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Mr. Alberto Behar and Ramin Hassan
In terms of size, the net income balance (IB) is comparable to the trade balance (TB) for many countries. Yet the role of the IB in mitigating external vulnerabilities or complicating external adjustment remains underexplored. This paper studies the role of the IB in stabilizing or destabilizing the current account over the cycle and in crises. Our results show that, due to a negative correlation with the TB, the IB significantly dampens the time series volatility of the current account for most countries. However, the IB generally does not improve during crisis episodes, so current account adjustment occurs entirely through improvements in the TB. The paper also estimates IB semi-elasticities with respect to the exchange rate (ER). Semi-elasticities are small for most countries, so the IB is generally not a significant channel through which the ER stabilizes the current account, and trade-based semi-elasticities are, with some important exceptions, good proxies for current account semi-elasticities used in external sector assessments.
Weicheng Lian, Mr. Andrea F Presbitero, and Ursula Wiriadinata
As interest rate-growth differentials (r-g) turned negative in many countries, governments consider pursuing fiscal expansion and the potential risks involved. Using a large sample of advanced and emerging economies, our analysis suggests that high public debts can lead to adverse future r-g dynamics. Specifically, countries with higher initial public debt experience (i) a shorter duration of negative r-g episodes and a higher probability of reversal, (ii) higher average r-g, and (iii) a more right-skewed r-g distribution, that implies higher down-side risks. Furthermore, high-debt countries experience larger increases in interest rates in response to (iv) an unexpected decline in domestic output and (v) an increase of global volatility. Results are stronger when public debts are denominated in foreign currencies.
Mr. Thomas J Sargent, Mr. George Hall, Mr. Martin Ellison, Mr. Andrew Scott, Mr. Harold James, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mark De Broeck, Mr. Nicolas End, Ms. Marina Marinkov, and Vitor Gaspar

Abstract

World War I created a set of forces that affected the political arrangements and economies of all the countries involved. This period in global economic history between World War I and II offers rich material for studying international monetary and sovereign debt policies. Debt and Entanglements between the Wars focuses on the experiences of the United States, United Kingdom, four countries in the British Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Newfoundland), France, Italy, Germany, and Japan, offering unique insights into how political and economic interests influenced alliances, defaults, and the unwinding of debts. The narratives presented show how the absence of effective international collaboration and resolution mechanisms inflicted damage on the global economy, with disastrous consequences.

Silvia Albrizio, Sangyup Choi, Davide Furceri, and Chansik Yoon
How does domestic monetary policy in systemic countries spillover to the rest of the world? This paper examines the transmission channel of domestic monetary policy in the cross-border context. We use exogenous shocks to monetary policy in systemically important economies, including the U.S., and local projections to estimate the dynamic effect of monetary policy shocks on bilateral cross-border bank lending. We find robust evidence that an increase in funding costs following an exogenous monetary tightening leads to a statistically and economically significant decline in cross-border bank lending. The effect is weakened during periods of high uncertainty. In contrast, the effect is found to not vary according to the degree of borrower country riskiness, further weakening support for the international portfolio rebalancing channel.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

The IMF’s 2019 External Sector Report shows that global current account balances stand at about 3 percent of global GDP. Of this, about 35–45 percent are now deemed excessive. Meanwhile, net credit and debtor positions are at historical peaks and about four times larger than in the early 1990s. Short-term financing risks from the current configuration of external imbalances are generally contained, as debtor positions are concentrated in reserve-currency-issuing advanced economies. An intensification of trade tensions or a disorderly Brexit outcome—with further repercussions for global growth and risk aversion—could, however, affect other economies that are highly dependent on foreign demand and external financing. With output near potential in most systemic economies, a well-calibrated macroeconomic and structural policy mix is necessary to support rebalancing. Recent trade policy actions are weighing on global trade flows, investment, and growth, including through confidence effects and the disruption of global supply chains, with no discernible impact on external imbalances thus far.