Occasional papers published in 2008

Communication device to a broad audience

Our Occasional Paper Series (OPS) disseminates work carried out by, as a rule, ECB staff on subjects that relate to the main tasks and functions of the ECB and the ESCB. Occasional Papers (OPs) are addressed to a wide audience, including other policy-makers, financial analysts, academics, the media and the interested general public. Understanding the papers will normally require some prior knowledge of the topic.

No. 99
7 November 2008
The ECB and IMF indicators for the macro-prudential analysis of the banking sector: a comparison of the two approaches
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

C82 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology, Computer Programs→Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data, Data Access

G20 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→General

G21 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Banks, Depository Institutions, Micro Finance Institutions, Mortgages

G28 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Government Policy and Regulation

G32 : Financial Economics→Corporate Finance and Governance→Financing Policy, Financial Risk and Risk Management, Capital and Ownership Structure, Value of Firms, Goodwill

Abstract

In January 2007 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published, on an ad hoc basis, a series of financial soundness indicators (FSIs) based on a common methodology (the IMF compilation Guide) for 62 countries, including all 27 European Union countries. The European Central Bank (ECB), jointly with the Banking Supervision Committee (BSC), has an interest in monitoring the development of this IMF initiative in the context of its own work on compiling macro-prudential indicators (MPIs). The aim of this paper is to identify the main similarities and differences between the FSIs and the MPIs for national banking sectors, as the overlap between MPIs and FSIs in this sub-set is greatest. As a result of the recently issued amendments to the IMF compilation Guide for FSIs, some key methodological differences between the two approaches have been eliminated and it is therefore expected that the figures published by the two institutions will soon converge. The paper concludes with an investigation of the few other areas where the remaining differences could potentially be narrowed.

No. 98
7 October 2008
Will oil prices decline over the long run?
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

Q41 : Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics, Environmental and Ecological Economics→Energy→Demand and Supply, Prices

Q42 : Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics, Environmental and Ecological Economics→Energy→Alternative Energy Sources

Q43 : Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics, Environmental and Ecological Economics→Energy→Energy and the Macroeconomy

Abstract

At present, oil markets appear to be behaving in a fashion similar to that in the late 1970s and early 1980s when oil prices rose sharply over an extended period. Furthermore, like at that time, analysts are split on whether such increases will persist or reverse, and if so by how much. The present paper argues that the similarities between the two episodes are not as strong as they might appear at first sight, and that the likelihood of sharp reversals in prices is not particularly great. There are a number of reasons in support of the view that it is unlikely that the first two decades of this century will mimic the last two decades of the previous century. First, oil demand is likely to grow significantly in line with strong economic growth in non-OECD countries. Second, on the supply side, OPEC is likely to enhance its control over markets over the next two decades, as supply increases in newly opened areas will only partially offset declining rates of production in other geologically mature non-OPEC oil regions. Moreover, while concerns about climate change will spur global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, these efforts are not expected to reduce oil demand. Finally, although there is much talk about alternative fuels, few of these are economically viable at the prices currently envisioned, and given the structural impediments, there is a reduced likelihood that the market will be able to generate sufficient quantities of these alternative fuels over the forecast horizon. The above factors imply that oil prices are likely to continue to exceed the USD 70 to USD 90 range over the long term.

No. 96
30 September 2008
The monetary presentation of the euro area balance of payments
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

E51 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Money Supply, Credit, Money Multipliers

F40 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→General

Abstract

This occasional paper describes the monetary presentation of the euro area balance of payments and its use. The monetary presentation is a tool for assessing the impact of balance of payments transactions involving non-bank residents on monetary developments. The paper explains in detail the principle underlying this approach, i.e. the link between the external counterpart of money, as reflected in the balance sheet of the banking sector, and the balance of payments. From a statistical perspective, it is shown that the monetary presentation of the balance of payments, which is based on international statistical standards, may be applied in any country or currency union. With regard to euro area statistics, the paper elaborates on the practical implementation of the monetary presentation, while also describing a few approximations and remaining statistical challenges. Finally, the paper assesses how the monetary presentation of the balance of payments has been used for analysing monetary developments in the euro area, and highlights the significant impact of balance of payments transactions on monetary dynamics in certain periods.

