Working Papers

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2024

February 16, 2024

Constraints on Trade in the LAC Region

Description: This paper studies Latin America and the Caribbean’s (LAC) trade performance in recent years and estimates the salience of key country-specific factors in explaining underperformance in some sub-regions within LAC. First, the paper documents that, while the average country in the region displays aggregate trade values that are consistent with a standard gravity model, there is substantial heterogeneity across sub-regions and product-types. The paper then estimates an augmented gravity specification that includes proxies for the quality of infrastructure, the availability and quality of factors of production, and governance. Results point to infrastructure and customs regulation as key factors explaining undertrading in manufacturing in most sub-regions. Factors of production partly explain South America’s underpeformance in manufacturing while governance explains undertrading across most product groups, but neither set of factors play a significant role in other sub-regions.

February 16, 2024

Sectoral Debt and Global Dollar Cycles in Developing Economies

Description: We explore the role of sectoral debt dynamics in shaping business cycles in a sample of 52 Emerging Market Economies (EMEs) and Frontier Market Economies (FMEs) from 2005 to 2021. Higher household debt levels and growth are associated with significantly slower GDP growth in more developed EMEs but not in less developed EMEs and FMEs. We also examine the relationship between US dollar cycles, sectoral debt levels and growth, and economic activity. Among developed EMEs, higher expected household debt growth magnifies the impact of US dollar fluctuations on economic activity, with significant but less persistent effects on consumption and more persistent effects on investment. Our empirical findings highlight the important role of household debt dynamics in relatively developed EMEs.

February 9, 2024

The Legal Foundations of Public Debt Transparency: Aligning the Law with Good Practices

Description: Debt opacity burdens the public and can exacerbate debt vulnerabilities in many countries. Both low-income and developing countries and emerging market economies have critical gaps in debt transparency, and the implementation of international standards and guidelines has lagged. The paper surveys the legal frameworks of sixty jurisdictions and reveals the critical weaknesses that hinder debt transparency, which include weak reporting obligations, limited coverage of public debt, inadequate monitoring, unclear borrowing and delegation processes, unfettered confidentiality arrangements and weak accountability mechanisms. Because laws entrench practices and bind the discretion of policy makers and debt managers alike, subjecting them to public scrutiny, legal reform is a necessary part of any solution to the problem of hidden debt, though it may entail a difficult and time intensive process in many jurisdictions.

February 9, 2024

Platform Precommitment via Decentralization

Description: I study an entrepreneur’s incentives to build a decentralized platform using a blockchain. The entrepreneur can either build the platform using a regular company and retain control of the platform, or build the platform using a blockchain and surrender control of the platform. In either case, the platform’s users experience a locked-in effect. I show that a decentralized implementation of the platform is both (i) more profitable for the entrepreneur and (ii) a Pareto improvement, if and only if the size of the locked-in effect exceeds some threshold. Further, progressive decentralization through airdrops can be optimal.

February 9, 2024

Firms’ Resilience to Energy Shocks and Response to Fiscal Incentives: Assessing the Impact of 2022 Energy Crisis

Description: The energy price shock in 2022 led to government support for firms in some countries, sparking debate about the rationale and the nature of such support. The results from nationally representative firm surveys in the United States and Germany indicate that firms in these countries were generally resilient. Coping strategies adopted by firms included the pass-through of higher costs to consumers, adjustment of profit margins (United States) and investments in energy saving and efficiency (Germany). Firms in energy-intensive industries would have been significantly more affected if international energy prices were fully passed through to domestic prices in Europe. Survey responses further reveal that most firms are uncertain about the impact of recent policy announcments on green subsidies. Firms take advantage of fiscal incentives to accelerate their climate-related investment plans are often those that have previous plans to do so. These findings suggest better targeting and enhancing policy certainty will be important when facilitate the green transition among firms.

