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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Filed under Banking

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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Filed under Banking, Currency, Financial Stability

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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Filed under Macroeconomics

US Hurricane Clustering: A New Reality?

Alex Ntelekos, Dimitris Papachristou and Juan Duan

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was the fifth most active in 168 years.  It was also one of only six seasons to see multiple Cat 5 hurricanes (Irma & Maria).  These two hurricanes, followed similar tracks and, together with Hurricane Harvey, occurred close together.  This situation can hinder relief efforts.  For insurers it may also lead to resource strain, disputes and unhedged risks, if insurers do not have enough ‘sideways’ reinsurance cover.  Our post asks whether three major hurricanes occurring in the US in close succession really was exceptional or, as our analysis of recent data suggests, it might happen more often in future.  Is the insurance industry underestimating the likely ‘clustering’ of major hurricanes?

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Filed under Insurance, Microprudential Regulation

Has the UK’s demand for cars run out of gas?

Simon Kirby, Andre Moreira and Michal Stelmach

New car registrations, a timely indicator of the cyclical position of the economy, fell in 2017 for the first time since 2011. Some have attributed this drop to tax changes which took effect last April. But we think the squeeze on real incomes was a more significant factor. Our analysis also suggests that the rapid growth in new car sales seen from 2013-16 was unlikely to be sustained. Given the expected path of household income we expect new car purchases to remain subdued in 2018, compared to levels seen in recent years.

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Algos all go?

Francis Breedon, Louisa Chen, Angelo Ranaldo and Nicholas Vause

Most academic studies find that algorithmic trading improves the quality of financial markets in normal times by boosting market liquidity (so larger trades can be executed more quickly at lower cost) and enhancing price efficiency (so market prices better reflect all value-relevant information). But what about in times of market stress? In a recent paper looking at the removal of the Swiss franc cap, we find that algorithmic trading provided less liquidity than usual, at worse prices, and that its contribution to efficient pricing dropped to near zero. Market quality benefits from a diversity of participants pursuing different trading strategies, but it seems this was undermined in this episode by commonalities in the way algorithms responded.

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Filed under Currency, Financial Markets, Financial Stability

Bitesize: The past decade’s productivity growth in historical context

John Lewis

How poor has the past decade of productivity growth been by historical standards? Exceptionally.

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Filed under Bitesize, Economic History, Macroeconomics

Is the tail wagging the dog? The impact of VIX exchange traded products on equity volatility

Olga Maizels

Volatility returned to markets in early February, sparked by strong US wage growth data.  After  months of calm, the S&P 500 equity index fell by 4% on 5 February and the VIX – a measure of US equity volatility that is sometimes referred to as Wall Street’s “fear gauge” – experienced its largest one-day move in its 28-year history.  Interestingly, measures of volatility in other markets, including interest rates and currencies, moved by much less.  So what caused the outsized spike in the VIX?  Some of the rise was linked to rebalancing flows associated with VIX exchange-traded products (ETPs), which can amplify moves in the volatility market.  The events have also led to some questions whether developments in VIX ETPs can also affect the S&P 500 itself –whether the ‘tail’ can wag the ‘dog’.

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UK trade: going steady since the 1960s

Tommaso Aquilante, Enrico Longoni, Patrick Schneider

Countries’ goods exports are normally defined in terms of what has been shipped when and where. Recent literature (e.g. Besedeš and Prusa, 2011 and Besedeš et al, 2016) shows that looking at how long trade relationships have been in place is important as well. Using highly granular data, we show that over 60% of the value of UK nominal goods exports is in very mature trading relationships, by which we mean exports of a particular product between a pair of countries in a given year. This is true even with substantial churn (new relationships starting and old ones ceasing) going on all the while, and for exports in real terms as well.

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Filed under International Economics