from the IMF:
IMF Research Perspectives, volume 20, number 1
Featured Policy Work
Investigating the Impact of Global Stablecoins
The provision of financial services and products is undergoing rapid transformation, including through the development of stablecoins, which seek to stabilize the price of a digital currency by linking its value to that of a pool of assets. Stablecoins can potentially serve as a means of payment and store of value, and may contribute to the development of global payment arrangements that are faster, cheaper, and more inclusive. Yet these potential benefits can only be realized if significant risks are addressed. Stablecoin initiatives built on an existing big tech platform with a global customer base may have the potential to scale rapidly, and could pose regulatory and oversight challenges and risks related to consumer protection, fair competition, and the combating of money laundering and terrorism financing, among others, as well as have a significant impact on public policy goals such as financial stability and monetary policy transmission. This paper, written jointly by G7 members, the BIS, and the IMF, including RESMF staff, scopes the causes and implications of the adoption of global stablecoins, and the potential policy efforts to rein in the risks they can bring about.
Read the full report [Archived PDF].
IMF Research Perspectives, Volume 20, Number 1 [Archived PDF]
The Mobilisation Effects of Multilateral Development Banks
by Giulia Lotti & Andrea Presbitero
Filling the investment gap to achieve the sustainable development goals is one of the most important development challenges. Multilateral development banks can play an important role through a stronger engagement to attract additional resources from the private sector. This column uses data on syndicated lending to a large set of developing countries and shows that MDBs are able to crowd in bank credit to sectors to which they lend. The role of MDBs could be relevant, as they can mobilize up to seven dollars in bank credit for each dollar invested.
Designing Central Bank Digital Currencies
by Itai Agur, Anil Ari & Giovanni Dell’Ariccia
We study the optimal design of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in an environment where agents sort into cash, CBDC and bank deposits according to their preferences over anonymity and security; and where network effects make the convenience of payment instruments dependent on the number of their users. CBDC can be designed with attributes similar to cash or deposits, and can be interest-bearing: a CBDC that closely competes with deposits depresses bank credit and output, while a cash-like CBDC may lead to the disappearance of cash. Then, the optimal CBDC design trades off bank intermediation against the social value of maintaining diverse payment instruments. When network effects matter, an interest-bearing CBDC alleviates the central bank’s tradeoff.
One Ring to Rule Them All? New Evidence on World Cycles
by Eric Monnet & Damien Puy
We estimate world cycles using a new quarterly dataset of output, credit and asset prices assembled using IMF archives and covering a large set of advanced and emerging economies since 1950. World cycles, both real and financial, exist and are generally driven by US shocks. But their impact is modest for most countries. The global financial cycle is also much weaker when looking at credit rather than asset prices. We also challenge the view that synchronization has increased over time. Although this is true for prices (goods and assets), this not true for quantities (output and credit). The world business and credit cycles were as strong during Bretton Woods (1950–1972) as during the Globalization period (1984-2006). For most countries, the way their output co-moves with the rest of the world has changed little over the last 70 years. We discuss the reasons behind these new findings and their policy implications for small open economies.
Optimal Macroprudential Policy and Asset Price Bubbles
by Nina Biljanovska, Lucyna Gornicka & Alexandros Vardoulakis
An asset bubble relaxes collateral constraints and increases borrowing by credit-constrained agents. At the same time, as the bubble deflates when constraints start binding, it amplifies downturns. We show analytically and quantitatively that the macroprudential policy should optimally respond to building asset price bubbles non-monotonically depending on the underlying level of indebtedness. If the level of debt is moderate, policy should accommodate the bubble to reduce the incidence of a binding collateral constraint. If debt is elevated, policy should lean against the bubble more aggressively to mitigate the pecuniary externalities from a deflating bubble when constraints bind.
Doing More for Less? New Evidence on Lobbying and Government Contracts
by Senay Agca, Deniz O Igan, Fuhong Li & Prachi Mishra
Why do firms lobby? This paper exploits the unanticipated sequestration of federal budget accounts in March 2013 that reduced the availability of government funds disbursed through procurement contracts to shed light on this question. Following this event, firms with little or no prior exposure to the federal accounts that experienced cuts reduced their lobbying spending. In contrast, firms with a high degree of exposure to the cuts maintained and even increased their lobbying spending. This suggests that, when the same number of contractors competed for a piece of a reduced pie, the more affected firms likely intensified their lobbying efforts to distinguish themselves from the others and improve their chances of procuring a larger share of the smaller overall. These findings are stronger in government-dependent sectors and when there is intense competition. The evidence is more consistent with a rent-seeking explanation for lobbying.
