International Seminar on Macroeconomics

June 24-25, 2016
Richard H. Clarida of Columbia University, Jeffrey Frankel of Harvard University, and Hélène Rey of London Business School, and Lucrezia Reichlin of London Business School, Organizers

Luis Cespedes, Central Bank of Chile; Roberto Chang, Rutgers University and NBER; and Andrés Velasco, Columbia University and NBER

Financial Intermediation, Exchange Rates, and Unconventional Policy in an Open Economy (NBER Working Paper No. 18431)

Cespedes, Chang, and Velasco study the effects of unconventional policies in an open economy where financial intermediaries face occasionally binding collateral constraints. The model highlights interactions among the real exchange rate, interest rates, and financial frictions. The exchange rate can affect international credit constraints via a net worth effect and a novel leverage ratio effect. Unconventional policies are non-neutral if financial constraints bind. Credit programs are most effective when targeted towards financial intermediaries. Sterilized foreign exchange interventions matter because the increased availability of tradables caused by sterilization relaxes financial frictions. This perspective is new in the literature.

Kathryn Holston, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Thomas Laubach, Federal Reserve Board; and John Williams, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest: International Trends and Determinants

U.S. estimates of the natural rate of interest – the real short-term interest rate that would prevail absent transitory disturbances – have declined dramatically since the start of the global financial crisis. For example, estimates using the Laubach-Williams (2003) model indicate the natural rate in the United States fell to close to zero during the crisis and has remained there through the end of 2015. Explanations for this decline include shifts in demographics, a slowdown in trend productivity growth, and global factors affecting real interest rates. This paper applies the Laubach-Williams methodology to the United States and three other advanced economies – Canada, the Euro Area, and the United Kingdom. Holston, Laubach, and Williams find that large declines in trend GDP growth and natural rates of interest have occurred over the past 25 years in all four economies. These country-by-country estimates are found to display a substantial amount of comovement over time, suggesting an important role for global factors in shaping trend growth and natural rates of interest.

Karen K. Lewis, University of Pennsylvania and NBER, and Edith Liu, Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Disaster Risk and Asset Returns: An International Perspective

Recent studies have shown that disaster risk can generate an equity premium similar to the data. Moreover, time variation in the risk of disasters can help explain the excess volatility of equity returns over that of government bill rates. However, these studies have ignored the cross-country asset pricing implications of the disaster risk model. This paper shows that standard disaster risk model assumptions lead to counterfactual international asset pricing implications. Given consumption pricing moments, disaster risk cannot explain the range of equity premia and government bill rates nor the high degree of equity return correlation. Moreover, the independence of disasters presumed in some studies generates counterfactually low cross-country correlations in equity markets. Alternatively, if disasters are all shared, the model generates correlations that are excessively high. Lewis and Liu show that common and idiosyncratic components of disaster risk are needed to explain the pattern in consumption and equity co-movements.

Andrés Fernández, Inter-American Development Bank, and Stephanie Schmitt-Grohé and Martín Uribe, Columbia University and NBER

World Shocks, World Prices, And Business Cycles: An Empirical Investigation

There is no consensus on the importance of world prices in explaining aggregate fluctuations in individual countries. Existing studies, both theoretical and empirical, concentrate on single measures of the terms of trade constructed in different ways. This paper presents an empirical framework in which, for each country, agricultural, metal, and fuel commodity prices enter separately as mediators of world disturbances. Fernández, Schmitt-Grohé, and Uribe find that jointly, these three commodity prices explain on average 30 percent of aggregate fluctuations in a group of 138 countries. This contribution lies in between the range of values obtained by existing empirical and theoretical studies.

Gianluca Benigno, London School of Economics, and Enrique Alberola, Bank for International Settlements

Revisiting the Commodity Curse: a Financial Perspective

Yusuf Soner Baskaya and Mehmet Ulu, CBRT; Julian di Giovanni and José-Luis Peydró, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; and Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, University of Maryland and NBER

International Spillovers and Local Credit Cycles: What do Firm-Bank-Loan Level Data Tell Us?

Baskaya, di Giovanni, Kalemli-Ozcan, and Peydró show that capital inflows lead to a decrease in the cost of borrowing and an associated domestic credit expansion in an emerging economy, Turkey, during 2003-2013. Instrumenting capital inflows by changes in global risk (VIX) at the aggregate level and using a firm-bank-loan level dataset to isolate "capital inflow" driven credit supply at the micro level, the researchers show that during episodes of low global risk and U.S. quantitative easing, bank intermediated domestic credit for corporates expands and the cost of such credit declines. Credit supply that is driven by exogenous capital inflows can explain roughly 30 percent of the observed change in aggregate credit growth. The researchers' data allow them to identify heterogeneous financial constraints. Larger banks provide more loans and charge lower interest rates relative to smaller banks when global liquidity is abundant, whereas smaller banks charge relatively lower interest rates on foreign currency loans during such periods. As they show, during periods of low global risk, domestic currency loans become cheaper relative to foreign currency loans, a fact that possibly drives total credit growth and the procylicality of larger banks. The researchers' interpretation of these findings is that larger banks' funding costs decrease more during episodes of abundant global liquidity, given their better connections to international financial markets, and this lower funding cost is reflected in lower real borrowing cost for firms. The results suggest that empirical studies focusing on cross-country data alone will miss key international spillover effects, since time-varying heterogeneity at the micro level lies at the heart of the relaxation of financial constraints due to capital flows.

Luca Dedola and Livio Stracca, European Central Bank, and Giulia Rivolta, University of Brescia

If the Fed Sneezes, Who Catches a Cold?

Dedola, Stracca, and Rivolta look at the global effects of U.S. monetary policy shocks using a two stage approach. They first estimate a large Bayesian VAR and identify U.S. monetary policy shocks using sign restrictions, and then analyse their effects on a number of real and financial variables in countries other than the U.S.. The researchers find that a surprise U.S. monetary tightening leads to a dollar appreciation vis-á-vis most countries in their sample. Moreover, in most countries industrial production and real GDP fall, unemployment rises, and inflation declines. The researchers find significant heterogeneity across countries, and emerging economies tend to experience larger effects. At the same time, they do not find any systematic relation between the country responses and the most likely relevant country characteristics, such as income level, exchange rate regime, financial openness, trade openness vs. the U.S., and dollar exposure.

Vania Stavrakeva, London Business School

Optimal Capital Flows in a Model with Financial Frictions and Imperfectly Competitive Banking Sector

The extent of foreign monetary policy spillovers can vary across countries. This paper studies one potential source of this heterogeneity -- different degrees of banking sector competition -- and the relevant optimal policy. Stavrakeva builds a model with imperfect banking sector competition and financial frictions, which generates inefficient pecuniary externalities. A more competitive banking sector implies larger foreign monetary policy spillovers and higher optimal tax on inflows, conditional on the cost of accessing foreign interbank markets not being too large. However, if this cost is fairly large, larger spillovers need not imply an optimally higher capital inflow tax. Furthermore, there exists an "optimal" level of banking sector competition for which the over-investment due to the pecuniary externalities cancels off the under-investment due to the monopolistic competition and no capital controls are required. Finally, Stavrakeva tests the comparative statics of the model using individual bank-level data and show that there is support for the predictions of the model in emerging markets.

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us