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International Monetary Fund. Communications Department

Abstract

As the Federal Reserve’s statutory objectives are defined as specific goals for the U.S. economy—to pursue maximum sustainable employment and price stability—and its policy decisions are targeted to achieve these dual objectives, there might seem to be little need for its policymakers to pay attention to developments outside the United States. But such an inference would be incorrect: the state of the U.S. economy is significantly affected by the state of the world economy, and of course, actions taken by the Federal Reserve influence economic conditions abroad, which in turn spill back on the evolution of the U.S. economy and therefore must be taken into account in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy choices. This Per Jacobsson Lecture first reviews the effect of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies on the rest of the global economy, particularly emerging market economies. It then addresses prospective outcomes and possible risks associated with the normalization of the Federal Reserve’s policies. Finally, it discusses the Federal Reserve’s responsibilities in the world economy.

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.
International Monetary Fund. Legal Dept., International Monetary Fund. European Dept., and International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This report analyzes the Israeli economy and its financial system in detail. A strong macroprudential framework is believed to be an effective tool in identifying in advance and extenuating threats that arise within the financial domain. It is also stated that the present fragile global economic environment is an important opportunity for Israeli authorities to safeguard and alter their financial rules as well as devise new frameworks to overcome the monetary crisis.
International Monetary Fund
This paper discusses the Financial System Stability Assessment of Israel. The stability analysis suggests that systemic financial vulnerabilities to severe shocks in line with historical experience are manageable and in aggregate, buffers are at comparatively comfortable levels. The authorities already operate an effective, proactive, and sophisticated system of financial sector oversight, which, however, needs to be developed further in some areas. The authorities have underpinned the functioning of the financial system by enhancing the central bank liquidity framework and introducing a real-time gross settlement system.
International Monetary Fund
This staff report discusses Israel’s 2009 Article IV Consultation on economic developments and policies. The economy has been shielded from the global downturn by the absence of prior housing or bank credit booms, high household savings rates, and the fact that investment goods and consumer durables are mostly imported from abroad. Safe-haven factors that have put upward pressure on the currency appear to have eased along with the global financial sector stabilization, and concerns about the excessive strength of the shekel have not entirely been put to rest.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper reports the second event organized by the Per Jacobsson Foundation in 2008 that took place on Sunday, October 12, in the auditorium of the International Finance Corporation in Washington, DC, in the context of the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. From time to time—usually every two years—an additional event is organized in conjunction with the Bank for International Settlements and held in the context of its Annual General Meeting in Switzerland. The Per Jacobsson Foundation was established in 1964 to commemorate the work of Per Jacobsson, the third Managing Director of the IMF (1956–1963) and prior to that, the head of the Monetary and Economic Department of the Bank for International Settlements (1931–1956). The main purposes of the Foundation are to foster and stimulate discussion of international monetary problems, to support basic research in this field, and to disseminate the results of these activities.

Mr. Christopher W. Crowe
The recent housing bust has reignited interest in psychological theories of speculative excess (Shiller, 2007). I investigate this issue by identifying a segment of the U.S. population-evangelical protestants-that may be less prone to speculative motives, and uncover a significant negative relationship between their population share and house price volatility. Evangelicals' focus on Biblical prophecy could account for this difference, since it may enable them to interpret otherwise negative events as containing positive news, dampening the response of house prices to shocks. I provide evidence for this channel using a popular internet measure of "prophetic activity" and a 9/11 event study. I also analyze survey data covering religious beliefs and asset holding, and find that 'end times' beliefs are associated with a one-third decline in net worth, consistent with these beliefs providing a form of psychic insurance (Scheve and Stasavage, 2006a and 2006b) that reduces asset demand.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
Vol. 54, No. 2 includes three notable contributions from the Seventh Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference (ARC) hosted by the IMF in November 2006. Its lead paper, by Olivier Blanchard of Harvard University, is the 2006 Mundell-Fleming Lecture (delivered at the ARC), which analyzes current-account deficits in the advanced economies. Other papers in this issue look at the relationship between international financial integration and the real economy. Other papers discuss whether (or not): i) the next capital account crisis can be predicted; ii) accepted definitions of debt crises are adequate; iii) the Doha Round of trade talks (if they are ever successfully completed) will lead to preference erosion; and finally iv) there is room for political opportunism in countries deciding between money-based or exchange-rate-based stabilization programs.
Mr. James M. Boughton
Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956 and the failed attempt by France, Israel, and Britain to retake it by force constituted a serious political crisis with significant economic consequences. For the United Kingdom, it engendered a financial crisis as well. That all four of the combatants sought and obtained financial assistance from the IMF was highly unusual for the time and had a profound effect on the development of the Fund. This case study illustrates the complexities in isolating the current account as the basis for determining a balance of payments “need” and shows that the speculative attack on sterling—and the Fund’s response to it—were remarkably similar to financial crises in the 1990s.

Abstract

This book contains the proceedings of a conference held in honor of Robert P. Flood Jr. Contributors to the conference were invited to address many of the topics that Robert Flood has explored including regime switching, speculative attacks, bubbles, stock market voloatility, macro models with nominal rigidities, dual exchange rates, target zones, and rules versus discretion in monetary policy. The results, contained in this volume, include five papers on topics in international finance.