The financial crisis, originated from the collapse of US housing markets in 2008, reverberates around the world. Its destructive force was felt nowhere more keenly than Western Europe. Indeed, it continues to mire in financial volatility as the debt problem contagiously spreads around the periphery Euro area. Taking a wider historical view of the evolution over the recent decades of the North Atlantic economy, comprising North America and Western Europe, we argue that while trade links were in relative stasis, the increasing and uniquely-close Transatlantic financial relationship was a crucial conduit in transmitting US shocks into global ones.
Stephen Cecchetti, Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli, and Mr. Machiko Narita
Using firm-level data for approximately 1,000 bank and nonbank financial institutions in 22 countries over the past 15 years we study the impact of prolonged monetary policy easing on risk-taking behavior. We find that the leverage ratio, as well as other measures of firm-level vulnerability, increases for banks and nonbanks as domestic monetary policy easing persists. Cross-border effects are also notable. We find effects of roughly similar magnitude on foreign financial sector firms when the U.S. eases policy. Results appear robust to a variety of specifications, and to be non-linear, with risk-taking behavior rising most quickly at the onset of monetary policy easing.
The size of the U.S. economy and, in particular, the global dominance of its financial markets creates uniquely large policy spillovers. Concerns that the end of QE2 could lead to a rapid reversal of emerging market capital flows appear overblown. A credible plan for a gradual U.S. fiscal consolidation would likely have limited short-term spillovers and substantial longer-term benefits. Overall, U.S. and foreign goals appear better aligned for U.S. fiscal and financial policies than for monetary policies. Fiscal consolidation and sounder financial regulation will help.