No. 97
19 September 2008
Globalisation and the competitiveness of the euro area
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

F15 : International Economics→Trade→Economic Integration

F43 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Economic Growth of Open Economies

O52 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economywide Country Studies→Europe

Abstract

Against the background of increasing competition and other signifi cant structural changes implied by globalisation, maintaining and enhancing competitiveness has evolved into one of the prime concerns in most countries. Following up on previous work (see in particular ECB Occasional Papers No. 30 and No. 55), this Occasional Paper examines the latest developments and prospects for the competitiveness and trade performance of the euro area and the euro area countries. Starting from an analysis of most commonly used, traditional competitiveness indicators, the paper largely confirms the findings of previous studies that there have been substantial adjustments in euro area trade. Euro area firms have taken advantage of the new opportunities offered by globalisation, and have at the same time been increasingly challenged by emerging economies. This is primarily refl ected in the loss of export market shares which have been recorded over the last decade. While these can partly be related to the losses in the euro area's price competitiveness, further adjustment also seems warranted with regard to the export specialisation. Compared with other advanced competitors, the euro area remains relatively more specialised in labourintensive categories of goods and has shown only a few signs of a stronger specialisation in research-intensive goods. Nevertheless, the paper generally calls for a more cautious approach when assessing the prospects for euro area competitiveness, as globalisation has made it increasingly difficult to define and measure competitiveness. Stressing the need to take a broader view on competitiveness, specifically with a stronger emphasis on productivity performance, the paper also introduces a more elaborate framework that takes into account the interactions between country-specificfactors and firm-level productivity. It thus makes it possible to construct more broadly defined competitiveness measures..

No. 95
8 September 2008
Financial stability challenges in candidate countries managing the transition to deeper and more market-oriented financial systems
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

F32 : International Economics→International Finance→Current Account Adjustment, Short-Term Capital Movements

F41 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Open Economy Macroeconomics

G21 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Banks, Depository Institutions, Micro Finance Institutions, Mortgages

G28 : Financial Economics→Financial Institutions and Services→Government Policy and Regulation

Abstract

This paper reviews financial stability challenges in the EU candidate countries Croatia, Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It examines the financial sectors in these three economies, which, while at very different stages of development and embedded in quite diverse economic settings, are all in a process of rapid financial deepening. This manifests itself most clearly in the rapid pace of growth in credit to the private sector. This process of financial deepening is largely a natural and welcome catching-up phenomenon, but it has also increased the credit risks borne by the banking sectors in the three economies. These credit risks are compounded by the widespread use of foreign currency-denominated or -indexed loans, leaving unhedged bank customers exposed to potential swings in exchange rates or foreign interest rates. Moreover, these financial risks form part of a broader nexus of vulnerabilities in the economies concerned, in particular the external vulnerabilities arising from increasing private sector external indebtedness. That said, the paper also finds that the authorities in the three countries have taken several policy actions to reduce these financial and external vulnerabilities and to strengthen the resilience of the financial sectors.

No. 94
8 September 2008
The changing role of the exchange rate in a globalised economy
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

E3 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles

F15 : International Economics→Trade→Economic Integration

F31 : International Economics→International Finance→Foreign Exchange

Abstract

In addition to its direct effects on the global trading and production structure, the ongoing process of globalisation may have important implications for the interaction of exchange rates and the overall economy. This paper presents evidence regarding possible changes in the role of exchange rates in a more globalised economy. First, it analyses the link between exchange rates and prices, showing that there is at most a moderate decline in exchange rate pass-through for the euro area. Next, it turns to the effect of exchange rate changes on trade flows. The findings indicate that the responsiveness of euro area exports to exchange rate changes may have declined somewhat as a result of globalisation, reflecting mainly shifts in the geographical and sectoral composition of trade flows. The paper also provides a firm-level analysis of the impact of exchange rate changes on corporate profits, which suggests that overall this relationship appears to be relatively stable over time, although there are important cross-country differences. In addition, it studies the overall impact of exchange rates on GDP and the potential role of valuation effects as a transmission channel in the case of the euro area.

