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A New Measure of Central Bank Independence

February 23, 2024
This paper constructs a new index for measuring de jure central bank independence, the first entirely new index in three decades. The index draws on a comprehensive dataset from the IMF’s Central Bank Legislation Database (CBLD) and Monetary Operations and Instruments Database (MOID) and weightings derived from a survey of 87 respondents, mostly consisting of central bank governors and general counsels. It improves upon existing indices including the Cukierman, Webb, and Neyapti (CWN) index, which has been the de facto standard for measuring central bank independence since 1992, as well as recent extensions by Garriga (2016) and Romelli (2022). For example, it includes areas absent from the CWN index, such as board composition, financial independence, and budgetary independence. It treats dimensions such as the status of the chief executive as composite metrics to prevent overstating the independence of statutory schemes. It distills ten key metrics, simplifying current frameworks that now include upwards of forty distinct variables. And it replaces the subjective weighting systems relied on in the existing literature with an empirically grounded alternative. This paper presents the key features of the new index; a companion, forthcoming paper will provide detailed findings by country/region, income level, and exchange rate regime.

An Integrated Policy Framework (IPF) Diagram for International Economics

February 23, 2024
The Mundell-Fleming IS-LM approach has guided generations of economists over the past 60 years. But countries have experienced new problems, the international finance literature has advanced, and the composition of the global economy has changed, so the scene is set for an updated approach. We propose an Integrated Policy Framework (IPF) diagram to analyze the use of multiple policy tools as a function of shocks and country characteristics. The underlying model features dominant currency pricing, shallow foreign exchange (FX) markets, and occasionally-binding external and domestic borrowing constraints. Our diagram includes the use of monetary policy, FX intervention, capital controls, and domestic macroprudential measures. It has four panels to explore four key trade-offs related to import consumption, home goods consumption, the housing market, and monetary policy. Our extended diagram adds fiscal policy into the mix.

Navigating the Evolving Landscape between China and Africa’s Economic Engagements

February 23, 2024
China and Africa have forged a strong economic relationship since China’s accession to the WTO in 2001. This paper examines the evolution of these economic ties starting in the early 2000s, and the subsequent shift in the relationship triggered by the commodity price collapse in 2015 and by the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential effects on the African continent of a further slowdown in Chinese growth are analyzed, highlighting the varying effects on different countries in Africa, especially those heavily dependent on their economic relationship with China. The conclusion offers a discussion of ways how African countries and China could adapt to the changing relationship.

Determinants of Zombie Banks in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies

February 23, 2024
While deeply undercapitalized banks have been shown to misallocate credit to weak firms, the drivers of such zombie banks are less researched, particularly across countries. To furnish empirical evidence, we compile a dataset of undercapitalized banks from emerging markets and developing economies. We classify zombie banks as those not receiving remedial treatment by owners or regulators or, alternatively, remaining chronically undercapitalized. Using logit regressions, we find that country-specific factors are more influential for zombie status than bank characteristics, alhough some become significant when disaggreating by region. The paper’s overall findings imply the need for a proper regulatory framework and an effective resolution regime to deal with zombie banks more decisively.

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