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International Monetary Fund
The December 2015 IMF Research Bulletin features a sampling of key research from the IMF. The Research Summaries in this issue look at “The Impact of Deflation and Lowflation on Fiscal Aggregates (Nicolas End, Sampawende J.-A. Tapsoba, Gilbert Terrier, and Renaud Duplay); and “Oil Exporters at the Crossroads: It Is High Time to Diversify” (Reda Cherif and Fuad Hasanov). Mahvash Saeed Qureshi provides an overview of the fifth Lindau Meeting in Economics in “Meeting the Nobel Giants.” In the Q&A column on “Seven Questions on Financial Frictions and the Sources of the Business Cycle, Marzie Taheri Sanjani looks at the driving forces of the business cycle and macroeconomic models. The top-viewed articles in 2014 from the IMF Economic Review are highlighted, along with recent IMF Working Papers, Staff Discussion Notes, and IMF publications.
Yishay Yafeh, Mr. Kenichi Ueda, and Mr. Stijn Claessens
Financial frictions have been identified as key factors affecting economic fluctuations and growth. But, can institutional reforms reduce financial frictions? Based on a canonical investment model, we consider two potential channels: (i) financial transaction costs at the firm level; and (ii) required return at the country level. We empirically investigate the effects of institutions on these financial frictions using a panel of 75,000 firm-years across 48 countries for the period 1990 - 2007. We find that improved corporate governance (e.g., less informational problems) and enhanced contractual enforcement reduce financial frictions, while stronger creditor rights (e.g., lower collateral constraints) are less important.
Mr. Ludvig Söderling
This paper analyzes the determinants of credit cyclicality. It constructs a financial development index and studies whether it affects the amplitude of impulse responses to shocks to output, terms of trade, global liquidity, and global risk appetite. The paper uses both country-specific VARs for cross-country analyses and panel VARs to compare impulse responses between various country groupings. The study finds evidence that financial development-especially stronger creditor rights-can mitigate credit cyclicality, given that the response of credit to output or terms of trade shocks is stronger in countries with weaker financial systems.
Jihad Dagher
This paper proposes a tractable Sudden Stop model to explain the main patterns in firm level data in a sample of Southeast Asian firms during the Asian crisis. The model, which features trend shocks and financial frictions, is able to generate the main patterns observed in the sample during and following the Asian crisis, including the ensuing credit-less recovery, which are also patterns broadly shared by most Sudden Stop episodes as documented in Calvo et al. (2006). The model also proposes a novel explanation as to why small firms experience steeper declines than their larger peers as documented in this paper. This size effect is generated under the assumption that small firms are growth firms, to which there is support in the data. Trend shocks when combined with financial frictions in this model also generate strong leverage effects in line with what is observed in the sample, and with other observations from the literature.
Ambrogio Cesa-Bianchi and Mr. Alessandro Rebucci
This paper develops a model featuring both a macroeconomic and a financial friction that speaks to the interaction between monetary and macro-prudential policies. There are two main results. First, real interest rate rigidities in a monopolistic banking system have an asymmetric impact on financial stability: they increase the probability of a financial crisis (relative to the case of flexible interest rate) in response to contractionary shocks to the economy, while they act as automatic macro-prudential stabilizers in response to expansionary shocks. Second, when the interest rate is the only available policy instrument, a monetary authority subject to the same constraints as private agents cannot always achieve a (constrained) efficient allocation and faces a trade-off between macroeconomic and financial stability in response to contractionary shocks. An implication of our analysis is that the weak link in the U.S. policy framework in the run up to the Global Recession was not excessively lax monetary policy after 2002, but rather the absence of an effective regulatory framework aimed at preserving financial stability.
Mr. Helge Berger, Mr. Thomas Dowling, Mr. Sergi Lanau, Mr. Mico Mrkaic, Mr. Pau Rabanal, and Marzie Taheri Sanjani
Potential output—in the sense of the GDP level or path an economy can sustain over the medium term—is a crucial benchmark for policymakers. However, it is difficult to estimate when financial “booms and busts” are driving the real economy. This paper uses a simple multivariate filtering approach to illustrate the role financial variables play in driving potential or sustainable output. The results suggest that it moves more steadily during financial “boom and bust” periods than implied by conventional HP filter estimates, which tend to more closely follow actual GDP. A two-region, multisector New Keynesian DSGE model with financial frictions sheds light on the economic forces that could be behind the results obtained from the filter. This has important implications for policymakers.
International Monetary Fund
This paper examines how durable goods and financial frictions shape the business cycle of a small open economy subject to shocks to trend and transitory shocks. In the data, nondurable consumption is not as volatile as income for both developed and emerging market economies. The simulation of the model implies that shocks to trend play a less important role than previously documented. Financial frictions improve the ability of the model to match some key business cycle properties of emerging economies. A countercyclical borrowing premium interacts with the nature of durable goods delivering highly volatile consumption and very countercyclical net exports.
Sophia Chen
I study whether firms' reliance on intangible assets is an important determinant of financing constraints. I construct new measures of firm-level physical and intangible assets using accounting information on U.S. public firms. I find that firms with a higher share of intangible assets in total assets start smaller, grow faster, and have higher Tobin’s q. Asset tangibility predicts firm dynamics and Tobin’s q up to 30 years but has diminishing predicative power. I develop a model of endogenous financial constraints in which firm size and value are limited by the enforceability of financial contracts. Asset tangibility matters because physical and intangible assets differ in their residual value when the contract is repudiated. This mechanism is qualitatively important to explain stylized facts of firm dynamics and Tobin’s q.
Mr. Sonali Das and Mr. Volodymyr Tulin
This paper studies private investment in India against the backdrop of a significant investment decline over the past decade. We analyze the potential causes of weaker investment at the firm level, using both firm-level financial statements and a novel dataset on firms’ investment project decisions, and find that financial frictions have played a role in the slowdown. Firms with higher financial leverage invest less, as do firms with lower earnings relative to their interest expenses. Consistent with the notion of credit constraints leading to pro-cyclical investment, we also find that firms with higher leverage are (i) less likely to undertake new investment projects, (ii) less likely to complete investment projects once begun, and (iii) undertake shorter-term investment projects.
Marzie Taheri Sanjani
This paper estimates a New Keynesian DSGE model with an explicit financial intermediary sector. Having measures of financial stress, such as the spread between lending and borrowing, enables the model to capture the impact of the financial crisis in a more direct and efficient way. The model fits US post-war macroeconomic data well, and shows that financial shocks play a greater role in explaining the volatility of macroeconomic variables than marginal efficiency of investment (MEI) shocks.