No. 93
7 August 2008
Russia, EU enlargement and the euro
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

F14 : International Economics→Trade→Empirical Studies of Trade

F15 : International Economics→Trade→Economic Integration

F21 : International Economics→International Factor Movements and International Business→International Investment, Long-Term Capital Movements

F36 : International Economics→International Finance→Financial Aspects of Economic Integration

Abstract

This paper reviews selected aspects of economic relations between the EU and Russia, focusing on the impact that the last two waves of EU enlargement have had on Russia, as well as the role of the euro in Russia. The analysis suggests that if EU enlargement has had any diversion effects on trade between the EU and Russia at all, they have been minimal, while robust growth in both the EU and Russia, as well as high oil and gas prices, has boosted trade. Likewise, FDI to and from Russia has increased, with the direct impact of enlargement again difficult to disentangle from other factors. Use of the euro by Russian residents and authorities in international transactions has increased, albeit at an uneven pace. While, in general, the US dollar remains the major foreign currency used by Russian residents, the euro has gained importance as an anchor and reserve currency in Russian exchange rate policies. This has happened in the context of an overall monetary policy strategy aiming at a gradual shift from an exchange rate-oriented monetary policy to inflation targeting.

No. 92
23 July 2008
The Gulf Cooperation Council countries: economic structures, recent developments and role in the global economy
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

F14 : International Economics→Trade→Empirical Studies of Trade

E60 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→General

N15 : Economic History→Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics, Industrial Structure, Growth, Fluctuations→Asia including Middle East

O53 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economywide Country Studies→Asia including Middle East

Q40 : Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics, Environmental and Ecological Economics→Energy→General

F40 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→General

F30 : International Economics→International Finance→General

Abstract

In the wake of high and rising oil prices since 2003, the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have seen dynamic economic development, enhancing their role in the global economy as investors and trade partners. Real GDP growth has been buoyant, with non- oil activity expanding faster than oil GDP. Macroeconomic developments have also been characterised by large fiscal and current account surpluses as a result of rising oil revenues, notwithstanding fiscal expansion and rapid import growth. The most significant macroeconomic challenge faced by GCC countries is rising inflation in an environment in which the contribution of monetary policy to containing inflationary pressure is constrained by the exchange rate regimes. The overall favourable macroeconomic backdrop of recent years has provided GCC countries with an opportunity to tackle long-standing structural challenges, such as the diversification of oil-centred economies and reform of the labour markets. In a global context, apart from developing into a pole of global economic growth, GCC countries - together with other oil-exporting countries - have become a major net supplier of capital in global markets, second only to East Asia. As a result, they have become part of the international policy debate on global imbalances. Furthermore, GCC countries are home to some of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, which raises several financial stability issues. Their role as trade partners has also increased, with the European Union being the only major region in the world maintaining a significant surplus in bilateral trade with the GCC. GCC countries are also key players in global energy markets in terms of production, exports and the availability of spare capacity. Their role is likely to become even more pivotal in the future as they command vast oil and gas reserves and benefit from relatively low costs in exploiting oil reserves.

No. 90
4 July 2008
Wage growth dispersion across the euro area countries: some stylised facts

Abstract

JEL Classification

E24 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Employment, Unemployment, Wages, Intergenerational Income Distribution, Aggregate Human Capital

E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation

C10 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General→General

Abstract

This study presents some stylised facts on wage growth differentials across the euro area countries in the years before and in the first eight years after the introduction of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999. The study shows that wage growth dispersion, i.e. the degree of difference in wage growth at a given point in time, has been on a clear downward trend since the early 1980s. However, wage growth dispersion across the euro area countries still appears to be higher than the degree of wage growth dispersion within West Germany, the United States, Italy and Spain. Differences in wage growth rates between individual euro area countries and the euro area in the years before and in the first eight years after the introduction of EMU appear to be positively related to the respective differences between their Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) infl ation and average HICP inflation in the euro area. Conversely, relative wage growth differentials across euro area countries have been somewhat unrelated to relative productivity growth differentials. Some countries combine positive wage growth differentials and negative productivity growth differentials vis-

