crises, but also between different types of ‘twin’ episodes. The timing of ‘twin’ crises – which crisis comes first – is important for understanding their drivers, transmission channels, and economic consequences.
Hugh Rockoff, Saturday, October 4, 2014
World War I profoundly altered the structure of the US economy and its role in the world economy. However, this column argues that the US learnt the wrong lessons from the war, partly because a halo of victory surrounded wartime policies and personalities. The methods used for dealing with shortages during the war were simply inappropriate for dealing with the Great Depression, and American isolationism in the 1930s had devastating consequences for world peace.
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.
Karl Walentin, Thursday, September 11, 2014
Central banks have resorted to various unconventional monetary policy tools since the onset of the Global Crisis. This column focuses on the macroeconomic effects of the Federal Reserve’s large-scale purchases of mortgage-backed securities – in particular, through reducing the ‘mortgage spread’ between interest rates on mortgages and government bonds at a given maturity. Although large-scale asset purchases are found to have substantial macroeconomic effects, they may not necessarily be the best policy tool at the zero lower bound.
Stephen Golub, Ayse Kaya, Michael Reay, Monday, September 8, 2014
Since the Global Crisis, critics have questioned why regulatory agencies failed to prevent it. This column argues that the US Federal Reserve was aware of potential problems brewing in the financial system, but was largely unconcerned by them. Both Greenspan and Bernanke subscribed to the view that identifying bubbles is very difficult, pre-emptive bursting may be harmful, and that central banks could limit the damage ex post. The scripted nature of FOMC meetings, the focus on the Greenbook, and a ‘silo’ mentality reduced the impact of dissenting views.
Christoph Trebesch, Helios Herrera, Guillermo L. Ordoñez, Saturday, September 6, 2014
Financial crises are often credit booms gone bust. This column argues that ‘political booms’, defined as an increase in government popularity, are also a good predictor of financial crises. The phenomenon of ‘political booms gone bust’ is, however, only observable in emerging markets. In these countries, politicians have more to gain from riding the popularity benefits of unsustainable booms.
Jonathan Bridges, David Gregory, Mette Nielsen, Silvia Pezzini, Amar Radia, Marco Spaltro, Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Since the Global Crisis, support has grown for the use of time-varying capital requirements as a macroprudential policy tool. This column examines the effect of bank-specific, time-varying capital requirements in the UK between 1990 and 2011. In response to increased capital requirements, banks gradually increase their capital ratios to restore their original buffers above the regulatory minimum, reducing lending temporarily as they do so. The largest effects are on commercial real estate lending, followed by lending to other corporates and then secured lending to households.
Selin Sayek, Fatma Taskin, Saturday, July 5, 2014
The European Monetary Union is unprecedented, but the Eurozone Crisis is not. This column draws upon the experiences of previous banking crises, and compares the Eurozone Crisis countries. Like Japan before the 1992 crisis, Spain and Ireland had property bubbles fuelled by domestic credit. The Greek crisis is very distinct from crises in other Eurozone countries, so a one-size-fits-all policy would be inappropriate. The duration and severity of past crises suggest the road ahead will continue to be very rough.
Wendy Carlin, Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Wendy Carlin talks to Viv Davies about the 'Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics' (CORE) project, which was established by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at Oxford and proposes a new approach to economics teaching for undergraduates. The aim is to update the existing economics curriculum so that it reflects recent developments in economics, the economy and in teaching methods. They discuss the 'three gaps' in economics teaching that the project seeks to close. The interview was recorded in April 2014 at the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society.
Diane Coyle, Sunday, May 4, 2014
The undergraduate economics curriculum is hugely influential, since today’s undergraduates are tomorrow’s policymakers. The massive policy failures before and after the Global Crisis have thus prompted a rethink. This column argues that there is a reasonable degree of consensus on the need for curriculum reform, but no agreement on whether this means rejecting the basic building blocks of the subject. Nevertheless, undergraduate courses in five or ten years will almost surely have changed considerably in character.
Geoff Mulgan, Friday, April 11, 2014
Geoff Mulgan talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his recent book, 'The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism's Future'. Mulgan suggests that the economic crisis was a dramatic reminder that capitalism can both produce and destroy, but that it also provides a historic opportunity to choose a radically different future for capitalism - one that maximizes its creative power yet minimizes its destructive force. They discuss the importance of social innovation and the creative economy. The interview was recorded in May 2013.
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.
Emanuele Baldacci, Sanjeev Gupta, Carlos Mulas-Granados, Monday, March 31, 2014
The recent debate on the link between austerity and growth has focused on the short run. This column discusses recent research into the link between fiscal consolidation and medium-term growth under different financial conditions. If credit is not available to consumers and investors, private demand is less able to compensate for cutbacks in public demand, so large spending cuts can have a negative effect on growth. Difficult financial conditions probably explain why fiscal adjustments that worked in the 1990s have not produced similar beneficial effects on growth in recent years.
Michael Bordo, Friday, March 21, 2014
Since 2007, there has been a buildup of TARGET imbalances within the Eurosystem – growing liabilities of national central banks in the periphery matched by growing claims of central banks in the core. This column argues that, rather than signalling the collapse of the monetary system – as was the case for Bretton Woods between 1968 and 1971 – these TARGET imbalances represent a successful institutional innovation that prevented a repeat of the US payments crisis of 1933.
Maurizio Michael Habib, Livio Stracca, Friday, February 28, 2014
At the peak of the Global Crisis, the US dollar appreciated and US Treasury yields fell, suggesting that foreign investors were purchasing US assets in general. Actually, they were fleeing only into short-term Treasury bills. This column discusses recent research showing that there are indeed no securities which are consistently a safe haven across different crisis episodes – not even US assets. However, a peculiarity of the US securities is that foreign investors do not necessarily ‘run for the exit’, even when a crisis has its epicentre in the US.
Eiji Ogawa, Zhiqian Wang, Sunday, January 19, 2014
Since the East Asian financial crisis of 1997, the emphasis on regional monetary cooperation has grown. This column discusses recent research into intra-regional exchange rate misalignments. In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, investors in the US and Europe withdrew from emerging markets, causing a depreciation of emerging-market currencies against the US dollar. At the same time, the appreciation of the Japanese yen – fuelled in part by intra-regional capital flows – has increased the misalignment of intra-regional exchange rates.
Willem Buiter, Friday, January 10, 2014
Fiscal sustainability has become a hot topic as a result of the European sovereign debt crisis, but it matters in normal times, too. This column argues that financial sector reforms are essential to ensure fiscal sustainability in the future. Although emerging market reforms undertaken in the aftermath of the financial crises of the 1990s were beneficial, complacency is not warranted. In the US, political gridlock must be overcome to reform entitlements and the tax system. In the Eurozone, creating a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism should be a priority.