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  • Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects x
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Valentina Bonifacio, Mr. Luis Brandao-Marques, Mrs. Nina T Budina, Mr. Balazs Csonto, Chiara Fratto, Philipp Engler, Davide Furceri, Ms. Deniz O Igan, Rui Mano, Mr. Machiko Narita, Murad Omoev, and Gurnain Kaur Pasricha
As central banks across the globe have responded to the COVID-19 shock by rounds of extensive monetary loosening, concerns about their inequality impact have grown. But rising inequality has multiple causes and its relationship with monetary policy is complex. This paper highlights the channels through which monetary policy easing affect income and wealth distribution, and presents some quantitative findings about their importance. Key takeaways are: (i) central banks should remain focused on macro stability while continuing to improve public communications about distributional effects of monetary policy, and (ii) supportive fiscal policies and structural reforms can improve macroeconomic and distributional outcomes.
Mr. Jiaqian Chen, Daria Finocchiaro, Jesper Lindé, and Karl Walentin
We examine the effects of various borrower-based macroprudential tools in a New Keynesian environment where both real and nominal interest rates are low. Our model features long-term debt, housing transaction costs and a zero-lower bound constraint on policy rates. We find that the long-term costs, in terms of forgone consumption, of all the macroprudential tools we consider are moderate. Even so, the short-term costs differ dramatically between alternative tools. Specifically, a loan-to-value tightening is more than twice as contractionary compared to loan-to-income tightening when debt is high and monetary policy cannot accommodate.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper identifies policies to increase productivity in the East, reduce regional income disparities, and promote overall income convergence. Achieving this objective will require improving educational attainment and reducing skill mismatches in the East, scaling up public infrastructure to attract investment to less productive regions, and facilitating labor mobility. This paper also discusses female labor participation in Poland and the potential impact on bank profitability of the recently implemented bank asset tax. Poland’s population is aging, yet it has an important underused source of qualified labor—its women. For Poland to unleash its full economic potential, it needs to embrace the vital contribution that women can make to its economy.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
In the June 2016 issue of IMF Research Bulletin, Eugenio Cerutti interviews Lars E.O. Svensson. Lars, a professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, was a Visiting Scholar at the IMF. In the interview, he discusses monetary policy, financial stability, and life at the IMF. The Bulletin also features a listing of recent Working Papers, Staff Discussion Notes, and key IMF publications. The table of contents from the latest issue of IMF Economic Review is also included.
Carlos Caceres, Mr. Yan Carriere-Swallow, and Bertrand Gruss
Is the Mundell-Fleming trilemma alive and well? International co-movement of asset prices takes place alongside synchronized business cycles, complicating the identification of financial spillovers and assessments of monetary policy autonomy. A benchmark for interest rate comovement is to impose the null hypothesis that central banks respond only to the outlook for domestic inflation and output. We show that common approaches used to estimate interest rate spillovers tend to understate the degree of monetary autonomy enjoyed by small open economies with flexible exchange rates. We propose an empirical strategy that partials out those spillovers that are associated with impaired monetary autonomy. Using this approach, we revisit the predictions of the trilemma and find more compelling evidence that flexible exchange rates deliver monetary autonomy than prior work has suggested.
Rima Turk
Sweden is experiencing double-digit housing price gains alongside rising household debt. A common interpretation is that mortgage lending boosted by expansionary monetary policy is driving up house prices. But theory suggests the value of housing collateral is also important for household’s capacity to borrow. This paper examines the interactions between housing prices and household debt using a three-equation model, finding that household borrowing impacts housing prices in the short-run, but the price of housing is the main driver of the secular trend in household debt over the long-run. Both housing prices and household debt are estimated to be moderately above their long-run equilibrium levels, but the adjustment toward equilibrium is not found to be rapid. Whereas low interest rates have contributed to the recent surge in housing prices, growth in incomes and financial assets play a larger role. Policy experiments suggest that a gradual phasing out of mortgage interest deductibility is likely to have a manageable effect on housing prices and household debt.
Mr. Stijn Claessens
Macroprudential policies – caps on loan to value ratios, limits on credit growth and other balance sheets restrictions, (countercyclical) capital and reserve requirements and surcharges, and Pigouvian levies – have become part of the policy paradigm in emerging markets and advanced countries alike. But knowledge is still limited on these tools. Macroprudential policies ought to be motivated by market failures and externalities, but these can be hard to identify. They can also interact with various other policies, such as monetary and microprudential, raising coordination issues. Some countries, especially emerging markets, have used these tools and analyses suggest that some can reduce procyclicality and crisis risks. Yet, much remains to be studied, including tools’ costs ? by adversely affecting resource allocations; how to best adapt tools to country circumstances; and preferred institutional designs, including how to address political economy risks. As such, policy makers should move carefully in adopting tools.
Miss Rita Babihuga and Marco Spaltro
This paper investigates the determinants of bank funding costs for a sample of internationally active banks from 2001–12. We find that changes in banks’ unsecured funding costs are associated with bank-specific characteristics such as an institution’s credit worthiness and the return on its market value, and importantly, on the level and quality of capital. Similarly, market factors such as the level of investor risk appetite, as well as shocks to financial markets—notably the US subprime crisis and the Euro Area sovereign debt crisis—have also been key drivers of the sharp rise in bank funding costs. We also find evidence that large systemically important institutions have enjoyed a funding advantage, and that this advantage has risen since the onset of the two crises. With the exception of Euro Area periphery banks, by end-2012 the rise in funding costs had generally been reversed for most major banks as a result of improvments in bank asset quality as well as steps taken to increase resilience, notably higher capitalization. Our results suggest increased capital buffers may potentially support bank lending to the real economy by reducing bank funding costs.