No. 91
2 July 2008
The impact of sovereign wealth funds on global financial markets
Eurosystem Monetary Transmission Network

Abstract

JEL Classification

F30 : International Economics→International Finance→General

F40 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→General

G15 : Financial Economics→General Financial Markets→International Financial Markets

Abstract

wealth funds (SWFs) on global financial markets. It presents back-of-the-envelope calculations which simulate the potential impact of a transfer of traditional foreign exchange reserves to SWFs on global capital flows. If SWFs behave as CAPM-type investors and thus allocate foreign assets according to market capitalisation rather than liquidity considerations, official portfolios reduce their "bias" towards the major reserve currencies. As a result, more capital flows "downhill" from rich to less wealthy economies, in line with standard neoclassical predictions. More specifically, it is found that under the assumption of SWFs investing according to market capitalisation weights, the euro area and the United States could be subject to net capital outflows while Japan and the emerging markets would attract net capital inflows. It is also shown that these findings are sensitive to alternative assumptions for the portfolio objectives of SWFs. Finally, the paper discusses whether a change in net capital flows triggered by SWFs could have an impact on stock prices and bond yields. Based on an event study approach, no evidence can be found for a stock price impact of non-commercially motivated stock sales by Norway's Government Pension Fund.

No. 89
30 June 2008
An analysis of youth unemployment in the euro area

Abstract

JEL Classification

I2 : Health, Education, and Welfare→Education and Research Institutions

J11 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Demographic Economics→Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

J13 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Demographic Economics→Fertility, Family Planning, Child Care, Children, Youth

J21 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Demand and Supply of Labor→Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

J64 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers→Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

Abstract

The paper starts by presenting some stylised facts on youth unemployment over the last two decades, both at the euro area and the country level. It shows that despite declining considerably over the last few years, youth unemployment has remained at a high level relative to other age groups in most euro area countries. The paper finds that there is a positive relationship between the share of young people in the total population and the youth unemployment rate, i.e. the smaller the share of young people in the population, the lower the risk of them being unemployed. At the same time, economic conditions are negatively correlated with the youth unemployment rate, i.e. the youth unemployment rate increases when the economic situation worsens. Moreover, robust results across the regression scenarios show that higher employment protection and minimum wages imply a higher youth unemployment rate, while active labour market policies (ALMPs) tend to reduce it. The results also indicate that the increasing share of services employment in total employment is helping to reduce unemployment among young persons. Furthermore, the increase in the youth inactivity rate, which is mainly due to the fact that there are more young people in education, is also linked to the overall decline in youth unemployment. Finally, as regards education, the results indicate that the number of years of education, the number of young people with vocational training and, to a lesser extent high scores in the PISA study, are associated with lower youth unemployment rates. The share of the young population not in school, however, is positively correlated with the unemployment rate. As youth unemployment is subject to certain country- specific features, each country should identify the relevant underlying sources of youth unemployment and react accordingly. Governments can make a positive contribution to the transition of young persons from education to labour market by a well-functioning education ...

No. 87
25 June 2008
Labour supply and employment in the euro area countries: developments and challenges

Abstract

JEL Classification

E5 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

J1 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Demographic Economics

J2 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Demand and Supply of Labor

J6 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

Abstract

The aim of this report is to describe and analyse the main developments in labour supply and its determinants in the euro area, review the links between labour supply and labour market institutions, assess how well labour supply reflects the demand for labour in the euro area and identify the future challenges for policy-makers.

