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Tipping the Scale: The Working of Monetary Policy through Trade
(with Carolina Osorio Buitron)
IMF Working Paper 17/142, 2017

Monetary policy entails demand augmenting and demand diverting effects, with its impact on the trade balance—and spillovers to other countries—depending on the relative magnitude of these opposing effects. Using US data, and a sign-restricted structural VAR identification strategy, we investigate how monetary policy shocks affects the trade balance, shedding light on the importance of the two effects. Overall, the results indicate that monetary policy has a meaningful impact on the trade balance. A monetary loosening (tightening) leads to a strengthening (weakening) of the overall trade balance, indicating that, on average, demand diversion dominates. This effect of monetary policy on trade is revealed in full when distinguishing between trading partners with fixed exchange rates—for which only demand augmenting operates—and flexible exchange rates—for which both effects operate. We also explore spillover differences between conventional and unconventional monetary policy, as well as changes in spillovers in the postcrisis period (due to an impaired monetary transmission mechanism). While our results suggest that monetary policy comes with spillovers through trade, they should not be interpreted as evidence against the use of this policy instrument as such. From a global perspective, optimal monetary policy should be assessed in conjunction with deployment of other policy measures, including the ability of recipient countries to deploy their own policy measures to offset undesirable spillovers.

“Gone with the Headwinds; Global Productivity"
(with R. A. Duval, D. Furceri, S. Kılıç Çelik, K. Koloskova and M. Poplawski-Ribeiro)
IMF Staff Discussion Notes 17/04, 2017

Productivity growth—the key driver of living standards—fell sharply following the global financial crisis and has remained sluggish since, adding to a slowdown already in train before. Building on new research, this note finds that the productivity slowdown reflects both crisis legacies and structural headwinds. In advanced economies, the global financial crisis has led to “productivity hysteresis”—persistent productivity losses from a seemingly temporary shock. Behind this are balance sheet vulnerabilities, protracted weak demand and elevated uncertainty, which jointly triggered an adverse feedback loop of weak investment, weak productivity and bleak income prospects. Structural headwinds—already blowing before the crisis—include a waning ICT boom and slowing technology diffusion, partly reflecting an aging workforce, slowing global trade and weaker human capital accumulation. Reviving productivity growth requires addressing remaining crisis legacies in the short run while pressing ahead with structural reforms to tackle longer-term headwinds.

"Foreign Exchange Intervention under Policy Uncertainty"
(with Ruy Lama and Juan Pablo Medina Guzman)
IMF Working Paper 16/67, 2016

We study the use of foreign exchange (FX) intervention as an additional policy instrument in an environment with learning, where agents infer the central bank policy rules from its policy actions. Under full information, a central bank focused on stabilizing output and inflation can achieve better outcomes by using FX intervention as an additional policy tool. Under policy uncertainty, where agents perceive that monetary policy may also have exchange rate stabilization goals, the use of FX intervention entails a trade-off, reducing output volatility while increasing inflation volatility. While having an additional policy tool is always beneficial, we find that the optimal magnitude of intervention is higher in monetary policy regimes with lower uncertainty. These results indicate that the benefits of using FX intervention as an additional stabilization tool are greater in regimes where monetary policy is credibly focused on output and inflation stabilization.

"The Cost of Foreign Exchange Intervention: Concepts and Measurement"
(with Rui Mano)
IMF Working Papers 16/89, 2016

The accumulation of large foreign asset positions by many central banks through sustained foreign exchange (FX) intervention has raised questions about its associated fiscal costs. This paper clarifies conceptual issues regarding how to measure these costs both from an ex-post and an ex-ante (relevant for decision making) perspective, and estimates both marginal and total costs for 73 countries over the period 2002-13. We find ex-ante marginal costs for the median emerging market economy (EME) in the inter-quartile range of 2-5.5 percent per year; while ex-ante total costs (of sustaining FX positions) in the range of 0.2-0.7 percent of GDP per year for light interveners and 0.3-1.2 percent of GDP per year for heavy interveners. These estimates indicate that fiscal costs of sustained FX intervention (via expanding central bank balance sheets) are not negligible.

"Can Foreign Exchange Intervention Stem Exchange Rate Pressures from Global Capital Flow Shocks?"
(with Olivier Blanchard and Irineu de Carvalho Filho). 
NBER Working Papers 21427; PIIE Working Paper Series WP15-18; IMF WP 15/159

Many emerging market economies have relied on foreign exchange intervention (FXI) in response to gross capital inflows. In this paper, we study whether FXI has been an effective tool to dampen the effects of these inflows on the exchange rate. To deal with endogeneity issues, we look at the response of different countries to plausibly exogenous gross inflows, and explore the cross country variation of FXI and exchange rate responses. Consistent with the portfolio balance channel, we find that larger FXI leads to less exchange rate appreciation in response to gross inflows.

"Unveiling the Effects of Foreign Exchange Intervention; A Panel Approach"
(with Noemie Lisack and Rui Mano)
Revise and Resubmit International Journal of Economics and Finance
IMF Working Papers 15/130, 2015

We study the effect of foreign exchange intervention on the exchange rate relying on an instrumental-variables panel approach. We find robust evidence that intervention affects the level of the exchange rate in an economically meaningful way. A purchase of foreign currency of 1 percentage point of GDP causes a depreciation of the nominal and real exchange rates in the ranges of [1.7-2.0] percent and [1.4-1.7] percent respectively. The effects are found to be quite persistent. The paper also explores possible asymmetric effects, and whether effectiveness depends on the depth of domestic financial markets.

"Does Central Bank Capital Matter for Monetary Policy?"
(with Camilo E. Tovar Mora and Pedro Castro)
Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 183-205, February 2016

This paper examines empirically whether central bank capital influences the conduct of monetary policy. To this end, we estimate interest rate rules for a sample of 41 countries and employ linear and non-linear regression methods to test if a measure of central bank financial strength can explain deviations of actual interest rates from those predicted by the estimated interest rate (Taylor-like) rules. Our results suggest that central bank capital is indeed a relevant factor behind interest rate policy decisions.

"Global Financial Shocks and Foreign Asset Repatriation; Do Local Investors Play a Stabilizing Role?"
(with Marie-Louise Djigbenou and Sebastian Sosa)
Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 8-28, 2016.

We study the dynamic response of gross capital flows in emerging market economies to different global financial shocks, using a panel vector-autoregressive (PVAR) approach. Our focus lies primarily on the potentially stabilizing role played by domestic investors in offsetting the response of foreign investors to adverse global shocks. We find that, while foreign investors tend to retrench from emerging markets in response to global risk aversion and monetary policy shocks, foreign asset repatriation by resident investors does not always follow suit. Local investors play a meaningful stabilizing role in the face of global risk aversion shocks, with sizeable asset repatriation largely offsetting the retrenchment of non-residents. In contrast, foreign investor retrenchment in response to global monetary policy shocks is not mirrored by asset repatriation. Finally, we find robust evidence that positive global real shocks tend to have a positive impact on net capital inflows to emerging markets. Our results shed light on the likely impact of the Fed's QE tapering on capital flows to emerging market economies.