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Keywords:low interest rates OR Low interest rates 

Working Paper
Home Country Interest Rates and International Investment in U.S. Bonds

We analyze how interest rates affect cross-border portfolio investments. Data on U.S. bond holdings by foreign investors from 31 countries for the period 2003 - 2016 and a large variety in movements in interest rates in these countries provide for a unique way to analyze shifts in investment behavior in response to interest rates. We find that low(er) interest rates, now prevailing in many advanced countries, lead to greater investment in general into the United States, with the effects generally driven by investment in (higher yielding) corporate bonds, rather than in Treasury bonds. In ...
International Finance Discussion Papers , Paper 1231

Discussion Paper
Low Interest Rates and Bank Profits

The Fed’s December 2015 decision to raise interest rates after an unprecedented seven-year stasis offers a chance to assess the link between interest rates and bank profitability. A key determinant of a bank’s profitability is its net interest margin (NIM)—the gap between an institution’s interest income and interest expense, typically normalized by the average size of its interest-earning assets. The aggregate NIM for the largest U.S. banks reached historic lows in the fourth quarter of 2015, coinciding with the “low for long” interest rate environment in place since the ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20170621

Working Paper
Measuring Interest Rate Risk in the Life Insurance Sector: The U.S. and the U.K.

We use a two factor model of life insurer stock returns to measure interest rate risk at U.S. and U.K. insurers. Our estimates show that interest rate risk among U.S. life insurers increased as interest rates decreased to historically low levels in recent years. For life insurers in the U.K., in contrast, interest rate risk remained low during this time, roughly unchanged from what it was in the period prior to the financial crisis when long-term interest rates were in their usual historical ranges. We attribute these differences to the heavier use of products that combine guarantees with ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-2

Working Paper
Low Interest Rates, Policy, and the Predictive Content of the Yield Curve

Does the yield curve’s ability to predict future output and recessions differ when interest rates are low, as in the current global environment? In this paper we build on recent econometric work by Shi, Phillips, and Hurn that detects changes in the causal impact of the yield curve and relate that to the level of interest rates. We explore the issue using historical data going back to the 19th century for the United States and more recent data for the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. This paper is similar in spirit to Ramey and Zubairy (2018), who look at the government spending ...
Working Papers , Paper 202024

Working Paper
Searching for Yield Abroad : Risk-Taking Through Foreign Investment in U.S. Bonds

The risk-taking effects of low interest rates, now prevailing in many advanced countries, "search-for-yield," can be hard to analyze due to both a paucity of data and challenges in identification. Unique, security-level data on portfolio investment into the United States allow us to overcome both problems. Analyzing holdings of investors from 36 countries in close to 15,000 unique U.S. corporate bonds between 2003 and 2016, we show that declining home-country interest rates lead investors to shift their portfolios toward riskier U.S. corporate bonds, consistent with "search-for-yield". We ...
International Finance Discussion Papers , Paper 1224

Working Paper
A Ramsey Theory of Financial Distortions

The interest rate on government debt is significantly lower than the rates of return on other assets. From the perspective of standard models of optimal taxation, this empirical fact is puzzling: typically, the government should finance expenditures either through contingent taxes, or by previously-issued state-contingent debt, or by labor taxes, with only minor effects arising from intertemporal distortions on interest rates. We study how this answer changes in an economy with financial frictions, where the government cannot directly redistribute towards the agents in need of liquidity, but ...
Working Papers , Paper 775

Discussion Paper
Why Are Interest Rates So Low?

In a recent series of blog posts, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke, has asked the question: 'Why are interest rates so low?' (See part 1, part 2, and part 3.) He refers, of course, to the fact that the U.S. government is able to borrow at an annualized rate of around 2 percent for ten years, or around 3 percent for thirty years. If you expect that inflation is going to be on average 2 percent over the next ten or thirty years, this implies that the U.S. government can borrow at real rates of interest between 0 and 1 percent at the ten- and thirty-year ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20150520

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