No. 85
25 June 2008
Benchmarking the Lisbon Strategy

Abstract

JEL Classification

D02 : Microeconomics→General→Institutions: Design, Formation, and Operations

P11 : Economic Systems→Capitalist Systems→Planning, Coordination, and Reform

P16 : Economic Systems→Capitalist Systems→Political Economy

C43 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics→Index Numbers and Aggregation

C61 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Mathematical Methods, Programming Models, Mathematical and Simulation Modeling→Optimization Techniques, Programming Models, Dynamic Analysis

Abstract

This paper reviews the governance framework of the Lisbon Strategy and discusses the specific option of increasing the role of benchmarking as a means of improving the implementation record of structural reforms in the European Union. Against this background, the paper puts forward a possible avenue for developing a strong form of quantitative benchmarking, namely ranking. The ranking methodology relies on the construction of a synthetic indicator using the "benefit of the doubt" approach, which acknowledges differences in emphasis among Member States with regard to structural reform priorities. The methodology is applied by using the structural indicators that have been commonly agreed by the governments of the Member States, but could also be used for ranking exercises on the basis of other indicators.

No. 88
17 June 2008
Real convergence, financial markets and the current account - emerging Europe versus emerging Asia

Abstract

JEL Classification

F15 : International Economics→Trade→Economic Integration

F21 : International Economics→International Factor Movements and International Business→International Investment, Long-Term Capital Movements

O16 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economic Development→Financial Markets, Saving and Capital Investment, Corporate Finance and Governance

O52 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economywide Country Studies→Europe

O53 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economywide Country Studies→Asia including Middle East

Abstract

Global financial integration has been associated with divergent patterns of real convergence and the current account in emerging markets. While countries in emerging Asia have been running sizeable current account surpluses, countries in emerging Europe have been facing large current account deficits. In this paper we test for the relevance of financial market characteristics in explaining this divergence in the catching-up process in Europe and Asia. We assume that the two regions constitute distinct convergence clubs, with the euro area and the United States respectively at their core. In line with the theoretical literature, we find that better developed and more integrated financial markets increase emerging markets' ability to borrow abroad. Moreover, the degree of financial integration within the convergence clubs - as opposed to the state of financial integration in the global economy - and the extent of reserve accumulation are significant factors in explaining the divergent patterns of real convergence and the current account in the regions under review.

No. 86
12 June 2008
Real convergence and the determinants of growth in EU candidate and potential candidate countries: a panel data approach

Abstract

JEL Classification

F15 : International Economics→Trade→Economic Integration

F43 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Economic Growth of Open Economies

O16 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economic Development→Financial Markets, Saving and Capital Investment, Corporate Finance and Governance

O43 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity→Institutions and Growth

O47 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity→Measurement of Economic Growth, Aggregate Productivity, Cross-Country Output Convergence

O52 : Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth→Economywide Country Studies→Europe

Abstract

The EU candidate and potential candidate countries have made considerable progress in economic transition and integration into the world economy within less than two decades. Nevertheless, gaps in terms of income per capita relative to the euro area remain large. This suggests that the challenges of real convergence will remain relevant for the region even in the medium and long term. This paper therefore focuses on real convergence and its determinants in the candidate and potential candidate countries. The analysis reveals that total factor productivity growth has been the main driver of convergence, followed by capital deepening, whereas labour has contributed only marginally to economic growth. There is evidence of conditional convergence in the transition countries of central, eastern and south-eastern Europe. More specifi cally, controlling for the quality of institutions, the extent of market reforms and macroeconomic policies, there is a significant and negative link between the initial level of GDP and subsequent growth. Labour productivity has improved in most countries, while employment and participation rates have been falling. Structural changes have resulted in, at least temporarily, increasing labour market mismatches. Investment rates have been rising rapidly in recent years, and foreign direct investment has been found to have a positive impact on total investment. Investment in human capital is still at a relatively low level compared with the euro area average. Thus, in order to sustain the positive developments observed in the past, further improvements are needed in terms of labour productivity and utilisation, as well as in terms of physical and human capital accumulation.

No. 84
8 May 2008
Short-term forecasting of GDP using large monthly datasets: a pseudo real-time forecast evaluation exercise

Abstract

JEL Classification

E37 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

C53 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Econometric Modeling→Forecasting and Prediction Methods, Simulation Methods

Abstract

This paper evaluates different models for the short-term forecasting of real GDP growth in ten selected European countries and the euro area as a whole. Purely quarterly models are compared with models designed to exploit early releases of monthly indicators for the nowcast and forecast of quarterly GDP growth. Amongst the latter, we consider small bridge equations and forecast equations in which the bridging between monthly and quarterly data is achieved through a regression on factors extracted from large monthly datasets. The forecasting exercise is performed in a simulated real-time context, which takes account of publication lags in the individual series. In general, we find that models that exploit monthly information outperform models that use purely quarterly data and, amongst the former, factor models perform best.

