What I learnt about growth policy at the World Bank
Brian Pinto 17 December 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.
Growth concerns have gone global. Advanced economies are beset by fears of secular stagnation, the IMF recently cut estimates of potential growth in emerging markets by 1.5 percentage points relative to 2011, and G20 leaders approved 800 new measures at Brisbane 2014 for raising G20 GDP by an incremental 2.1% by 2018.1
Development Institutions and economics
growth, secular stagnation, emerging markets, World Bank, structural reform, Transition economies, financial crisis, global crisis, debt overhang, exchange rates
Linking banking crises and sovereign defaults in emerging markets
Irina Balteanu, Aitor Erce 12 November 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.
The feedback loop between fiscal and financial instability has been at the core of the recent turmoil in Europe (Acharya et al. 2014). In some countries, systemic banking crises triggered fiscal distress due to the magnitude of bank rescue operations (for example, in Ireland). In others, substantial sovereign debt tensions, leading to successive sovereign downgrades, severely weakened domestic financial systems (for example, in Greece).
Financial markets International finance Macroeconomic policy
twin crises, debt, sovereign debt, sovereign default, banking crises, financial crisis, doom loop, Eurozone crisis, emerging markets
From tapering to tightening: The impact of the Fed’s exit on India
Kaushik Basu, Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta 05 November 2014
India was among the hardest hit by the Fed’s ‘taper talks’. This column argues that this impact was large for two reasons. First, India received huge capital flows before 2013. This had made it a convenient target for investors seeking to rebalance away from emerging markets. Second, macroeconomic conditions had worsened, which rendered the economy vulnerable. The measures adopted in response were ineffective in stabilising the financial markets. Implementing a medium-term framework that limits vulnerabilities and restricts spillovers could be more successful.
On 22 May 2013, Chairman Ben Bernanke first spoke of the possibility of the Fed tapering its security purchases. This and subsequent statements, collectively known as ‘tapering talk’, had a sharp negative impact on the emerging markets (Aizenman et al. 2014). India was among those hardest hit. Between 22 May 2013 and the end of August 2013, the rupee exchange rate depreciated, bond spreads increased, and stock markets declined sharply.
International finance Macroeconomic policy
Fed tapering talks, India, emerging markets, Federal Reserve, current-account deficits
Policy uncertainty spillovers to emerging markets: Evidence from capital flows
Dennis Reinhardt, Cameron McLoughlin, Ludovic Gauvin 05 November 2014
In the aftermath of the Global Crisis, policymakers and academics alike discussed how uncertainty surrounding macroeconomic policymaking has impacted domestic investment. At the same time, concerns regarding the spillover impact of monetary policy in advanced economies on emerging market economies featured strongly in the international policy debate. This column draws the two debates together, and examines how policy uncertainty in advanced economies has spilled over to emerging markets via portfolio capital flows. It finds remarkable differences in the spillover effects of EU vs. US policy uncertainty.
In the wake of the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, advanced economies experienced heightened levels of uncertainty in macroeconomic policymaking. Against this backdrop, policymakers debated the domestic and global spillover implications of advanced-country policy uncertainty (e.g. IMF 2013). At the same time, the potential for monetary policy settings in advanced countries to spill over to emerging market economies (EMEs) via capital flows was hotly contested in both academic and policymaker circles (e.g. Fratzscher et al. 2013).
International finance Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
capital flows, Capital inflows, emerging markets, policy uncertainty, spillovers, global crisis, monetary policy, macroeconomic policy, risk aversion, home bias
Exchange rate pass-through in developing and emerging markets
Janine Aron, John Muellbauer 14 September 2014
Due to the adoption of inflation targeting and floating exchange rates, and the elimination of capital controls, exchange rate pass-through – the transmission of exchange rate movements to changes in the domestic price level – has become an increasingly important issue in developing and emerging market economies. This column discusses recent research on this topic, and highlights the frequent misspecifications that produce unreliable empirical estimates.
