Annual Research Conference
The Good. The Bad. The Ugly
The Annual Research Conference 2019:
The Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference celebrated its 20th anniversary November 7–8. This year’s conference focused on “Debt: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly” covering household, corporate, and public debt.
Debt measurement and sustainability were a common thread across both academic and policy sessions. Researchers and policymakers alike argued that standard accounting identities or the simple debt-to-GDP ratio were insufficient to assess indebtedness or evaluate debt sustainability. While interest and growth rates had been often negative in the past—suggesting smaller costs of debt—the lively discussions, including the session with Olivier Blanchard and Kenneth Rogoff, revealed disagreements on the implications of this empirical regularity for policymaking, particularly at the current juncture.
In his Mundell-Fleming Lecture, Jeremy Stein took up the question of what policy could do to dampen credit cycles. He argued that sentiment plays an important role in driving credit booms and busts. While central banks already pay attention to sentiment, it remains unclear how strongly it should affect setting policy rates. Stein further emphasized that macroprudential policies could be insufficient to address financial stability concerns, especially when the unregulated financial system is large.
Interested in learning more about the Annual Research Conference? Visit the conference website for links to videos of Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s opening remarks, Stein’s Mundell-Fleming Lecture, and the discussion featuring Blanchard and Rogoff, as well as links to all academic papers presented at the conference.