523 research outputs found

    The risk of deflation

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    This paper was prepared for the meeting on Financial Regulation and Macroeconomic Stability: Key issues for the G20, organised by the CEPR and the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee, London, 31 January 2009. Introduction: The onset of financial instability in August 2007, which quickly spread across the world, raises a number of questions for policy makers. First, what are the roots of the crisis? Many factors have been emphasized in the debate, including the opacity of complex financial products; the excessive confidence in ratings; weak risk management by financial institutions; massive reliance on wholesale funding; and the presumption that markets would always be liquid. Furthermore, poorly understood incentive effects – arising from the originate-to-distribute-model, remuneration policies and the period of low interest rates – are also widely seen as having played a role. Second, how can a repetition of the crisis can be avoided? Much attention is being focused on regulation and supervision of financial intermediaries. The G-20, at its summit in November 2008, noted that measures need to be taken in five areas: (i) financial market transparency and disclosure by firms need to be strengthened; (ii) regulation needs to be enhanced to ensure that all financial markets, products and participants are regulated or subject to oversight, as appropriate; (iii) the integrity of financial markets should be improved by bolstering investor and consumer protection, avoiding conflicts of interest, and by promoting information sharing; (iv) international cooperation among regulators must be enhanced; and (v) international financial institutions must be reformed to reflect changing economic weights in the world economy better in order to increase the legitimacy and effectiveness of these institutions. Third, how can the consequences for economic activity be minimized? Many of the adverse developments in financial markets – in particular the collapse of term interbank markets – reflect deeply entrenched perceptions of counterparty risk. Prompt and far-reaching action to support the financial system, in particular the infusion of equity capital in financial institutions to reduce counter-party risk and get credit to flow again, is essential in order to restore market functioning. A particular risk at present is that the rapid decline in inflation in many countries in recent months will turn into deflation with highly adverse real economic developments. This background paper considers how large the risk of deflation may be and discusses what policy can do to reduce it. It is organized as follows. Section 2 defines deflation and discusses downward nominal wage rigidities and the zero lower bound on interest rates. While these factors are frequently seen as two reasons why deflation can be associated with very poor economic outcomes, they should not be overemphasized. Section 3 looks at the current situation. Inflation expectations and forecasts in the subset of economies we look at (the euro area, the UK and the US) are positive, indicating that deflation is not expected. This does not imply that the current concerns of deflation are unwarranted, only that the public expects the central bank to be successful in avoiding deflation. The section also looks at the evolution of headline and “core” inflation, focusing on data from the US and the euro area. Section 4 reviews how monetary and fiscal policy can be conducted to ensure that deflation is avoided. Section 5 briefly discusses special issues arising in emerging market economies. Finally, Section 6 offers some conclusions. An Appendix discusses deflation episodes in the period 1882-1939

    Monetary policy and TIPS yields before the crisis

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    We make three points. First, the decade before the financial crisis in 2007 was characterized by a collapse in the yield on TIPS. Second, estimated VARs for the federal funds rate and the TIPS yield show that while monetary policy shocks had negligible effects on the TIPS yield, shocks to the latter had one-to-one effects on the federal funds rate. Third, these findings can be rationalized in a New Keynesian model

    Deflation and relative prices : evidence from Japan and Hong Kong

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    We test the menu cost model of Ball and Mankiw (1994, 1995), which implies that the impact of price dispersion on inflation should differ between inflation and deflation episodes, using data for Japan and Hong Kong. We use a random cross-section sample split when calculating the moments of the distribution of price changes to mitigate the small-cross-sectionsample bias noted by Cecchetti and Bryan (1999). The parameter on the third moment is positive and significant in both countries during both the inflation and deflation periods, and the parameter on the second moment changes sign in the deflation period, as the theory predicts. Keywords: inflation, deflation, menu costs, Hong Kong, Japan JEL Numbers: E3

    Financial structure and the impact of monetary policy on asset prices

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    We study the responses of residential property and equity prices, inflation and economic activity to monetary policy shocks in 17 countries, using data spanning 1986-2006, using single-country VARs and panel VARs in which we distinguish between groups of countries depending on their financial systems. The effect of monetary policy on property prices is about three times as large as its impact on GDP. Using monetary policy to guard against financial instability by offsetting asset-price movements thus has sizable effects on economic activity. While the financial structure influences the impact of policy on asset prices, its importance appears limited

    Money and Inflation in the Euro Area: A Case for Monetary Indicators?

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    This paper studies the relationship between inflation, output, money and interest rates in the euro area, using data spanning 1980 2000. The P* model is shown to have considerable empirical support. Thus, the price gap' or, equivalently, the real money gap' (the gap between current real balances and long-run equilibrium real balances), has substantial predictive power for future inflation. The real money gap contains more information about future inflation than the output gap and the Eurosystem's money-growth indicator (the gap between current M3 growth and a reference value). The results suggest that the Eurosystem's money-growth indicator is an inferior indicator of future inflation.

    Monetary policy, asset prices and macroeconomic conditions : a panel-VAR study

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    This paper studies the relationships between inflation, economic activity, credit, monetary policy, and residential property and equity prices in 17 OECD countries, using quarterly data for 1986-2006. Using a panel VAR, we find plausible and significant responses to a monetary policy shock. Shocks to asset prices have a positive, significant effect on GDP and credit after three to four quarters, whereas prices start to increase much later. We also consider the transmission of US shocks from the US to the other economies. While monetary policy shocks are transmitted internationally, other shocks are not, perhaps because of the form of coefficient restrictions used.asset prices, credit, monetary policy, panel VAR

    The term structure of interest rates across frequencies

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    This paper tests the expectations hypothesis (EH) of the term structure of interest rates in US data, using spectral regression techniques that allow us to consider different frequency bands. We find a positive relation between the term spread and the change in the long-term interest rate in a frequency band of 6 months to 4 years, whereas the relation is negative at higher and lower frequencies. We confirm that the variance of term premia relative to expected changes in long-term interest rates dominates at high and low frequencies, leading the EH to be rejected in those bands but not in the intermediate frequency band. JEL Classification: C22, E43Expectations theory of the term structure, frequency domain, Interest Rates, spectral regression

    Estimates of real economic activity in Switzerland, 1886-1930

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    This paper uses annual data spanning 1870 to 1930 on a set of variables correlated with business conditions to construct an index of real economic activity in Switzerland. We extract an estimate of the common component of the data series using principal components analysis and the unobservable variables approach proposed by Stock and Watson (1989, 1991). The resulting index is similar to that constructed by Andrist et al. (2000) but displays more variation over time and is available for a longer time period. Moreover, it is less volatile and covers a longer time period in the 20th century than the estimate by Ritzmann-Blickenstorfer (1996
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