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The side effects of safe asset creation
We present an incomplete markets model to understand the costs and benefits of increasing government debt in a low interest rate environment. Higher risk increases the demand for safe assets, lowering the natural rate of interest below zero, constraining monetary policy at the zero lower bound, and raising unemployment. Higher government debt satiates the demand for safe assets, raising the natural rate and restoring full employment. While this permanently lowers investment, a policymaker committed to low inflation has no alternative. Higher inflation targets, instead, permit both full ...
Accounting for Macro-Finance Trends: Market Power, Intangibles, and Risk Premia
Real risk-free interest rates have trended down over the past 30 years. Puzzlingly in light of this decline, (1) the return on private capital has remained stable or even increased, creating an increasing wedge with safe interest rates; (2) stock market valuation ratios have increased only moderately; (3) investment has been lackluster. We use a simple extension of the neoclassical growth model to diagnose the nexus of forces that jointly accounts for these developments. We find that rising market power, rising unmeasured intangibles, and rising risk premia, play a crucial role, over and ...
The Replacement of Safe Assets: Evidence from the U.S. Bond Portfolio
The expansion in financial sector "safe" assets, largely in the form of structured products from the U.S. and the Caribbean, in the lead-up to the global financial crisis has by now been fairly well documented. Using a unique dataset derived from security-level data on U.S. portfolio holdings of foreign securities, we show that since the crisis, it is mostly the foreign financial sector that appears to have met U.S. demand for safe and liquid investment assets by expanding its supply of debt securities. We also find a strong negative correlation between the foreign share of the U.S. ...
The Demand for Short-Term, Safe Assets and Financial Stability: Some Evidence and Implications for Central Bank Policies
A number of researchers have recently argued that the growth of the shadow banking system in the years preceding the recent U.S. financial crisis was driven by rising demand for "money-like" claims--short-term, safe instruments (STSI)--from institutional investors and nonfinancial firms. These instruments carry a money premium that lowers their yields. While government securities are an important part of the supply of STSI, financial intermediaries also take advantage of this money premium when they issue certain types of low-risk, short-term debt, such as asset-backed commercial paper or ...
International Reserves and Rollover Risk
We study the optimal accumulation of international reserves in a quantitative model of sovereign default with long-term debt and a risk-free asset. Keeping higher levels of reserves provides a hedge against rollover risk, but this is costly because using reserves to pay down debt allows the government to reduce sovereign spreads. Our model, parameterized to mimic salient features of a typical emerging economy, can account for a significant fraction of the holdings of international reserves, and the larger accumulation of both debt and reserves in periods of low spreads and high income. We ...