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Coronavirus and the Risk of Deflation
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 represents an unprecedented negative shock to the global economy that is likely to severely depress economic activity in the near term. Could the crisis also put substantial downward pressure on price inflation? One way to assess the potential risk to the inflation outlook is by analyzing prices of standard and inflation-indexed government bonds. The probability of declining price levels—or deflation—among four major countries within the next year indicates that the perceived risk remains muted, despite the recent economic turmoil.
Are Banks Exposed to Interest Rate Risk?
While banks seem to face inherent risk from short-term interest rate changes, in practice they structure their balance sheets to avoid exposure to such risk. Nonetheless, recent research finds that banks cannot offload all of the interest rate risk they are naturally exposed to. Historically, banks’ profit margins reflect their compensation for taking on interest rate risk and their stock prices are highly sensitive to changes in interest rates. These findings can help practitioners assess banks’ risk exposures and may have implications for unconventional monetary policy.