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  • Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth x
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Mr. Yunhui Zhao
Using zip code-level data and nonparametric estimation, I present eight stylized facts on the US housing market in the COVID-19 era. Some aggregate results are: (1) growth rate of median housing price during the four months (April-August 2020) since the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented monetary easing has accelerated faster than any four-month period in the lead-up to the 2007-09 global financial crisis; (2) the increase in housing demand in response to lower mortgage interest rates displays a structural break since March 2020 (housing demand has increased by much more than before). These results indicate either the existence of “fear of missing out” or COVID-induced fundamental changes in household behavior. In terms of distributional evidence, I find that the increase of housing demand seems more pronounced among the two ends of the income distribution, possibly reflecting relaxed liquidity constraints at the lower end and speculative demand at the higher end. I also find that the developments in housing price, demand, and supply since April 2020 are similar across urban, suburban, and rural areas. The paper highlights some potential unintended consequences of COVID-fighting policies and calls for further studies of the driving forces of the empirical findings.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This technical note on nonfinancial corporations and households vulnerabilities on France analyzes the structure of nonfinancial corporate financing in the French economy, potential vulnerabilities of the corporate sector, and their possible channels of transmission through interconnections with the financial system. The objective of this paper is to document the evolution of French corporate debt since the global financial crisis, analyze the riskiness of this debt, the quality of allocation of this debt, and uncover potential heterogeneity across sectors and firms which may have implications at the macroeconomic level. This paper also complements existing studies by the Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques, the Haut Conseil de Stabilité Financière and the Banque de France by undertaking a cross-country comparative analysis. Empirical analysis suggests that corporate debt may be allocated efficiently across publicly listed companies, but the picture is less clear among nonpublicly listed firms.
Jihad Dagher
Financial crises are traditionally analyzed as purely economic phenomena. The political economy of financial booms and busts remains both under-emphasized and limited to isolated episodes. This paper examines the political economy of financial policy during ten of the most infamous financial booms and busts since the 18th century, and presents consistent evidence of pro-cyclical regulatory policies by governments. Financial booms, and risk-taking during these episodes, were often amplified by political regulatory stimuli, credit subsidies, and an increasing light-touch approach to financial supervision. The regulatory backlash that ensues from financial crises can only be understood in the context of the deep political ramifications of these crises. Post-crisis regulations do not always survive the following boom. The interplay between politics and financial policy over these cycles deserves further attention. History suggests that politics can be the undoing of macro-prudential regulations.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper examines 2013 Cluster Consultation—a Nordic Regional IMF staff report. Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden that form the Nordic region share a set of strong economic and social institutions and policies, with emphasis on education, high income equality, high employment, innovative and competitive business environment, etc. The IMF report suggests that strong national financial sector policies and regional cooperation would help mitigate common challenges and shared risks. Cooperative regional policies, such as introducing binding macroprudential minima and clear ex ante burden-sharing arrangements are expected to help limit the costs from any large bank failures.
Ms. Sonali Jain-Chandra, Min Jung Kim, Sung Ho Park, and Jerome Shin
Korea was hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis, with the foreign bank deleveraging channel coming prominently into play. The global financial crisis demonstrated that a sharp deleveraging can be transmitted to emerging markets through the bank lending channel to a slowdown in credit growth. The analysis finds that a sharp decline in external funding led to relatively modest decline in domestic credit by Korean banks, due to concerted policy efforts by the government in 2008. Impulse responses from a Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model calibrated to Korea shows that it appears better prepared to handle such shocks relative to 2008. Indeed, Korea is much more resilient to such shocks due to the efforts by the authorities, which has led to the strengthening of external buffers, such as higher foreign exchange reserves and bilateral and multilateral currency swap arrangements.
International Monetary Fund
Canadian housing prices are higher than levels consistent with current fundamentals in some provinces. The empirical estimates suggest that a 10 percent decline in housing prices would lead to a 1¼ percent decline in private consumption. The high level of household leverage and housing prices could prove to be a source of vulnerability. The rebound in debt and housing prices after the crisis largely reflects the resilience of the financial system and the stronger economic recovery in Canada, as well as historically low interest rates.
Jihad Dagher and Mr. Ning Fu
We show that the lightly regulated non-bank mortgage originators contributed disproportionately to the recent boom-bust housing cycle. Using comprehensive data on mortgage originations, which we aggregate at the county level, we first establish that the market share of these independent non-bank lenders increased in virtually all US counties during the boom. We then exploit the heterogeneity in the market share of independent lenders across counties as of 2005 and show that higher market participation by these lenders is associated with increased foreclosure filing rates at the onset of the housing downturn. We carefully control for counties' economic, demographic, and housing market characteristics using both parametric and semi-nonparametric methods. We show that this relation between the pre-crisis market share of independents and the rise in foreclosure is more pronounced in less regulated states. The macroeconomic consequences of our findings are significant: we show that the market share of these lenders as of 2005 is also a strong predictor of the severity of the housing downturn and subsequent rise in unemployment. Overall our findings lend support to the view that more stringent regulation could have averted some of the volatility on the housing market during the recent boom-bust episode.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
This paper provides a brief overview of the latest research on the ability of forecasters to predict recessions. The paper highlights that few recessions have been forecast before their onset. Forecasters tend to be excessively cautious and do not revise their forecasts promptly and sufficiently to reflect incoming news. Nor do they fully take into account interdependence among economies. This paper also focuses on robust growth determinants highlighting that a fundamental problem confronting researchers is the lack of an explicit theory identifying the determinants of growth.
Mr. Christopher W. Crowe
The recent housing bust has reignited interest in psychological theories of speculative excess (Shiller, 2007). I investigate this issue by identifying a segment of the U.S. population-evangelical protestants-that may be less prone to speculative motives, and uncover a significant negative relationship between their population share and house price volatility. Evangelicals' focus on Biblical prophecy could account for this difference, since it may enable them to interpret otherwise negative events as containing positive news, dampening the response of house prices to shocks. I provide evidence for this channel using a popular internet measure of "prophetic activity" and a 9/11 event study. I also analyze survey data covering religious beliefs and asset holding, and find that 'end times' beliefs are associated with a one-third decline in net worth, consistent with these beliefs providing a form of psychic insurance (Scheve and Stasavage, 2006a and 2006b) that reduces asset demand.