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Central Bank of Ireland
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Abstract: In 2020Q1, emerging market economies (EMEs) experienced significant outflows of portfolio investment capital. Irish-domiciled funds contributed to these portfolio outflows through sales of EME securities in response to heightened redemptions. Consistent with previous evidence around the sensitivity of Irish-resident fund flows to changes in global risk appetite, the retrenchment by Irish-domiciled funds in 2020Q1 was greater for debt, rather than equity, securities. Relative to their initial positions, the retrenchment was bigger for hedge funds, suggesting leverage may have acted as an amplifier of asset sales. Overall, though, Irish-domiciled funds also retrenched by less than might have been expected, given the historical relationship between measures of global risk aversion and fund flows to EMEs. In part, this may be due to the fact that, in the face of large redemptions, Irish funds also sold more liquid advanced economy securities. This points to potential common creditor effects acting as a transmission channel of shocks. The analysis also finds that EME countries with stronger fundamentals were somewhat cushioned from the retrenchment. Finally, valuation effects were strongest vis-à-vis EMEs with more flexible exchange rate regimes, suggesting a major role for currency depreciations in driving the observed reduction in positions.
Abstract: This paper studies the bilateral determinants of the international asset positions of banks, and subsequent bilateral adjustment during the global financial crisis and ensuing recovery phase. We find empirical support for traditional gravity-type variables. Exploiting a comprehensive dataset of bilateral bank assets, combined with a cross-country database on capital controls and macroeconomic policies, empirical evidence is provided for the effects of macroeconomic tools on the portfolio reallocation of internationally active banks. Specifically, higher current account balances in recipient countries are associated with higher inflows in debt assets, while restrictions on asset inflows and higher central bank reserves are related to lower cross-border flows of bank investment during the crisis and post-crisis periods, with heterogeneous effects across asset type. Finally, stronger institutions in recipient countries are positively associated with the international investment of banks, with inflows to debt assets being the most sensitive asset category across the financial cycle.
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic poses financial stability challenges with potential implications for the funding of economies. In the context of external borrowing, the empirical literature has shown that the level and evolution of net external debt liabilities can signal future crisis. Due to Ireland’s role as a financial centre, however, traditional data cannot be used at face value for such purposes. In Galstyan and Herzberg (2018) we focused on the external position of the banking sector only. However, a more encompassing approach is warranted given the shift of liabilities from the banking sector to the government sector in the aftermath of the crisis. Extending our previous work, we provide an estimate of net external debt liabilities for domestically-relevant entities in Ireland and propose a modified threshold indicator for monitoring external vulnerabilities. We find that on the eve of the global pandemic Ireland’s external balance sheet vulnerabilities were relatively limited.
Abstract: In this paper, we empirically assess the importance of gravity-type variables and measures of macroeconomic and financial volatilities in explaining portfolio holdings denominated across the main global currencies: US dollar (USD), euro (EUR), Pound sterling (GBP), Japanese yen (JPY) and Swiss franc (CHF). Our findings underscore the importance of trade ties and membership of the euro area. We also find that international positions co-move with the level of macroeconomic and financial uncertainty. Importantly, we identify heterogeneous patterns at a currency level.
Abstract: The increase in the current account surplus of the euro area has been accompanied by muted growth in real wages and an increase in corporate profits. I show that these developments are linked. In particular, temporary shifts in labor income covary negatively with the current account, while permanent shifts show little correlation. On the other hand, temporary shifts in capital income covary positively with the euro area current account, while permanent shifts are marginally negatively correlated. With recent income dynamics likely being temporary in nature, the findings suggest that both external and internal imbalances could unwind simultaneously, were the upward pressure in the labor market to translate into a redistribution of corporate profits towards labor income.
Abstract: Adopting a savings-investment approach to the current account, I link the euro area current account to a set of factors that have been identified as reliable covariates in the literature. The results suggest that corporate net lending and the fiscal balance are important covariates of the euro area current account. On the other hand, while demographic factors also matter, their relevance is of second order.
