Saleem Bahaj, Robert Czech, Sitong Ding and Ricardo Reis
Few topics captivate our attention like the enigma of inflation. Understanding where the market thinks inflation is headed is crucial for policymakers, investors, and anyone who wants to keep their financial ducks in a row. And that’s where inflation swaps come into play. They are like the crystal ball of inflation expectations, allowing traders to hedge against inflation risk and giving us a peek into the minds of market participants. In a recent paper, we delve into this thriving market to uncover the who, what, and why behind the prices of these swaps to shed light on the dynamics of inflation expectations.
Ambrogio Cesa-Bianchi, Federico Di Pace, Aydan Dogan and Alex Haberis
The recent steep rise in energy prices led to a rise in the price of energy-intensive tradable goods, with inflationary pressures subsequently broadening into services in many economies. Because services are less traded and have little energy input some have suggested this broadening might indicate inflationary pressures becoming more persistent. In this post, we explore the issue through the lens of a stylised two-country model with a tradable and a non-tradable sector. It suggests that following an energy price shock: i) the broadening of inflation from goods to services need not imply more persistent inflationary pressure or changed longer-run expectations, but may reflect one-off adjustments via domestic labour markets; and ii) Inflationary pressures in non-tradable sectors can still have sizable international spillovers.
In macroeconomic models, economic agents are often assumed to perfectly observe the current state, but in reality they have to infer current conditions (nowcast). Because of information costs, this is not always easy. Information costs are not observable in the data but they can be proxied. A good proxy is disagreement on a near-term forecast because significant disagreement indicates that it is difficult to observe current economic conditions – ie higher information frictions. If the ability to nowcast varies over time, this may affect agents’ ability to respond to various shocks, including monetary policy shocks. My recent paper shows that when disagreement is higher, contractionary monetary policy brings down inflation, at the cost of a greater fall in economic activity.
Central banks respond to inflation by setting interest rates in order to achieve domestic price stability. Occasionally, economic shocks are global in nature and so monetary policy can move in tandem across the world. But how common have directional changes in monetary policy been across the world over recent decades?
Macroeconomic outcomes in Britain’s interwar years were terrible – they featured two of modern Britain’s worst recessions, unemployment twice peaked above 20% and was rarely below 10% and there were two periods of chronic deflation. Policy, meanwhile, was pulled in multiple directions by multiple objectives – employment, price and financial stability and debt sustainability. These challenges gave birth to modern macroeconomics, inspiring the work of John Maynard Keynes. In a new working paper, I apply modern empirical techniques to look at the period with fresh eyes. I find that monetary and fiscal policy played a central role in macroeconomic developments – and that outcomes could have been better had policymakers been less wedded to the traditional policy consensus, and especially the Gold Standard.
Could the slow response of deposit rates to changes in monetary policy strengthen its impact on the economy? At first look, the answer would probably be ‘no’. Imperfect pass-through of policy to deposit rates means that the rates on a portion of assets in the economy respond by less than they could. But what if this meant that the rates on other assets responded by more? In a recent paper, I develop a model that is consistent with a number of features of banks’ assets and liabilities and find that monetary policy has a largereffect on economic activity and inflation if the pass-through of policy to deposit rates is partial.
Stephen Millard, Margarita Rubio and Alexandra Varadi
The 2008 global financial crisis showed the need for effective macroprudential policy. But what tools should macroprudential policy makers use and how effective are they? We examined these questions in in a recent staff working paper. We introduced different macroprudential tools into a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model of the UK economy and compared their impact on the economy and household welfare, as well as their interaction with each other and with monetary policy. We found that capital requirements reduce the effects of financial shocks. Instead, a limit on how much of borrowers’ income is spent on mortgage interest payments reduces the volatility of lending, output and inflation resulting from housing market shocks.
Quantitative easing (QE) involves creating new central bank reserves to fund asset purchases. Deposited in the reserves account of the seller’s bank, these reserves can have implications for banks’ asset mixes. In our paper, we use balance sheet data for 118 UK banks to empirically investigate whether the asset compositions of banks involved in the UK QE operations reacted differently in comparison to banks not involved in the initial rounds of QE between March 2009 and July 2012.
The Bank of England co-organised a ‘History and Policy Making Conference‘ in late 2020. This guest post by Nathan Sussman, Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, is based on material included in his conference presentation.
There is ample evidence that a monetary policy tightening triggers a decline in consumer price inflation and a simultaneous contraction in investment and consumption (eg Erceg and Levin (2006) and Monacelli (2009)). However, in a standard two-sector New Keynesian model, consumption falls while investment increases in response to a monetary policy tightening. In a new paper, we propose a solution to this problem, known as the ‘comovement puzzle’. Guided by new empirical evidence on the relevance of frictions in credit provision, we show that adding these frictions to the standard model resolves the comovement puzzle. This has important policy implications because the degree of comovement between consumption and investment matters for the effectiveness of monetary policy.