Who supplies liquidity in CHAPS?

Evangelos Benos and Christina Fritz

Every day UK banks and corporates (“participants”) make sizeable payments to each other through CHAPS, the country’s high-value payment system. However, these payments are liquidity-intensive: every payment must be pre-funded, i.e. the payer must have in place the full amount to be paid. This can be costly, so each participant would prefer to first receive some money from another one and then make its own payments by recycling the received amount. However, this still requires that some participants supply intra-day liquidity to the system by making the first payments. But who are these participants? This post shows that it is typically the smaller ones and also those perceived by markets to be riskier that get the ball rolling…

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Pumping Iron: How can metals prices help predict global growth?

Tom Wise

Estimates of GDP growth are published with a considerable lag – even in some major economies we still only have partial data on what GDP growth was in Q1 2018. So ‘nowcasting’ GDP using more timely indicators of economic activity is an important way of assessing the strength of the world economy in real time. Good indicators are timely, correlated with measures of world activity and should outperform simple benchmarks. Unlike other global indicators such as business surveys or trade data, metals prices are available minute by minute. They also tend to move closely with world GDP. This post assesses how well they perform at nowcasting world GDP.

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Tight labour markets and self-service beer: is the productivity slowdown about to reverse?

Will Holman and Tim Pike

Firms are increasingly investing in automation, substituting capital for labour, as workers become more scarce and costly. We are seeing multiple examples, from automation in food processing to increasingly-common self-service tills. This push for productivity growth is one of the key themes from our meetings with businesses in the past year, which we think suggests a reversal of a decade-long trend.

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Bank of England and Financial Times Schools blogging competition: And the winner is…

….Tyler Curtis from Hall Cross Academy, Doncaster, whose winning post, How lab-grown burgers could feed the world, is published today on Bank Underground and in the FT. You can also read the post selected by our judges as the runner-up, Facebook bank anyone? by Nicola Medicoff of St Paul’s Girls School, Hammersmith.

We had almost 200 entries from schools all over the UK, spanning an enormous range of topics. We had an enjoyable but tough task in whittling down the entries down to a final shortlist of 5.  The winner was picked  by our expert panel of Chris Giles (Economics Editor, FT), Martin Sandbu (Author of Free Lunch, FT), Silvana Tenreyro (Monetary Policy Committee member) and Sonya Branch (General Counsel at the BoE).  Sonya commented “I was enormously impressed by the number of innovative and thought provoking entries we received from students. The top two entries were particularly inspiring and challenge those of us who deal with these issues as part of our day jobs to think differently.” And Silvana added “It was thrilling to read so many insightful, thoughtful and well-crafted pieces.

A big thankyou to all those who took part. It was brilliant to read so many blog posts from the policymakers, commentators, business leaders and journalists of the future.  Whatever the future holds for the economy, we will have some very smart economists to help us understand it!

John Lewis

Managing Editor

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How lab-grown burgers could feed the world

Tyler Curtis

Tyler Curtis, from Hall Cross Academy, Doncaster is the winner of the Bank of England/Financial Times schools blogging competition. In his winning post, he looks at how artificial meat could reshape the economy and our environment…

Food, glorious food! But how glorious is it, especially meat, when its production is reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? Traditionally, a significant portion of the world’s workforce has been employed in agriculture throughout history, forcing us to allocate massive amounts of scarce resources to the sector. Today, nearly 27 per cent of people work in agriculture worldwide, according to the World Bank (the figure is just 1 per cent in the UK). However, the industry is on the verge of a new revolution.

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Filed under Guest Post, New Methodologies

Facebook bank anyone?

Nicola Medicoff

Nicola Medicoff from St Paul’s Girls School, Hammersmith is the runner up in the Bank of England/Financial Times schools blogging competition. In her post, she looks at how fintech might reshape the banking industry…

Six years after setting up shop in London, ride-hailing app Uber has a fleet of 40,000 drivers doing battle with Black cabs, upsetting an industry that has seen little change since Hackney carriages started in the 1650s. Banks are bracing themselves for a similar assault, in their case from small fintech start-ups and large technology groups. Are the banks’ fears justified?

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Filed under Banking, Guest Post

Should peer to peer lenders exist in theory?

John Lewis

Walter Heller famously said that an economist is someone who sees something in practice and wonders if it would work in theory.  Economic theory says banks exist because they channel loanable funds more efficiently than individual savers and investors pairing up bilaterally.  Those informational, diversification and maturity transformation considerations imply that banks should be able to out-compete peer to peer (P2P) lenders.  The stylised fact that few P2P platforms have made a profit to date is in line with this theory.  If so, then P2P lenders face a difficult future and they may need to become more like traditional banks in order to survive. Either way, that makes them much less disruptive than they first appear.

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Would a Central Bank Digital Currency disrupt monetary policy?

Ben Dyson and Jack Meaning

A “Central Bank Digital Currency” (CBDC) may sound like it’s from the future, but it’s something that many central banks are researching today, including those in Sweden, Canada, Denmark, China, and the European Central Bank and Bank of International Settlements (BIS). In a new working paper, we set aside questions about the technological, regulatory and legal aspects of central bank digital currency, and instead explore the underlying economics. Could the existence of a CBDC make it easier or harder for central banks to guide the economy through monetary policy? And could the existence of CBDC make the monetary transmission mechanism (MTM) faster or slower, stronger or weaker?

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Filed under Banking, Currency, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

Core Design Principles for a Central Bank Digital Currency

Clare Noone and Michael Kumhof

Does the introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) crowd out bank funding? Does it open the door to runs on the aggregate banking system? In a recent Staff Working Paper we provide insights on these questions. We find that some of the major risks to financial stability posed by CBDC can be addressed by a set of four core design principles for a CBDC system. Implementing these principles, however, is non-trivial and risks would remain.

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Home grown financing: How small business owners use their own houses to support investment

Saleem Bahaj, Angus Foulis and Gabor Pinter

Apocalypse Now is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the new Hollywood era. Director Francis Ford Coppola displayed audacious vision and a willingness to take risks. But we don’t just mean artistic risk. Mr Coppola gambled financially too: he staked his Napa Valley house and vineyard on the film, pledging it order to get the $32 million in loans necessary to keep the production on the road.  While his movie was exceptional, there is nothing unusual about Mr Coppola’s financial strategy.  Small business owners worldwide use their personal assets, and often their house, to back loans to their firms: in a new paper, we use microdata for several thousand firms to show how important this can be for UK investment.

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