Abstract: The euro area current account was on average in balance over 1999-2010 period, while the average rate of inflation was close to the ECB target. In contrast, the post-2011 increase in the euro area current account surplus has been accompanied by a period of low inflation. This paper suggests that observed low inflation can be partly explained by the surplus in the external balance. I propose a version of an open-economy inflation Phillips curve showing that, in addition to output gap and inflationary expectations, inflation is also shaped by the trade balance. At an empirical level, I find a statistically significant and negative correlation between the two variables.
Abstract: This paper calculates foreign assets and liabilities for Ireland that are more reflective of foreign activities of Irish-resident entities. This is accomplished by stripping from the Irish international investment position the intermediation component that arises from the activities of investment funds and special purpose entities and, to some extent, correcting distortions arising from redomiciled PLCs, intellectual property transfers and aircraft leasing. My estimations not only reduce substantially gross external positions, but also shrink the extent of Irish net foreign indebtedness from 280 to 80 per cent of modified gross national income.
Abstract: Large external imbalances have been a persistent feature of most advanced economies, including Ireland. This is despite significant deleveraging of the Irish banking sector since the financial crisis. Given the presence of internationally oriented activities with little Ireland-related business, early-warning indicator metrics related to the international investment position require adjustments in order to serve as useful monitoring tools. We propose to focus on a metric related to the net external debt liabilities of a narrow set of domestic Irish banks: a closer monitoring of the external balance-sheet risk is warranted when the net external debt liabilities of domestic banks exceed 17 per cent of modified gross national income.
Abstract: In this paper we exploit the newly augmented Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey data of the IMF to study the cross-border inter-sectoral portfolio asset holdings of Germany. Our analysis reveals a significant degree of heterogeneity in German international asset positions of various holding entities. The findings of our study also suggest differential relations between portfolio holdings and a set of ``gravity-style'' factors across holder-issuer pairings of various sectors. We conclude that aggregate-level patterns in international portfolio holdings may not persist in sectoral data.
Abstract: This paper examines the effects of debt and distortionary labor taxation on the long-run behavior of the relative price of nontraded goods. At the theoretical level, in a two-sector open economy model we demonstrate that higher public debt, associated with higher taxation, contracts labor supply in both traded and nontraded goods sectors. Relative prices move inversely with relative supply shifts which, in turn, depend on relative factor intensities. At the empirical level, for a panel of advanced economies, we find statistically significant effects of public debt and taxes on the relative price of nontraded goods, with higher debt and taxes associated with higher relative prices.
Abstract: Following the seminal contribution of Feenstra (1994), I apply limited-information maximum likelihood to estimate import demand and export supply elasticities for a range of eurozone countries. The results highlight substantial inconsistencies in the parameters estimated by the methodology of Fuller (1977) relative to the parameters estimated by the methodology of Hausman et al (2012). The nature of the structural equations reveals complications generated by the limiting behavior of the parameters that can be replicated in finite samples. The results of simulations underscore substantial improvements in parameter estimates in a three-dimensional panel, suggesting that the problem of limiting behaviour can be overcome in larger dataset/panels.
Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of public debt and distortionary labour taxation on the long-run behaviour of Irish relative non-traded goods prices. We highlight that higher public debt, acting through higher taxes, has an equivocal impact on the relative supply of non-traded goods and, correspondingly, relative prices. Our empirical analysis for Ireland suggests that taxes and public debt play significant roles in the long run, comoving negatively with the relative price of non-tradables. Accordingly, shifts in public debt and taxation bear implications for the country's international price competitiveness.
Abstract: In this paper we empirically analyze nonlinearities in short-run real exchange rate dynamics. Our findings suggest that real exchange rate misalignments are considerably less persistent and more volatile during times of high debt. Assessing the variance of changes in misalignments, we retrieve evidence indicating that the nominal exchange rate and inflation differentials are more important determinants in states of high debt than in states of low debt. Overall, our results imply that nonlinearities have non-negligible implications for the mechanics of real exchange rate adjustment in emerging markets.
