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IMF Working Papers
   Full-text available via subscription Subscription journal
     ISSN (Print) 1018-5941
     Published by International Monetary Fund Homepage  [11 journals]
  • Inflation Reports and Models: How Well Do Central Banks Really Write?
    • Abstract: We offer a novel methodology for assessing the quality of inflation reports. In contrast to the existing literature, which mostly evaluates the formal quality of these reports, we evaluate their economic content by comparing inflation factors reported by the central banks with ex-post model-identified factors. Regarding the former, we use verbal analysis and coding of inflation reports to describe inflation factors communicated by central banks in real time. Regarding the latter, we use reduced-form, new Keynesian models and revised data to approximate the true inflation factors. Positive correlations indicate that the reported inflation factors were similar to the true, model-identified ones and hence mark high-quality inflation reports. Although central bank reports on average identify inflation factors correctly, the degree of forward-looking reporting varies across factors, time, and countries.
      PubDate: 29 May 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Optimal Prudential Regulation of Banks and the Political Economy of
    • Abstract: We consider a moral hazard economy in banks and production to study how incentives for risk taking are affected by the quality of supervision. We show that low interest rates may generate excessive risk taking. Because of a pecuniary externality, the market equilibrium may not be optimal and there is a need for prudential regulation. We show that the optimal capital ratio depends on the macro-financial cycle, and that, in presence of production externalities, it should be complemented by a constraint on asset allocation. We show that the political process tends to exacerbate excessive risk taking and credit cycles.
      PubDate: 28 May 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Inflation Targeting and Fiscal Rules: Do Interactions and Sequencing
    • Abstract: The paper examines the joint impact of inflation targeting (IT) and fiscal rules (FR) on fiscal behavior and inflation in a broad panel of advanced and developing economies over the period 1990-2009. The main contribution of the paper is to show that, as suggested by the theoretical literature, interactions between FR and IT matter a great deal for policy outcomes. Specifically, the combination of FR and IT appears to deliver more disciplined macroeconomic policies than each of these institutions in isolation. In addition, the sequencing of the monetary and fiscal reforms plays a role: adopting FR before IT delivers stronger results than the reverse sequence.
      PubDate: 28 May 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Financial Constraints, Intangible Assets, and Firm Dynamics: Theory and
    • Abstract: 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.
      PubDate: 14 May 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Central Bank Financial Strength in Central America and the Dominican
    • Abstract: This paper examines the financial strength of central banks in Central America and the Dominican Republic (CADR). Some central banks are working off the effects of intervention in distressed financial institutions during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Their net income has improved since then owing to lower interest rates, a reduction in interest bearing debt, and recapitalization transfers. Claims on the government have fallen, but remain high and are typically reimbursed at below-market rates, and capital is negative when adjusting for this. Capital is sufficient to back a low inflation target given that the income position is supported by unremunerated reserve requirements. Capital is likely to increase over time, but only gradually, leaving countries vulnerable to macroeconomic risks. The capacity of CADR central banks to engage in macroeconomic stabilization would benefit from increased emphasis on low inflation as the primary objective of monetary policy and a stronger commitment by governments to recapitalization.
      PubDate: 13 May 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Are Banks Really Lazy? Evidence from Middle East and North Africa
    • Abstract: We investigate whether low loan-to-deposit (LTD) ratios and high levels of reserve balances at the central bank (or holdings of government securities) are a reflection of policy-driven factors compared to commonly cited reasons of reluctance to lend or sometimes weak investment demand in uncertain environments. We examine changes to central bank (CB) balance sheet structures as well as commercial banks’ flow of funds over the period 2007–2012. First, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) CBs play an active role in view of their size that is very large with respect to their economies compared to CBs in advanced economies. Second, under exchange rate targeting, most MENA CB balance sheets are asset-driven, holding foreign exchange (FX) reserves to support the exchange rate policy and resulting in lower loan-to-deposit (LTD) ratios in the case of unsterilized increases in FX. Third, CB policy decisions seem to be accompanied by an increase in commercial bank reserve money balances, with ensuing reduction in the LTD. Finally, if governments meet their financing needs from the banking system—whether from commercial banks or by monetary financing—commercial bank balance sheets will tend to expand, resulting in lower LTD ratios. Our analysis suggests that government and CB actions may also drive the demand for and supply of credit, which are traditionally attributed to the behavior of banks and non-financial corporates and households only. The findings offer a different interpretation of changes in CB and banks’ balance sheets, with direct implications for LTD, calling to exercise caution in recommending policy action which aim at propping up LTD to ‘appropriate’ levels in an effort to reinvigorate credit following a downturn.
      PubDate: 13 May 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Managing Credit Bubbles
    • Abstract: We study a dynamic economy where credit is limited by insufficient collateral and, as a result, investment and output are too low. In this environment, changes in investor sentiment or market expectations can give rise to credit bubbles, that is, expansions in credit that are backed not by expectations of future profits (i.e. fundamental collateral), but instead by expectations of future credit (i.e. bubbly collateral). During a credit bubble, there is more credit available for entrepreneurs: this is the crowding-in effect. But entrepreneurs must also use some of this credit to cancel past credit: this is the crowding-out effect. There is an "optimal" bubble size that trades off these two effects and maximizes long-run output and consumption. The “equilibrium” bubble size depends on investor sentiment, however, and it typically does not coincide with the “optimal” bubble size. This provides a new rationale for macroprudential policy. A lender of last resort can replicate the “optimal” bubble by taxing credit when the "equilibrium" bubble is too high, and subsidizing credit when the “equilibrium” bubble is too low. This leaning-against-the-wind policy maximizes output and consumption. Moreover, the same conditions that make this policy desirable guarantee that a lender of last resort has the resources to implement it.
      PubDate: 09 Jun 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Does Openness Matter for Financial Development in Africa?
    • Abstract: This paper analyzes the links between financial and trade openness and financial development in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. It is based on a panel dataset using methods that tackle slope heterogeneity, cross-sectional dependence and non-stationarity, important econometric problems that are often ignored in the literature. The results do not point to a general direct robust link between trade and capital account openness and financial development in SSA, once we control for other factors such as GDP per capita and inflation. But there is some indication that trade openness is more important for financial development in countries with better institutional quality. The findings might be due to a number of factors including distortions in domestic financial markets, relatively weak institutions and/or poor financial sector supervision. Thus, African policy makers should be cautious about expectations regarding immediate gains for financial development from greater international integration. Such gains are more likely to occur through indirect channels.
      PubDate: 09 Jun 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • A Simple Method to Compute Fiscal Multipliers
    • Abstract: Fiscal multipliers are important tools for macroeconomic projections and policy design. In many countries, little is known about the size of multipliers, as data availability limits the scope for empirical research. For these countries, we propose a simple method—dubbed the “bucket approach”—to come up with reasonable multiplier estimates. The approach bunches countries into groups (or “buckets”) with similar multiplier values, based on their characteristics. It also takes into account the effect of some temporary factors, such as the state of the business cycle.
      PubDate: 09 Jun 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • The Case for a Long-Run Inflation Target of Four Percent
    • Abstract: Many central banks target an inflation rate near two percent. This essay argues that policymakers would do better to target four percent inflation. A four percent target would ease the constraints on monetary policy arising from the zero bound on interest rates, with the result that economic downturns would be less severe. This benefit would come at minimal cost, because four percent inflation does not harm an economy significantly.
      PubDate: 09 Jun 2014 09:00:00 EST
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