Korea’s stars tell of an economy saddled with a real neutral rate (r-star) that has declined significantly in recent decades and is currently below zero. This reflects a significant decline in trend growth, and two large financial crises that triggered significant shifts in the saving-investment balance. Larger fiscal deficits and frothy financial conditions since 2012 have helped offset rising demand for safer assets, preventing the neutral rate from falling further. Nonetheless, the fall in the neutral rate, coupled with its effects on asset returns, has complicated the task of monetary policy stabilization. Korea’s neutral rate is likely to remain low over the medium-term and could fall further, reflecting a structural savings-investment imbalance owing to declining productivity and a rotation in demographics increasing the demand for precautionary saving and convenience yield, and widening the capital risk premia. The COVID pandemic risks magnifying these trends.
Gongpil Choi, Federico Ortega, and Mr. Manmohan Singh
What are the constraints that have stalled EMs efforts to reuse their securities in international financial centers? We discuss the economics of collateral re-use and the present institutional structure in Asian and Latin American countries. Our empirical investigation suggests pledgeability enhances financial stability and reduces dollar funding risk. We also explain the Eurozone collateral pool to incentivize EMs, and why many securities (e.g., BTPs, Italy) are acceptable in London but not EM securities. Looking forward, EMs liaison with International Central Securities Depositories (ICSDs), and global banks’ balance sheet capacity to intermediate cross-border collateral will be crucial for this market to develop.
Chiara Fratto, Brendan Harnoys Vannier, David de Padua, and Ms. Helene Poirson Ward
The COVID-19 crisis induced an unprecedented launch of unconventional monetary policy through asset purchase programs (APPs) by emerging market and developing economies. This paper presents a new dataset of APP announcements and implementation from March until August 2020 for 27 emerging markets and 8 small advanced economies. APPs’ effects on bond yields, exchange rates, equities, and debt spreads are estimated using different methodologies. The results confirm that APPs were successful in significantly reducing bond yields in EMDEs, and these effects were stronger than those of policy rate cuts, suggesting that such UMP could be important tools for EMDEs during financial market stress.
Mr. Ilhyock Shim, Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, and Xiaoxi Liu
We quantify the effect of exchange rate fluctuations on firm leverage. When home currency appreciates, firms who hold foreign currency debt and local currency assets observe higher net worth as appreciation lowers the value of their foreign currency debt. These firms can borrow more as a result and increase their leverage. When home currency depreciates, the reverse happens as firms have to de-lever with a negative shock to their balance sheets. Using firm-level data for leverage from 10 emerging market economies during the period from 2002 to 2015, we show that firms operating in countries whose non-financial sectors hold more of the debt in foreign currency, increase (decrease) their leverage relatively more after home currency appreciations (depreciations). Combining the leverage data with firm-level FX debt data for 4 emerging market countries, we further show that our results hold at the most granular level. Our quantitative results are asymmetric: the effects of depre-ciations, that are generally associated with sudden stops, are quantitatively larger than those of appreciations, which take place at a slower pace over time during capital inflow episodes. As our exercise compares depreciations and appreciations of similar size, these results are suggestive of financial frictions being more binding during depreciations than a possible relaxation of such frictions during appreciations.
Non-deliverable forward (NDF) markets in many Asian emerging market currencies are large, rapidly growing, and often exceed onshore markets in transaction volume. NDFs tend to price significant depreciation during market stress episodes including COVID-19. Spillovers from NDFs to onshore markets are a policymaker concern. Our analysis shows that influences tend to run both ways after controlling for differences in timezones between markets. For the COVID-19 pandemic there is some evidence of NDFs leading onshore markets for a few currencies. Policy approaches to NDFs vary widely across Asia from close integration with onshore markets to severe restrictions on NDF trading.