Category Archives: Macroeconomics

The Forward Guidance Paradox

Alex Haberis, Richard Harrison and Matt Waldron.

In textbook models of monetary policy, a promise to hold interest rates lower in the future has very powerful effects on economic activity and inflation today.   This result relies on: a) a strong link between expected future policy rates and current activity; b) a belief that the policymaker will make good on the promise.  We draw on analysis from our Staff Working Paper and show that there is a tension between (a) and (b) that creates a paradox: the stronger the expectations channel, the less likely it is that people will believe the promise in the first place.   As a result, forward guidance promises in these models are much less powerful than standard analysis suggests.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy, New Methodologies

Imports and the composition of expenditure

Alex Tuckett

A fall in the real exchange rate can increase demand for domestic output in two main ways. The volume of exports – which become cheaper – is boosted. And goods and services that were previously imported can instead be supplied by domestic producers, which become more competitive as the price of imports rises. Economists call the second effect ‘import substitution’. Using data from Supply-Use tables can help us better understand the process of import substitution, in particular by examining how the composition of expenditure has influenced imports. Doing so shows that the import substitution effect of the 2008-09 depreciation was partly masked by other, co-incident factors.

Continue reading

Comments Off on Imports and the composition of expenditure

Filed under International Economics, Macroeconomics

Do core and transitory volatilities matter for the economy?

Jeremy Chiu, Richard Harris and Evarist Stoja

Financial market shocks: do they matter for the economy?

Financial markets are intrinsically volatile, constantly fluctuating in response to a wide variety of news. Often, these shocks to volatility are short-lived, perhaps reflecting a one-off adjustment in asset prices or the market’s overreaction to news, and have a tendency to dissipate rapidly. But sometimes they lead to a sustained increase in market volatility, reflecting a deeper uncertainty over the future macroeconomy that can take time to resolve itself.  Indeed, a considerable body of empirical evidence suggests that financial market volatility is made up of two components: a slowly varying ‘core’ component and a ‘transitory’ component that dissipates quickly. We develop a way to identify each type and estimate how they affect the broader economy.

Continue reading

Comments Off on Do core and transitory volatilities matter for the economy?

Filed under Financial Markets, Macroeconomics, Uncategorized

Does productivity drive wages? Evidence from sectoral data

Alex Tuckett

Since 2008, aggregate productivity performance in the UK has been substantially worse than in the preceding eight years. Over the same period, aggregate real wage growth has also been significantly lower – it has averaged -0.4% per annum from 2009-16, compared with 2.3% per annum from 2000-08. The MPC, and others, have drawn a link between these two phenomena, arguing that low productivity growth has been a major cause – if not the major cause – of weak wage growth. The logic is simple – if workers produce less output for firms, then in a competitive market firms will only be willing to employ them at a lower wage.

Continue reading

Comments Off on Does productivity drive wages? Evidence from sectoral data

Filed under Macroeconomics

Bitesize: Correction to ‘There are two productivity puzzles’

Patrick Schneider

Last year I published a post arguing that there are two productivity puzzles – one in the level and the other in the growth rate of labour productivity – that contained an error. In the original blog, I showed that we could decompose the puzzle(s!) into contributions from either slower than trend growth in capital services per hour worked (capital deepening) or technology growth (TFP).

Continue reading

Comments Off on Bitesize: Correction to ‘There are two productivity puzzles’

Filed under Macroeconomics

An intuitive interpretation of factor models

Sinem Hacioglu Hoke and Kerem Tuzcuoglu

We economists want to have our cake and eat it. We have far more data series at our disposal now than ever before. But using all of them in regressions would lead to wild “over-fitting” – finding random correlations in the data rather than explaining the true underlying relationships. Researchers using large data sets have historically experienced this dilemma – you can either throw away some of the information and retain clean, interpretable models; or keep most of the information but lose interpretability. This trade-off is particularly frustrating in a policy environment where understanding the identified relationships is crucial. However, in a recent working paper we show how to sidestep this trade-off by estimating a factor model with intuitive results.

Continue reading

Comments Off on An intuitive interpretation of factor models

Filed under Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy, New Methodologies

Low for long: what does this mean for defined-benefit pensions in the UK?

Frank Eich and Jumana Saleheen.

Despite the fact that the financial crisis erupted nearly a decade ago, its legacy is still being felt today.  Disappointingly weak growth and low interest rates are arguably part of that legacy (though other developments also matter), and policy makers are increasingly worried that these are no longer temporary phenomena but instead have become permanent features.  This blog assesses what a prolonged period of weak growth and low interest rates (sometimes also referred to by “secular stagnation” or “low for long”) might mean for the viability of defined-benefit (DB) occupational pension schemes in the UK and what financial stability risks might arise as a result of a changing business environment.

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Banking, Financial Markets, Macroeconomics, New Methodologies

Should economists be more concerned about Artificial Intelligence?

Mauricio Armellini and Tim Pike.

This post highlights some of the possible economic implications of the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — whereby the use of new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) threatens to transform entire industries and sectors. Some economists have argued that, like past technical change, this will not create large-scale unemployment, as labour gets reallocated. However, many technologists are less optimistic about the employment implications of AI.  In this blog post we argue that the potential for simultaneous and rapid disruption, coupled with the breadth of human functions that AI might replicate, may have profound implications for labour markets.  We conclude that economists should seriously consider the possibility that millions of people may be at risk of unemployment, should these technologies be widely adopted.

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under International Economics, Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy

Is economic uncertainty holding back growth in the euro-area?

Lucia Quaglietti.

This blog discusses the impact of economic uncertainty on euro-area activity. To do that, we built on the methodology developed for the UK by Haddow et al. (2013). Our analysis suggests that elevated economic uncertainty has been an important driver of euro-area GDP during the financial and sovereign crisis, detracting (on average) around 0.5 pp from annual euro-area growth in the period between 2008Q3 and 2011Q3.  As the shock unwound, GDP was boosted during the subsequent recovery. This analysis suggests that any further increase in uncertainty could have a materially negative impact on euro-area activity. Therefore, it needs to be carefully monitored by policy makers, particularly in the context of the upcoming political elections in a number of countries.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under International Economics, Macroeconomics

Low real interest rates: depression economics, not secular trends

Gene Kindberg-Hanlon.

Real interest rates have fallen by around 5 percentage points since the 1980s.  Many economists attribute this to “secular” trends such as a structural slowdown in global growth, changing demographics and a fall in the relative price of capital goods which will hold equilibrium rates low for a decade or more (Eggertsson et al., Summers, Rachel and Smith, and IMF).  In this blog post, I argue this explanation is wrong because it’s at odds with pre-1980s experience.  The 1980s were the anomaly (chart A).  The decline in real rates over the 1990s and early 2000s simply reflected a return to historical norms from an unusually high starting point.  Further falls since 2008 are far more plausibly related to the financial crisis than secular trends.

Continue reading

Comments Off on Low real interest rates: depression economics, not secular trends

Filed under International Economics, Macroeconomics