Abstract: Research on the geographical distribution of international portfolios has mainly focused on data aggregated to the country level. We exploit newly-available data that disaggregates the holders and issuers of international securities along sectoral lines. We find that patterns evident in the aggregate data do not uniformly apply across the various holding and issuing sectors, such that a full understanding of cross-border portfolio positions requires granular-level analysis.
Abstract: In an extended Ricardian model of trade, we study the effects of improving trade deficits on relative prices, and the relation between productivity improvements and real exchange rates. An improvement in the trade balance induces relative wages to overshoot their long-run value, placing downward pressure on the terms of trade of the same order of magnitude found in Armington type models. Once the pattern of specialization changes, some of the decline is reversed with a smaller value of depreciation. We find that persistent productivity differentials do not cause distinct trends in the terms of trade. The result depends on the size of the non-tradable sector and the variability of industry-specific efficiencies. We also find that self-selection into export markets causes the relative price of non-tradable goods to respond to exogenous shift, giving birth to an endogenous Balassa-Samuelson effect. The model also suggests that in the long-run the variation of the real exchange rate is dominated by the volatility of the terms of trade.
Abstract: This paper studies how country size affects the role of the exchange rate in external adjustment. First, the impact of country size on the sensitivity of relative prices to external imbalances is explored in a twocountry neoclassical model. Second, at the empirical level, a significant effect of external imbalances on relative prices is found. In particular, a trade surplus is associated with a depreciation of the real exchange rate. Our estimations reveal a systematic pattern in the sensitivity of the real exchange rate to external imbalances: larger countries are characterized by a higher absolute trade elasticity of the exchange rate.
Abstract: There has been considerable bilateral variation in the pattern of portfolio capital flows during the global financial crisis: for a given destination, investors from different countries adjusted their holdings to different degrees. We show that the size of the initial bilateral holding, geographical distance, common language, the level of trade and common institutional linkages help to explain the pattern of adjustment. These bilateral factors are more important for equities than for bonds and for investors from developing countries than for investors from advanced countries.
Abstract: In this paper we examine shifts in the bilateral patterns in international portfolio holdings in emerging Europe during the 2001-2008 period. In relation to the 2001-2007 pre-crisis period, we find some evidence that shifts in the geographical composition of portfolio equity liabilities reflect shifts in bilateral trade patterns. In addition, we find that the new member states disproportionately attracted portfolio equity investment from other members of the European Union after 2004. During the crisis period, we find that the bilateral composition of the shift in portfolio positions is affected by the scale of pre-crisis holdings and the geographical proximity of creditors. We also find that countries in the euro area are more likely to maintain portfolio positions in emerging Europe than were investors from other regions.
Abstract: We show that the composition of government spending influences the long-run behavior of the real exchange rate. We develop a two-sector small open-economy model in which an increase in government consumption is associated with real appreciation, while an increase in government investment may generate real depreciation. Our empirical work confirms that government consumption and government investment have differential effects on the real exchange rate and the relative price of nontradables.
Abstract: Our goal in this paper is to investigate the relation between government spending and the long-run behaviour of the Irish real exchange rate. We postulate that an increase in government consumption should be associated with real appreciation, while the impact of government investment is ambiguous. Empirically, we find that an increase in government consumption indeed appreciates the real exchange rate while an increase in government investment is associated with real depreciation. Accordingly, the level and composition of government spending matters for Irish external competitiveness.
Abstract: We quantify the role of the extensive margin in the recent trade dynamics of selected countries that are running large and persistent trade imbalances. We find that the role of the extensive margin is quite substantial, although it varies in significance across the countries in the sample. Finally, we highlight differences in behaviour between the fixed-varieties and varieties-adjusted terms of trade.