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Mr. Francisco Roch
We consider how fear of model misspecification on the part of the planner and/or the households affects welfare gains from optimal macroprudential taxes in an economy with occasionally binding collateral constraints as in Bianchi (2011). On the one hand, there exist welfare gains from internalizing how borrowing decisions in good times affect the value of collateral during a crisis. On the other hand, interventions by a robust planner that has in mind a model far from the true underlying distribution of shocks, can result in negligible welfare gains, or even losses. This is because a policy that is robust to misspecification, as in Hansen and Sargent (2011), is optimal under a "worst-case'' scenario but not under alternative distributions of the state. A robust planner introduces taxes that are 5 percentage points higher but does not achieve a significant increase in welfare gains compared to a non-robust planner when the true underlying model is not the worst-case. If households also make choices that are robust to model misspecification, the gains are significantly reduced and a highly-robust planner "underborrows" and induces welfare losses. If, however, the worst-case scenario is indeed realized, then welfare gains are the largest possible.
Khalid ElFayoumi and Martina Hengge
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated policy responses triggered a historically large wave of capital reallocation between markets and asset classes. Using high-frequency country-level data, this paper examines if and how the number of COVID cases, the stringency of the lockdown, and the fiscal and monetary policy response determined the dynamics of portfolio flows. Despite more dominant global factors, we find that these domestic factors played an important role, particularly for emerging markets and bond flows, contributing to a global wave of reallocation to safer asset classes. Our results indicate that rising domestic COVID cases had a strong positive effect on portfolio flows, which responded to an increase in financing needs in affected economies. Lockdown and fiscal policy measures also led to an increase in portfolio flows; however, evidence from the CDS market suggests that the increase in flows was dominated by supply forces, reflecting investors' preference for stronger policy responses. In contrast, we find that interest rate cuts led to a decline in portfolio flows as investors searched for higher yield. Finally, we show that COVID policy responses also affected countries' exposure to the global shock and that pre-COVID macroeconomic conditions, such as lower sovereign risk and higher trade openness, contributed to larger flows during the COVID episode.
Mr. Sakai Ando
This paper studies whether bilateral international financial connection data help predict bilateral stock return comovement. It is shown that, when the United States is chosen as the benchmark, a larger U.S. portfolio investment asset position on the destination economy predicts a stronger stock return comovement between them. For large economies such as the United States and Germany, the portfolio investment position is also the best predictor among other connection variables. The paper discusses with a simple general equilibrium portfolio model that the empirical pattern is consistent with the behavior of index investors who trade in response to risk-on/risk-off shocks.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The macroeconomic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa continues to strengthen with higher growth, easing inflation, and stabilizing public debt ratios with some countries improving their fiscal balances. But there are concerns on the quality of the fiscal adjustment and underlying vulnerabilities have yet to be decisively addressed.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The macroeconomic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa continues to strengthen with higher growth, easing inflation, and stabilizing public debt ratios with some countries improving their fiscal balances. But there are concerns on the quality of the fiscal adjustment and underlying vulnerabilities have yet to be decisively addressed.

Paolo Cavallino and Mr. Damiano Sandri
We provide a theory of the limits to monetary policy independence in open economies arising from the interaction between capital flows and domestic collateral constraints. The key feature of our theory is the existence of an “Expansionary Lower Bound” (ELB), defined as an interest rate threshold below which monetary easing becomes contractionary. The ELB can be positive, thus acting as a more stringent constraint than the Zero Lower Bound. Furthermore, the ELB is affected by global monetary and financial conditions, leading to novel international spillovers and crucial departures from Mundell’s trilemma. We present two models under which the ELB may arise, the first featuring carry-trade capital flows and the second highlighting the role of currency mismatches.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The macroeconomic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa continues to strengthen. Growth is expected to increase from 2.7 percent in 2017 to 3.1 percent in 2018, reflecting domestic policy adjustments and a supportive external environment, including continued steady growth in the global economy, higher commodity prices, and accommodative external financing conditions. Inflation is abating; and fiscal imbalances are being contained in many countries. Over the medium term, and on current policies, growth is expected to accelerate to about 4 percent, too low to create the number of jobs needed to absorb anticipated new entrants into labor markets.