Asia and Pacific > Korea, Republic of

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Mr. Sohrab Rafiq
Korea’s stars tell of an economy saddled with a real neutral rate (r-star) that has declined significantly in recent decades and is currently below zero. This reflects a significant decline in trend growth, and two large financial crises that triggered significant shifts in the saving-investment balance. Larger fiscal deficits and frothy financial conditions since 2012 have helped offset rising demand for safer assets, preventing the neutral rate from falling further. Nonetheless, the fall in the neutral rate, coupled with its effects on asset returns, has complicated the task of monetary policy stabilization. Korea’s neutral rate is likely to remain low over the medium-term and could fall further, reflecting a structural savings-investment imbalance owing to declining productivity and a rotation in demographics increasing the demand for precautionary saving and convenience yield, and widening the capital risk premia. The COVID pandemic risks magnifying these trends.
The COVID-19 crisis induced an unprecedented launch of unconventional monetary policy through asset purchase programs (APPs) by emerging market and developing economies. This paper presents a new dataset of APP announcements and implementation from March until August 2020 for 27 emerging markets and 8 small advanced economies. APPs’ effects on bond yields, exchange rates, equities, and debt spreads are estimated using different methodologies. The results confirm that APPs were successful in significantly reducing bond yields in EMDEs, and these effects were stronger than those of policy rate cuts, suggesting that such UMP could be important tools for EMDEs during financial market stress.
Katharina Bergant, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Mr. Niels-Jakob H Hansen, and Mr. Damiano Sandri
We show that macroprudential regulation can considerably dampen the impact of global financial shocks on emerging markets. More specifically, a tighter level of regulation reduces the sensitivity of GDP growth to VIX movements and capital flow shocks. A broad set of macroprudential tools contribute to this result, including measures targeting bank capital and liquidity, foreign currency mismatches, and risky forms of credit. We also find that tighter macroprudential regulation allows monetary policy to respond more countercyclically to global financial shocks. This could be an important channel through which macroprudential regulation enhances macroeconomic stability. These findings on the benefits of macroprudential regulation are particularly notable since we do not find evidence that stricter capital controls provide similar gains.
Mr. Gee Hee Hong, Anne Oeking, Mr. Kenneth H Kang, and Chang Yong Rhee
Asian countries have high demand for U.S. dollars and are sensitive to U.S. dollar funding costs. An important, but often overlooked, component of these costs is the basis spread in the cross-currency swap market that emerges when there are deviations from covered interest parity (CIP). CIP deviations mean that investors need to pay a premium to borrow U.S. dollars or other currencies on a hedged basis via cross-currency swap markets. These deviations can be explained by regulatory changes since the global financial crisis, which have limited arbitrage opportunities and country-specific factors that contribute to a mismatch in the demand and supply of U.S. dollars. We find that an increase in the basis spread tightens financial conditions in net debtor countries, while easing financial conditions in net creditor countries. The main reason is that net debtor countries are, in general, unable to substitute smoothly to other domestic funding channels. Policies that promote reliable alternative funding sources, such as long-term corporate bond market or stable long-term investors, including a “hedging counterpart of last resort,” can help stabilize financial intermediation when U.S. dollar funding markets come under stress.
Kevin Clinton, Mr. R. S Craig, Mr. Douglas Laxton, and Hou Wang
Adoption of inflation targeting by the Bank of Korea (BOK) in 1998 contributed to low and stable inflation. However, after the global financial crisis (GFC) monetary policy faced more challenging conditions. Inflation slipped below the target range in 2012 and remains below it despite a cut in the target to 2 percent in 2016. Policy also became more complex with the addition of financial stability to the central bank’s mandate. To address these challenges, this paper proposes a two-pronged approach to strengthen the effectiveness with which monetary policy can meet its objectives: first, enhanced communication on how the target will be achieved over the medium-term, building on a forecasting and policy analysis system; and, second, by clarifying the complementary role of macroprudential policy in containing financial stability risks so that monetary policy can focus on the inflation target. Simulation of a macro model calibrated to Korea illustrates how it can be used to provide this greater medium-term focus on achieving the inflation target and strengthen communication.


China’s bond market is destined to play an increasingly important role, both at home and abroad. And the inclusion of the country’s bonds in global indexes will be a milestone for its financial market integration, bringing big opportunities as well as challenges for policymakers and investors alike. This calls for a good understanding of China’s bond market structure, its unique characteristics, and areas where reforms are needed. This volume comprehensively analyzes the different segments of China’s bond market, from sovereign, policy bank, and credit bonds, to the rapidly growing local government bond market. It also covers bond futures, green bonds, and asset-backed securities, as well as China’s offshore market, which has played a major role in onshore market development.