We analyze how concerns for model misspecification on the part of international lenders affect the desirability of issuing state-contingent debt instruments in a standard sovereign default model à la Eaton and Gersovitz (1981). We show that for the commonly used threshold state-contingent bond structure (e.g., the GDP-linked bond issued by Argentina in 2005), the model with robustness generates ambiguity premia in bond spreads that can explain most of what the literature has labeled as novelty premium. While the government would be better off with this bond when facing rational expectations lenders, this additional source of premia leads to welfare losses when facing robust lenders. Finally, we characterize the optimal design of the state-contingent bond and show how it varies with the level of robustness. Our findings rationalize the little use of these instruments in practice and shed light on their optimal design.
Lien Laureys, Mr. Roland Meeks, and Boromeus Wanengkirtyo
We reconsider the design of welfare-optimal monetary policy when financing frictions impair the supply of bank credit, and when the objectives set for monetary policy must be simple enough to be implementable and allow for effective accountability. We show that a flexible inflation targeting approach that places weight on stabilizing inflation, a measure of resource utilization, and a financial variable produces welfare benefits that are almost indistinguishable from fully-optimal Ramsey policy. The macro-financial trade-off in our estimated model of the euro area turns out to be modest, implying that the effects of financial frictions can be ameliorated at little cost in terms of inflation. A range of different financial objectives and policy preferences lead to similar conclusions.
We investigate theoretically and empirically how exporters adjust their markups across destinations depending on bilateral distance, tariffs, and the quality of their exports. Under the assumption that trade costs are both ad valorem and per unit, our model predicts that markups rise with distance and fall with tariffs, but these effects are heterogeneous and are smaller in magnitude for higher quality exports. We find strong support for the predictions of the model using a unique data set of Argentinean firm-level wine exports combined with experts wine ratings as a measure of quality.
We apply a range of models to the U.K. data to obtain estimates of the output gap. A structural VAR with an appropriate identification strategy provides improved estimates of output gap with better real time properties and lower sensitivity to temporary shocks than the usual filtering techniques. It also produces smaller out-of-sample forecast errors for inflation. At the same time, however, our results suggest caution in basing policy decisions on output gap estimates.
The form of bounded rationality characterizing the representative agent is key in the choice of the optimal monetary policy regime. While inflation targeting prevails for myopia that distorts agents' inflation expectations, price level targeting emerges as the optimal policy under myopia regarding the output gap, revenue, or interest rate. To the extent that bygones are not bygones under price level targeting, rational inflation expectations is a minimal condition for optimality in a behavioral world. Instrument rules implementation of this optimal policy is shown to be infeasible, questioning the ability of simple rules à la Taylor (1993) to assist the conduct of monetary policy. Bounded rationality is not necessarily associated with welfare losses.
This paper develops a Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model with a
financial accelerator which captures key features of low-income countries (LICs). The
predominance of supply shocks in LICs poses distinct challenges for policymakers, given the
negative correlation between inflation and the output gap in the case of supply shocks. Our
results suggest that: (1) in the face of a supply-side shock, the most desirable interest rate rule
involves simply targeting current inflation and smoothing the policy interest rate; and (2)
ignoring financial frictions when evaluating policy rules can be particularly problematic in
LICs, where financial frictions loom especially large.
The effect that the recent decline in the price of oil has had on growth is far from clear, with
many observers at odds to explain why it does not seem to have provided a significant boost
to the world economy. This paper aims to address this puzzle by providing a systematic
analysis of the effect of oil price shocks on growth for 72 countries comprising 92.8% of world
GDP. We find that, on net, shocks driving the oil price in 2015 shaved off 0.2 percentage points
of growth for the median country in our sample, and 0.17 percentage points in GDP-weighted
terms. While increases in oil supply and shocks to oil-specific demand actually boosted growth
in 2015 (by about 0.2 and 0.4 percentage points, respectively), weak global demand more than
offset these gains, reducing growth by 0.8 percentage points. Counterfactual simulations for
the 72 countries in our sample underscore the importance of diversification, rather than low
levels of openness, in shielding against negative shocks to the world economy.