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Discussion Paper
How Easy Is It to Forecast Commodity Prices?

Over the last decade, unprecedented spikes and drops in commodity prices have been a recurrent source of concern to both policymakers and the general public. Given all the recent attention, have economists and analysts made any progress in their ability to predict movements in commodity prices? In this post, we find there is no easy answer. We consider different strategies to forecast near-term commodity price inflation, but find that no particular approach is systematically more accurate and robust. Additionally, the results warn against interpreting current forecasts of commodity prices ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110627

Discussion Paper
Did Trade Finance Contribute to the Global Trade Collapse?

The financial crisis of 2008-09 brought about one of the largest collapses in world trade since the end of World War II. Between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009, the value of real global GDP fell 4.6 percent while exports plummeted 17 percent, as can be seen in the chart below. The dramatic decline in world trade—a loss of $761 billion in nominal exports—came through two channels: decreased demand for imports and supply effects, most likely arising from financial constraints. In this post, we look at evidence that supply effects, including curtailed funding for ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110629

Discussion Paper
Global Banks and Their Internal Capital Markets during the Crisis

As financial markets have become increasingly globalized, banks have developed growing networks of branches and subsidiaries in foreign countries. This expansion of banking across borders is changing the way banks manage their balance sheets, and the ways home markets and foreign markets respond to disturbances to financial markets. Based on our recent research, this post shows how global banks used their foreign affiliates for accessing scarce dollars during the financial crisis—a liquidity strategy that helped transmit shocks internationally while reducing some of the consequences in the ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110711

Discussion Paper
Would a Stronger Renminbi Narrow the U.S.-China Trade Imbalance?

The United States buys much more from China than it sells to China—an imbalance that accounts for almost half of our overall merchandise trade deficit. China’s policy of keeping its exchange rate low is often cited as a key driver of that country’s large overall trade surplus and of its bilateral surplus with the United States. The argument is that a stronger renminbi (the official currency of China) would help reduce that country’s trade imbalance with the United States by lowering the prices of U.S. goods relative to those made in China. In this post, we examine the thinking behind ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110713

Discussion Paper
Consumer Goods from China Are Getting More Expensive

We find that, in a sharp reversal of earlier trends, U.S. import prices for consumer goods shipped from China have been rising rapidly in recent quarters—by 7 percent between 2010:Q2 and 2011:Q1. In this post, we track U.S. import price movements in Chinese goods in different product categories by creating an import index that uses highly disaggregated data. We also consider the likely causes of the recent rise in prices for consumer goods. If these price hikes persist, they could have important consequences for U.S. businesses and consumers because China is the largest single supplier of ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110907

Discussion Paper
An Examination of U.S. Dollar Declines

Although the dollar strengthened somewhat recently, its level relative to the currencies of the United States’ main trading partners is nonetheless 11 percent lower than it was at the start of 2009. This represents one of the more pronounced periods of dollar weakness over the past two decades and consequently has garnered considerable attention from market participants and policymakers alike. In this post, we examine the role of market uncertainty and currency risk premia in the pace and size of episodes of dollar weakness since 1991. We find that the most recent bout of U.S. dollar ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20110926

Discussion Paper
What If the U.S. Dollar's Global Role Changed?

It isn’t surprising that the dollar is always in the news, given the prominence of the United States in the global economy and how often the dollar is used in transactions around the world (as discussed in a 2010 Current Issues article). But the dollar may not retain this dominance forever. In this post, we consider and catalog the implications for the United States of a potential lessening of the dollar’s primacy in international transactions. The circumstances surrounding such a possibility are important for the effects. As long as U.S. fundamentals remain strong, key consequences could ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20111003

Discussion Paper
Back to the Future: Revisiting the European Crisis

Recent financial developments are calling into question the future of regional economic integration. Market confidence deteriorates across countries in a contagious way. The place is Europe, the time is . . . now? Or twenty years ago? In fact, in the early 1990s Europe went through a systemic crisis that displays remarkable similarities to today’s events. In this post, we go back to those momentous times and briefly recall how the last Europe-wide crisis started, unfolded, and concluded. The 1992 crisis was eventually resolved, suggesting that there may be some light at the end of the ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20111017

Discussion Paper
Central Bank Imbalances in the Euro Area

The euro area sovereign debt crisis sparked an outflow of bank deposits from countries in the periphery to commercial banks in Germany and other core countries. The outflow highlighted a key aspect of the payments system linking national central banks in euro area countries. In particular, net outflows from private commercial banks in a given country are matched by credits to that county’s central bank, with those credits extended by central banks elsewhere in the euro area. In this post, we explain how the credits affected the adjustment pressures faced by countries in the euro area during ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20111221

Discussion Paper
Is Cheaper Oil Good News or Bad News for U.S. Economy?

Oil prices have declined substantially since the summer of 2014. If these price declines reflect demand shocks, then this would suggest a slowdown in global economic activity. Alternatively, if the declines are driven by supply shocks, then the drop in prices might indicate a forthcoming boost in spending as firms and households benefit from lower energy costs. In this post, we use correlations of oil price changes with a broad array of financial variables to confirm that this recent fall in oil prices has been mostly the result of increased global oil supply. We then use a model to assess ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20150608b

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