The interest in exchange rate pass-through (ERPT) in developing and emerging market (DEM) countries has burgeoned in the last two decades. By contrast, in the earlier comprehensive empirical survey of ERPT by Menon (1995), the majority of studies covered industrialised countries – largely the US, Japan and European countries – with only a handful of less developed countries, mainly reported in a single cross-country study.
exchange rates, exchange rate pass-through, developing countries, emerging markets, model misspecification
Political booms, financial crises: Why popular governments are not always a good sign
Christoph Trebesch, Helios Herrera, Guillermo L. Ordoñez 06 September 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.
Financial crises: the search for early warning indicators
Financial crises are a recurrent phenomenon in the history of emerging markets and advanced economies alike. To understand the common causes of these crises and to prevent future ones from developing, economists have a long tradition of studying early warning indicators. Two well-documented predictors of financial crises are credit booms and capital flow bonanzas.
Financial markets Politics and economics
credit booms, financial crisis, politics, emerging markets, capital flows, public opinion, popularity
‘Leaning against the wind’: exchange rate intervention in emerging markets works
Christian Daude, Eduardo Levy Yeyati 01 September 2014
Central banks’ exchange rate interventions are typically attributed to precautionary, prudential, or mercantilist motives. This column documents the prevalence of an alternative motive – that of stabilising the exchange rate – in emerging markets, where, despite heavy intervention, the Global Crisis saw important deviations of the real exchange rate from its equilibrium value. Exchange rate intervention is shown to be effective, but more so at containing appreciations than depreciations.
The economic debate has typically downplayed the exchange rate-smoothing nature of central bank foreign exchange intervention, attributing it to precautionary or prudential motives, or to the goal of keeping the exchange rate undervalued for mercantilist reasons.
Exchange rates Monetary policy
Central Banks, exchange rates, exchange rate smoothing, emerging markets, Leaning against the wind
New-breed global investors and emerging-market financial stability
Gaston Gelos, Hiroko Oura 23 August 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.
The investor base matters since different investors behave differently. During the emerging-market sell-off episodes in 2013 and early 2014:
- Retail-oriented mutual funds withdrew aggressively, but investors from different regions also tended to behave differently;
- Institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies with long-term strategies broadly maintained their emerging-market investments.
Figure 1 shows the facts.
Figure 1. Bond flows to emerging-market economies
Financial markets International finance
Pension Funds, financial stability, capital flows, investment, emerging markets, financial deepening, herding, original sin, mutual funds, institutional investors
Central banks in developing countries should consider targeting nominal GDP
Pranjul Bhandari, Jeffrey Frankel 21 August 2014
Central banks, especially in developing countries, still seek transparent and credible communication. Yet signalling intentions through forward guidance or commitment sometimes creates undesirable constraints. This column argues that central bank pronouncements phrased in terms of nominal GDP are less likely to run afoul of the supply and trade shocks so common in developing countries, compared to pronouncements phrased in terms of inflation.
Central banks still seek transparent and credible communication. But signalling intentions, through forward guidance or some degree of commitment to an intermediate target, poses a difficult tradeoff. The advantages of transparency and credibility versus the disadvantages of waking up one day to find that unexpected developments have turned past statements into unwanted constraints on current monetary policy.
inflation targeting, emerging markets, NGDP targeting
The transmission of Federal Reserve tapering news to emerging financial markets
Joshua Aizenman, Mahir Binici, Michael M Hutchison 04 April 2014
In 2013, policymakers began discussing when and how to ‘taper’ the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy. This column presents evidence on the effect of Fed officials’ public statements on emerging-market financial conditions. Statements by Chairman Bernanke had a large effect on asset prices, whereas the market largely ignored statements by Fed Presidents. Emerging markets with stronger fundamentals experienced larger stock-market declines, larger increases in credit default swap spreads, and larger currency depreciations than countries with weaker fundamentals.
The quantitative easing (QE) policies of the US Federal Reserve in the years following the crisis of 2008–2009 included monthly securities purchases of long-term Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities totalling $85 billion in 2013. The cumulative outcome of these policies has been an unprecedented increase of the monetary base, mitigating the deflationary pressure of the crisis.
Exchange rates International finance Monetary policy
exchange rates, Federal Reserve, asset prices, emerging markets, stock markets, Credit Default Swaps, tapering