No. 81
13 March 2008
Measuring financial integration in new EU Member States

Abstract

JEL Classification

C32 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models, Multiple Variables→Time-Series Models, Dynamic Quantile Regressions, Dynamic Treatment Effect Models, Diffusion Processes

F30 : International Economics→International Finance→General

G12 : Financial Economics→General Financial Markets→Asset Pricing, Trading Volume, Bond Interest Rates

Abstract

The study considers three broad categories of financial integration measures: (i) price-based, which capture discrepancies in asset prices across different national markets; (ii) news-based, which analyse the impact that common factors have on the return process of an asset; (iii) quantity-based, which aim at quantifying the effects of frictions on the demand for and supply of securities. This paper finds that financial markets in the new EU Member States (plus Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia) are significantly less integrated than those of the euro area. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence that the process of integration is well under way and has accelerated since accession to the EU.

No. 83
12 March 2008
The predictability of monetary policy

Abstract

JEL Classification

E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy

E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies

E61 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Policy Objectives, Policy Designs and Consistency, Policy Coordination

Abstract

Current best practice in central banking views a high level of monetary policy predictability as desirable. A clear distinction, however, has to be made between short-term and longer-term predictability. While short-term predictability can be narrowly defined as the ability of the public to anticipate monetary policy decisions correctly over short horizons, the broader, ultimately more meaningful concept of longer-term predictability also encompasses the ability of the private sector to understand the monetary policy framework of a central bank, i.e. its objectives and systematic behaviour in reacting to different circumstances and contingencies. In this broader sense, longer-term predictability is also closely related to the credibility of the central bank. This paper reviews the main conceptual issues relating to predictability, both in its short and longer-term dimensions, and discusses how a transparent monetary policy strategy can be - and indeed has been - instrumental in achieving this purpose. This latter aspect is investigated in an overview of the empirical literature, highlighting how financial markets have been increasingly able to correctly anticipate monetary policy decisions for a number of large central banks, including the ECB. The paper also reviews several possible empirical proxies for the less-explored concept of longer-term predictability, which is inherently more difficult to measure.

No. 82
12 March 2008
The sustainability of China's exchange rate policy and capital account liberalisation

Abstract

JEL Classification

F10 : International Economics→Trade→General

F21 : International Economics→International Factor Movements and International Business→International Investment, Long-Term Capital Movements

F31 : International Economics→International Finance→Foreign Exchange

F32 : International Economics→International Finance→Current Account Adjustment, Short-Term Capital Movements

P48 : Economic Systems→Other Economic Systems→Political Economy, Legal Institutions, Property Rights, Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, Regional Studies

Abstract

This paper deals with two related issues: the sustainability of China's exchange rate regime and the opening up of its capital account. The exchange rate discussion deliberately passes over the issue of the “equilibrium” value of the renminbi and its alleged undervaluation - typically at the heart of the current policy debate - and focuses instead on the domestic costs of the current regime and the potential risks to domestic financial stability in the long run. The paper argues that the renminbi exchange rate should be increasingly determined by market forces and that administrative controls should be progressively relinquished. The exchange rate is obviously linked to well-functioning and efficient capital markets, which require no barriers to capital flows. Thus, exchange rate reform has to be correctly sequenced with reform of the capital account to avoid disruptive capital flows. The paper discusses China's twin surpluses of the current and capital accounts and attempts to identify the drivers of this “anomalous” external position. The pragmatic strategy pursued by the Chinese authorities in the aftermath of the Asian crisis encouraged FDI inflows and favoured the accumulation of a large stock of foreign exchange reserves. Combined with a relatively weak institutional setting, these factors have been important determinants of the pattern and composition of the country's capital flows and international investment position. Finally, the paper speculates on the outlook for Chinese capital flows should barriers to capital movements be lifted. It argues that whether China continues to supply capital to the rest of the world or eventually becomes a net borrower in international capital markets - as was the case for most of its recent history - will depend on the evolution of its institutions.