February 9, 2024

The Impact of Derivatives Collateralization on Liquidity Risk: Evidence from the Investment Fund Sector

Description: Stricter derivative margin requirements have increased the demand for liquid collateral, but euro area investment funds, which use derivatives extensively, have been reducing their liquid asset holdings. Using transaction-by-transaction derivatives data, we assess whether the current levels of funds’ holdings of cash and other highly liquid assets would be adequate to meet funds’ liquidity needs to cover variation margin calls on derivatives under a range of stress scenarios. The estimates indicate that between 13 percent and 33 percent of euro area funds with sizeable derivatives exposures may not have sufficient liquidity buffers to meet the calls under adverse market shocks. As a result, they are likely to redeem money market fund (MMF) shares, procyclically sell assets, and draw on credit lines, thus amplifying the market dynamics under such stress scenarios. Our findings highlight the importance of further work to assess the potential role of macroprudential policies for nonbanks, particularly regarding liquidity risk in funds.

February 9, 2024

U.S. Inflation Expectations During the Pandemic

Description: This paper studies how and why inflation expectations have changed since the emergence of Covid-19. Using micro-level data from the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, we show that the distribution of consumer expectations at one-year and five-ten year horizons has widened since the surge of inflation during 2021, along with the mean. Persistently high and heterogeneous expectations of consumers with less education and lower income are mainly responsible. A simple model of adaptive learning is able to mimic the change in inflation expectations over time for different demographic groups. The inflation expectations of low income and female consumers are consistent with using less complex forecasting models and are more backward-looking. A medium-scale DSGE model with adaptive learning, estimated during 1965-2022, has a time-varying solution that produces lower forecast errors for inflation than a variant with rational expectations. The estimated model interprets the surge of inflation in 2021 mainly as the result of a price markup shock, which is more persistent and requires a larger and more persistent monetary policy response than under rational expectations.

February 9, 2024

Emissions Reduction, Fiscal Costs, and Macro Effects: A Model-based Assessment of IRA Climate Measures and Complementary Policies

Description: The IMF’s Macroeconomic Model for the Energy Transition (GMMET) is applied to assess the climate-related measures in the U.S. 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Explicitly accouting for corporate income tax funding and assuming no permitting delays for energy-related investment, the measures are expected to cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 710 MMT by 2030, predominantly driven by more electricity generation from renewables combined with a rising share of electric vehicles. Aggregate output and inflation are not impacted significantly, while the fiscal costs amount to about $700 billion through 2030 (another $120 billion of fixed grants and loans are not modelled). In the presence of investment delays from permitting, emission cuts would be reduced by about a third. We also show that the IRA leaves room for sizable additional emission abatement at very low costs; by targeting electricity generation from coal and methane emissions from oil and gas industries.

February 2, 2024

The Housing Supply Channel of Monetary Policy

Description: We study the role of regional housing markets in the transmission of US monetary policy. Using a FAVAR model over 1999q1–2019q4, we find sizeable heterogeneity in the responses of US states to a contractionary monetary policy shock. Part of this regional variation is due to differences in housing supply elasticities, household debt overhang, and housing wealth (volatility). Our analysis indicates that house prices and consumption respond more in supply-inelastic states and in states with large household debt imbalances, where negative housing wealth effects bite more strongly and borrowing constraints become more binding. Moreover, financial stability risks increase sharply in these areas as mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures surge, worsening banks’ balance sheets. Finally, monetary policy may have a stronger effect on housing tenure decisions in supply-inelastic states, where the homeownership rate and price-to-rent ratios decline by more. Our findings stress the importance of regional housing supply conditions in assessing the macrofinancial effects of rising interest rates.

February 2, 2024

Geopolitics and International Trade: The Democracy Advantage

Description: Do political regimes determine how geopolitics influence international trade? This paper provides an empirical answer to the question by analyzing the joint impact of democracy and geopolitical distance between countries with an augmented gravity model of bilateral trade flows and an extensive dataset of more than 4 million observations on 59,049 country-pairs over the period 1948–2018. Implementing the Poisson Pseudo-Maximum Likelihood regression and the two-stage least squares with instrumental variable approach, I find that geopolitical developments are not as important as income and geographical distance in determining bilateral trade flows and that democracy fosters international trade and moderates the potential negative impact of geopolitics. While the impact of democracy and its interaction with geopolitical distance are significant across all countries, the magnitude of these effects is substantially larger in advanced economies than in developing countries, reflecting the greater strength of democratic institutions, on average, in advanced economies.

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