Working Papers

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2024

June 14, 2024

A Tale of Two Margins: Monetary Policy and Capital Misallocation

Description: This paper investigates the impact of monetary policy on capital misallocation, focusing on its heterogeneous effects on firms. Using Spanish firm-level data spanning 1999 to 2019, we demonstrate that expansionary monetary policy leads to a reduction in capital misallocation, measured by the within-industry dispersion of firms’ marginal revenue product of capital (MRPK). To analyze the underlying mechanism, we first examine the intensive margin and find that high-MRPK firms exhibit a greater increase in investment and debt financing relative to low-MRPK firms following a monetary policy easing surprise. We also find that a firm’s MRPK serves as a stronger determinant of its investment sensitivity to monetary policy than factors such as age, leverage, or cash, suggesting that MRPK is a reliable proxy for financial frictions. Next, we explore the extensive margin and demonstrate that monetary policy easing stimulates entry and discourages exit, although the quantitative impact is small. Moreover, we find no significant changes in the composition of high- and low-MRPK entrants or exiters. Overall, our findings suggest that expansionary monetary policy primarily reduces capital misallocation by alleviating financial frictions among incumbent productive and constrained firms.

June 14, 2024

Sovereign Green Bonds: A Catalyst for Sustainable Debt Market Development?

Description: In traditional bond markets, sovereign bonds provide benchmarks and serve as catalysts for the corporate bond market development. Contrary to the usual sequence of bond market development, sovereign issuers are latecomers to sustainable bond markets. Yet, our empirical study finds that sovereign green bond issuance can have quantitative and qualitative benefits for the development of private sustainable bond markets. Our results suggest that both the number and the size of corporate green bond issuance increase more in a jurisdiction after the sovereign debut. The results are more pronounced in countries with stronger climate policies. Sovereign green bond issuance also improves the quality of green verification standards in the corporate bond market more generally, consistent with the aim of fostering third-party reviews and promoting best practice in green reporting and verification. Finally, our work provides evidence that the sovereign debut increases liquidity and diminishes yield spreads of corporate green bonds in the same jurisdiction.

June 14, 2024

Cross-Border Payments Integration in Latin America and the Caribbean

Description: Cross-border payment inefficiencies are a significant barrier to trade both within Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and between LAC and other regions. This paper provides a comprehensive review of historical efforts undertaken by various countries within the LAC region to address these challenges. We also explore the potential of recent financial innovations, such as digital currencies and blockchain technology, to enhance cross-border payments. While new technologies do not substitute for prudent and credible macroeconomic policies, leveraging these technologies can help LAC countries reduce transaction costs and times, thus enhancing economic efficiency and fostering deeper regional and global trade relationships.

June 14, 2024

Aging Gracefully: Steering the Banking Sector through Demographic Shifts

Description: We analyze how aging populations might affect the stability of banking systems through changes in the balance sheets and risk preferences of banks over the period 2000-2022. While the anticipated decline in maturity transformation due to aging hints at a possible reduction in risk exposure, an older population may propel banks towards yield-seeking behaviors, offsetting the diminishing prominence of conventional lending operations. Through a comprehensive examination of advanced economies over the past two decades, our findings reveal a general enhancement in bank stability correlating with the aging of populations. However, the adaptive responses of banks to these demographic changes are potentially introducing tail risks. Given the rapid global shift towards aging societies, our analysis highlights the critical need for policymakers to be proactive and vigilant. This is particularly pertinent considering historical precedents where periods of relative stability have often been harbingers of emerging risks.

June 14, 2024

Inequality in a More Equal World—Labor Market Gender Gaps in St. Lucia

Description: St. Lucia has enviably high female labor force participation rate and strikingly low participation gap vis-à-vis male. The latter is lower than OECD average and way below world average. Women are also more educated than men. Yet, using a micro dataset of St. Lucia Labor Force Survey over the period 2016-2021, our analysis points towards disproportionate effects of childcare on female participation and unemployment and a substantial gender gap in labor income for workers without higher education. Moreover, the income gap is not explained by observable worker characteristics. While the paper does not explore causal links, this unique feature of high female participation and, yet, considerable gender gaps in other dimensions could be due to the social, historical, and political structure that resulted in a matrifocal but not a matriarchal system. At the same time, the small gender gaps for workers with higher education across participation, unemployment, and labor income seem to suggest that women can overcome some barriers through education. Our results bring to the fore two crucial aspects related to gender studies: (i) While macroeconomic indicators like female labor participation rate are important tools, they are not always sufficient to capture progress in gender equality; and (ii) econometric analysis needs to be complemented with a more holistic understanding of the history and social context shaping deeply rooted gender traits.