No. 80
30 January 2008
China's and India's roles in global trade and finance: twin titans for the new millennium?

Abstract

JEL Classification

E44 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Money and Interest Rates→Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy

F3 : International Economics→International Finance

C5 : Mathematical and Quantitative Methods→Econometric Modeling

Abstract

This paper analyses the integration of China and India into the global economy. To this end, it presents estimates from a gravity model to gauge the overall degree of their trade intensity and the depth of their bilateral trade linkages, as well as selected measures of revealed comparative advantage and economic distance. The paper also reviews the key characteristics of the two countries' domestic economies that are relevant to their global integration and analyses their financial linkages with the rest of the world. Four main findings stand out. First, considering trade in goods, the overall degree of China's trade intensity is higher than fundamentals would suggest, whereas the converse is true for India. Second, Chinese goods exports seem to compete increasingly with those of mature economies, while Indian exports remain more low-tech. Third, China's exports of services tend to complement its exports of goods, while India's exports are growing only in deregulated sectors, such as IT-related services. Last, China's and India's roles in the global financial system are still relatively limited and often complementary to their roles in global trade.

No. 79
22 January 2008
The working of the eurosystem: monetary policy preparations and decision-making - selected issues

Abstract

JEL Classification

E42 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Money and Interest Rates→Monetary Systems, Standards, Regimes, Government and the Monetary System, Payment Systems

E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies

F33 : International Economics→International Finance→International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions

F42 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→International Policy Coordination and Transmission

Abstract

The ECB's monetary policy has received considerable attention in recent years. This is less the case, however, for its regular monetary policy preparation and decision-making process. This paper reviews how the factors usually considered as critical for the success of a central banking system and the federal nature of the Eurosystem are intertwined with its overall design and the functioning of its committee architecture. In particular, it examines the procedures for preparing monetary policy decisions and the role of the decision-making bodies and the committees therein. We suggest that technical committees, involving all national central banks (NCBs), usefully contribute to the regular processing of a vast amount of economic, financial and monetary data, as well as to the consensus building at the level of the Governing Council. A federal organisational structure, including a two-tier committee structure with the Executive Board taking the lead in preparing the monetary policy decisions and the Governing Council in charge of the decisions with collective responsibility for them, as well as committee work at the various hierarchical levels, contributes to the efficiency of the ECB's monetary policy decision-making, and thereby facilitates the maintenance of price stability in the euro area. A fully-fledged committee structure has also contributed to the smooth integration of non-euro area Member States into the Eurosystem's monetary policy decision-making process.

No. 78
22 January 2008
A framework for assessing global imbalances

Abstract

JEL Classification

F2 : International Economics→International Factor Movements and International Business

F32 : International Economics→International Finance→Current Account Adjustment, Short-Term Capital Movements

F33 : International Economics→International Finance→International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions

F41 : International Economics→Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance→Open Economy Macroeconomics

Abstract

In this paper, we take a systematic look at global imbalances. First, we provide a definition of the phenomenon, and relate global imbalances to widening external positions of systemically important economies that reflect distortions or entail risks for the global economy. Second, we provide an operational content to this definition by measuring trends in external imbalances over the past decade and putting these in a historical perspective. We argue that three main features set today's situation apart from past episodes of growing external imbalances: (i) the emergence of new players, in particular emerging market economies such as China and India, which are quickly catching up with the advanced economies; (ii) an unprecedented wave of financial globalisation, with more integrated global financial markets and increasing opportunities for international portfolio diversification, also characterised by considerable asymmetries in the level of market completeness across countries; and (iii) the favourable global macroeconomic and financial environment, with record high global growth rates in recent years, low financial market volatility and easy global financing conditions over a long time period of time, running at least until the summer of 2007. Finally, we provide an analytical overview of the fundamental causes and drivers of global imbalances. The central argument is that the increase in imbalances has been driven by a unique combination of structural and cyclical determinants.

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