‘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
Managing the exchange rate: It's not how much, but how
Atish R Ghosh, Jonathan D Ostry, Mahvash Saeed Qureshi 02 April 2014
In a world of volatile capital flows, emerging markets are increasingly resorting to managing their exchange rates. But does this strategy increase their susceptibility to crisis? This column argues that while intermediate regimes as a class are the most susceptible to crises, ‘managed floats’ – a subclass within such regimes – behave much more like pure floats, with significantly lower risks and fewer crises. ‘Managed floating’, however, is a nebulous concept; a characterisation of more crisis prone regimes suggests that it is not the degree of exchange rate management alone, but the way the exchange rate is managed, that matters. Greater against-the-wind intervention by the central bank to prevent currency overvaluation reduces, while greater intervention to defend an overvalued currency raises, the crisis likelihood.
The choice of exchange rate regime is a perennial issue faced by emerging markets. Conventional wisdom, especially after the emerging markets crises of the late 1990s, was the bipolar prescription: countries should choose between either floats (the soft end of the prescription) or hard pegs (monetary union, dollarisation, currency board). The thinking was that intermediate regimes (conventional pegs, horizontal bands, crawling arrangements, managed floats) left countries more susceptible to crises.
exchange rates, emerging markets, managing floats
Political connections in turbulent times
Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, Amir Kermani, James Kwak, Todd Mitton 25 February 2014
Political connections affect economic outcomes in emerging markets. This column discusses new evidence showing that something similar goes on in the US. Over the ten trading days following the announcement of Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, financial firms with a connection to Geithner experienced a cumulative abnormal return of about 12% relative to other financial sector firms. This reversed when his nomination ran into trouble due to unexpected tax issues.
When assessing the political situation in many countries, it is common practice, and entirely reasonable, to consider who has what kind of personal connection to people in, or contending for, power.
Politics and economics
US, emerging markets, political connections
Turmoil in emerging markets: What’s missing from the story?
Kristin Forbes 05 February 2014
The Federal Reserve’s ‘taper talk’ in spring 2013 has been blamed for outflows of capital from emerging markets. This column argues that global growth prospects and uncertainty are more important drivers of emerging-market capital flows than US monetary policy. Although crises can affect very different countries simultaneously, over time investors begin to discriminate between countries according to their fundamentals. Domestic investors play an increasingly important – and potentially stabilising – role. During a financial crisis, ‘retrenchment’ by domestic investors can offset foreign investors’ withdrawals of capital.
Emerging markets are going through another period of volatility – and the most popular boogeyman is the US Federal Reserve.
The basic storyline is that less accommodative US monetary policy has caused foreign investors to withdraw capital from emerging markets, causing currency depreciations, equity declines, and increased borrowing costs. In many cases, these adjustments will slow growth and increase the risk of some type of crisis.
Federal Reserve, capital flows, emerging markets, global financial crisis, tapering
Why fiscal sustainability matters
Willem Buiter 10 January 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.
Does fiscal sustainability matter only when there is a fiscal house on fire, as was the case with the Greek sovereign insolvency in 2011–12? Far from it.
Financial markets Global crisis International finance Macroeconomic policy
eurozone, sovereign debt, capital flows, financial crisis, credit booms, fiscal policy, emerging markets, global financial crisis, banking, banks, Eurozone crisis, Currency wars, fiscal sustainability, banking union, sovereign debt restructuring, balance-sheet recession
The next sudden stop
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan 07 January 2014
Financial crises are generally preceded by credit booms and a build-up of external debts. Although it is unclear whether Turkey is experiencing a financial bubble, as of 2013, 58% of the corporate sector’s debt was denominated in foreign currencies. This column argues that this explains the Central Bank of Turkey’s interventions to prop up the value of the Turkish lira. Given the relatively low level of reserves and the unfolding corruption scandal, it is a critical question how long the Bank can continue to do so.
The ominous facts are well known – the strongest predictors of financial crises are domestic credit booms and external debts (Reinhart and Rogoff 2011). In emerging markets, credit booms are generally preceded by large capital inflows (Reinhart and Reinhart 2010). Many high-growth emerging markets have been receiving capital inflows for the last five years as the developed economies have been attending to their wounds from the Global Financial Crisis. Now the tide is reversing. Emerging markets are experiencing slowdowns in growth and widening current-account deficits.
Financial markets International finance
capital flows, emerging markets, global financial crisis, sudden stops, Turkey, tapering, liability dollarisation
Tapering talk: The impact of expectations of reduced Federal Reserve security purchases on emerging markets
Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta 19 December 2013
Fed tapering has started. A revival of last summer’s emerging economy turmoil is a real concern. This column discusses new research into who was hit and why by the June 2013 taper-talk shock. Those hit hardest had relatively large and liquid financial markets, and had allowed large rises in their currency values and their trade deficits. Good macro fundamentals did not provide much insulation, nor did capital controls. The best insulation came from macroprudential policies that limited exchange rate appreciation and trade deficit widening in response to foreign capital inflows.
In May 2013, Federal Reserve officials first began to talk of the possibility of the US central bank tapering its securities purchases from $85 billion a month to something lower. A milestone to which many observers point is 22 May 2013, when Chairman Bernanke raised the possibility of tapering in his testimony to Congress. This ‘tapering talk’ had a sharp negative impact on economic and financial conditions in emerging markets.
Three aspects of that impact are noteworthy:
Exchange rates Monetary policy
exchange rates, monetary policy, Federal Reserve, emerging markets, capital controls, Macroprudential policies, Capital inflows, currency war, tapering