June 7, 2024

Exposure to Artificial Intelligence and Occupational Mobility: A Cross-Country Analysis

Description: We document historical patterns of workers' transitions across occupations and over the life-cycle for different levels of exposure and complementarity to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Brazil and the UK. In both countries, college-educated workers frequently move from high-exposure, low-complementarity occupations (those more likely to be negatively affected by AI) to high-exposure, high-complementarity ones (those more likely to be positively affected by AI). This transition is especially common for young college-educated workers and is associated with an increase in average salaries. Young highly educated workers thus represent the demographic group for which AI-driven structural change could most expand opportunities for career progression but also highly disrupt entry into the labor market by removing stepping-stone jobs. These patterns of “upward” labor market transitions for college-educated workers look broadly alike in the UK and Brazil, suggesting that the impact of AI adoption on the highly educated labor force could be similar across advanced economies and emerging markets. Meanwhile, non-college workers in Brazil face markedly higher chances of moving from better-paid high-exposure and low-complementarity occupations to low-exposure ones, suggesting a higher risk of income loss if AI were to reduce labor demand for the former type of jobs.

June 7, 2024

Monitoring Privately-held Firms' Default Risk in Real Time: A Signal-Knowledge Transfer Learning Model

Description: We develop a mixed-frequency, tree-based, gradient-boosting model designed to assess the default risk of privately held firms in real time. The model uses data from publicly-traded companies to construct a probability of default (PD) function. This function integrates high-frequency, market-based, aggregate distress signals with low-frequency, firm-level financial ratios, and macroeconomic indicators. When provided with private firms' financial ratios, the model, which we name signal-knowledge transfer learning model (SKTL), transfers insights gained from 35 thousand publicly-traded firms to more than 4 million private-held ones and performs well as an ordinal measure of privately-held firms' default risk.

June 7, 2024

Reinforcement Learning from Experience Feedback: Application to Economic Policy

Description: Learning from the past is critical for shaping the future, especially when it comes to economic policymaking. Building upon the current methods in the application of Reinforcement Learning (RL) to the large language models (LLMs), this paper introduces Reinforcement Learning from Experience Feedback (RLXF), a procedure that tunes LLMs based on lessons from past experiences. RLXF integrates historical experiences into LLM training in two key ways - by training reward models on historical data, and by using that knowledge to fine-tune the LLMs. As a case study, we applied RLXF to tune an LLM using the IMF's MONA database to generate historically-grounded policy suggestions. The results demonstrate RLXF's potential to equip generative AI with a nuanced perspective informed by previous experiences. Overall, it seems RLXF could enable more informed applications of LLMs for economic policy, but this approach is not without the potential risks and limitations of relying heavily on historical data, as it may perpetuate biases and outdated assumptions.

June 7, 2024

Policy Multipliers in Japan Under QQE

Description: This paper tests whether Japan's key macro policy multipliers have declined since 2013, the year that Japan introduced Qualitative and Quantitative Easing. We use the augmented Blanchard-Perotti structural VAR model introduced in Ouliaris and Rochon (2021) to study the dynamic effects of shocks in the central bank’s asset holdings, interest rates, and debt levels relative to GDP on economic activity in Japan. We find that both the expenditure and tax multipliers of Japan have fallen, implying that the effectiveness of fiscal policy in Japan declined following the change in monetary policy. Moreover, we find that the efficacy of quantitative easing is small, implying the need for huge interventions to have a significant effect on real GDP, and that the effectiveness of quantitative easing has declined since 2013. We argue that the reduction in policy multipliers can be attributed to the upward trend in the government debt level relative to GDP which, despite historically low interest rates, has increased Japan’s structural deficit, and the likelihood of reduced expenditures and higher taxes going forward.

June 7, 2024

Adding Fuel to the Fire: How Weather Shocks Intensify Conflict

Description: Do weather shocks worsen conflict around the world? To answer this question, this paper uses an innovative dataset created by using georeferencing to match weather and conflict data at the subregional level on a monthly frequency across 168 countries over 2013 to 2022.The empirical results show that higher temperature exacerbate conflict where it already exists. Estimations indicate that, in a high emissions scenario and all else equal, by 2060 conflict deaths as a share of the population for a median country facing conflict could increase by 12.3 percent due to rising temperatures. These findings underscore the importance of integrating climate resilience into peace and security efforts and designing climate adaptation policies that support conflict prevention and resolution.

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