The Long Shadow of the Global Financial Crisis: Public Interventions in the Financial Sector
by Deniz O Igan, Hala Moussawi, Alexander F. Tieman, Aleksandra Zdzienicka, Giovanni Dell’Ariccia, Paolo Mauro
We track direct public interventions and public holdings in 1,114 financial institutions over the period 2007–17 in 37 countries based on publicly available information. We use aggregate official data to validate this new dataset and estimate the fiscal impact of interventions, including the value of asset holdings remaining in state hands at end-2017. Direct public support to financial institutions amounted to $1.6 trillion ($3.5 trillion including guarantees), with larger amounts allocated to lower capitalized and less profitable banks. As of end-2017, only a few countries had fully divested the initial support they provided during the crisis. Public holdings were divested faster in better capitalized, more profitable, and more liquid banks, and in countries where the economy recovered faster. In countries where the government stake remained high relative to the initial intervention, private investment and credit growth were slower, financial access, depth, efficiency, and competition were worse, and financial stability improved less.
Do Old Habits Die Hard? Central Banks and the Bretton Woods Gold Puzzle
by Eric Monnet & Damien Puy
Why did monetary authorities hold large gold reserves under Bretton Woods (1944–1971) when only the US had to? We argue that gold holdings were driven by institutional memory and persistent habits of central bankers. Countries continued to back currency in circulation with gold reserves, following rules of the pre-WWII gold standard. The longer an institution spent in the gold standard (and the older the policymakers), the stronger the correlation between gold reserves and currency. Since dollars and gold were not perfect substitutes, the Bretton Woods system never worked as expected. Even after radical institutional change, history still shapes the decisions of policymakers.
The Price of Capital Goods: A Driver of Investment Under Threat
by Weicheng Lian, Natalija Novta, Evgenia Pugacheva, Yannick Timmer & Petia Topalova
Over the past three decades, the price of machinery and equipment fell dramatically relative to other prices in advanced and emerging market and developing economies. Using cross-country and sectoral data, we show that the decline in the relative price of tangible tradable capital goods provided a significant impetus to the capital deepening that took place during the same time period. The broad-based decline in the relative price of machinery and equipment, in turn, was driven by the faster productivity growth in the capital goods producing sectors relative to the rest of the economy, and deeper trade integration, which induced domestic producers to lower prices and increase their efficiency. Our findings suggest an additional channel through which rising trade tensions and sluggish productivity could threaten real investment growth going forward.
Credit Supply and Productivity Growth
by Francesco Manaresi & Nicola Pierri
We study the impact of bank credit on firm productivity. We exploit a matched firm-bank database covering all the credit relationships of Italian corporations, together with a natural experiment, to measure idiosyncratic supply-side shocks to credit availability and to estimate a production model augmented with financial frictions. We find that a contraction in credit supply causes a reduction of firm TFP growth and also harms IT-adoption, innovation, exporting, and adoption of superior management practices, while a credit expansion has limited impact. Quantitatively, the credit contraction between 2007 and 2009 accounts for about a quarter of observed the decline in TFP.
The Motives to Borrow
by Antonio Fatás, Atish R. Ghosh, Ugo Panizza & Andrea F Presbitero
Governments issue debt for good and bad reasons. While the good reasons—intertemporal tax-smoothing, fiscal stimulus, and asset management—can explain some of the increases in public debt in recent years, they cannot account for all of the observed changes. Bad reasons for borrowing are driven by political failures associated with intergenerational transfers, strategic manipulation, and common pool problems. These political failures are a major cause of overborrowing though budgetary institutions and fiscal rules can play a role in mitigating governments’ tendencies to overborrow. While it is difficult to establish a clear causal link from high public debt to low output growth, it is likely that some countries pay a price—in terms of lower growth and greater output volatility—for excessive debt accumulation.
Discriminatory Pricing of Over-the-Counter Derivatives
by Harald Hau, Peter Hoffmann, Sam Langfield & Yannick Timmer
New regulatory data reveal extensive price discrimination against non-financial clients in the FX derivatives market. The client at the 90th percentile pays an effective spread of 0.5%, while the bottom quarter incur transaction costs of less than 0.02%. Consistent with models of search frictions in over-the-counter markets, dealers charge higher spreads to less sophisticated clients. However, price discrimination is eliminated when clients trade through multi-dealer request-for-quote platforms. We also document that dealers extract rents from captive clients and market opacity, but only for contracts negotiated bilaterally with unsophisticated clients.