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9 posts on "Balance of Payments"

May 15, 2017

Do Credit Markets Watch the Waving Flag of Bankruptcy?



Personal bankruptcy is surprisingly common in the United States. Almost 15 percent of the U.S. population has filed for bankruptcy sometime over the past twenty-five years, based on my calculations using the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax (CCP). In 2015, roughly 800,000 debtors filed for bankruptcy, according to court records, representing 0.64 percent of U.S. households. One of the consequences for filers is a mark on their credit report—a bankruptcy “flag”—which indicates that the consumer has filed for bankruptcy.

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May 09, 2016

The Turnaround in Private and Public Financial Outflows from China



LSE_2016_china-reserves_klitgaard_460_art

China lends to the rest of the world because it saves much more than it needs to fund its high level of physical investment spending. For years, the public sector accounted for this lending through the Chinese central bank’s purchase of foreign assets, but this changed in 2015. The country still had substantial net financial outflows, but unlike in previous years, more private money was pouring out of China than was flowing in. This shift in private sector behavior forced the central bank to sell foreign assets so that the sum of net private and public outflows would equal the saving surplus at prevailing exchange rates. Explanations for this turnaround by private investors include lower returns on domestic investment spending and a less optimistic outlook for China’s currency.


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August 12, 2015

Do Asset Purchase Programs Push Capital Abroad?

Thomas Klitgaard and David Lucca

LSE_2015_asset-purchase_lucca_450_art

Euro area sovereign bond yields fell to record lows and the euro weakened after the European Central Bank (ECB) dramatically expanded its asset purchase program in early 2015. Some analysts predicted massive financial outflows spilling out of the euro area and affecting global markets as investors sought higher yields abroad. These arguments ignore balance of payments accounting, which requires any financial outflow from the euro area to be matched by a similar-sized inflow, absent a quick and substantial current account improvement. The focus on cross-border financial flows also is misguided since, according to asset pricing principles, the euro and global asset prices can move without any change in financial outflows.

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June 24, 2015

Falling Oil Prices and Global Saving



oil_rig_at-night

The rise in oil prices from near $30 per barrel in 2000 to around $110 per barrel in mid-2014 was a dramatic reallocation of global income to oil producers. So what did oil producers do with this bounty? Trade data show that they spent about half of the increase in total export revenues on imports and the other half to buy foreign assets. The drop in oil prices will unwind this process. Oil-importing countries will gain from lower oil bills, but they will also see a decline in their exports to oil-producing countries and in purchases of their assets by investors in these countries. Indeed, one can make the case that the drop in oil prices, by itself, is putting upward pressure on interest rates as income shifts away from countries that have had a relatively high propensity to save.

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November 04, 2013

Japan's Missing Wall of Money

Thomas Klitgaard

The Bank of Japan announced an open-ended asset purchase program in January 2013 and an unexpectedly ramped-up version of the program was implemented in early April. Market commentary at that time suggested that flooding the economy with liquidity would lead to a “wall of money” flowing out of Japan in search of higher yields, affecting asset prices worldwide. So far, however, Japan’s wall of money remains missing in action, with no pickup in Japanese foreign investment since the April policy shift. Why is this? Here we explain that while economic theory does not offer clear guidance on how financial outflows might respond to the injection of cash from central bank asset purchases, it does point to an important constraint on the potential size. In particular, monetary expansion will not cause a surge in financial outflows unless it also induces a similar surge in capital flowing into the country.

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October 02, 2013

Capital Flight inside the Euro Area: Cooling Off a Fire Sale

Matthew Higgins and Thomas Klitgaard

Countries in the euro area periphery such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain saw large-scale capital flight in 2011 and the first half of 2012. While events unfolded much like a balance of payments crisis, the contraction in domestic credit was less severe than would ordinarily be caused by capital flight of this scale. Why was that? An important reason is that much of the capital flight was financed by credits to deficit countries’ central banks, with those credits extended collectively by other central banks in the euro area. This balance of payments financing was paired with policies to supply liquidity to periphery commercial banks. Absent these twin lifelines, periphery countries would have had to endure even steeper recessions from the sudden withdrawal of foreign capital.

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May 22, 2013

Foreign Borrowing in the Euro Area Periphery: The End Is Near

Matthew Higgins and Thomas Klitgaard

Current account deficits in euro area periphery countries have now largely disappeared. This represents a substantial adjustment. Only two years ago, deficits stood at nearly 10 percent of GDP in Greece and Portugal and 5 percent in Spain and Italy (see chart below). This sharp narrowing means that spending has been brought in line with income, largely righting an imbalance that had left these countries dependent on heavy foreign borrowing. However, adjustment has come at a sizable cost to growth, with lower domestic spending only partly offset by higher export sales. Downward pressure on domestic spending should abate now that the periphery countries have been weaned from foreign borrowing. The risk, though, is that foreign creditors might demand that the countries pay down (rather than merely service) accumulated external debts, forcing them to reduce spending below incomes.

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November 14, 2012

Income Flows from U.S. Foreign Assets and Liabilities

Matthew Higgins and Thomas Klitgaard

Foreign investors placed roughly $1.0 trillion in U.S. assets in 2011, pushing the total value of their claims on the United States to $20.6 trillion. Over the same period, U.S. investors placed $0.5 trillion abroad, bringing total U.S. holdings of foreign assets to $16.4 trillion. One might expect that the large gap of -$4.2 trillion between U.S. assets and liabilities would come with a substantial servicing burden. Yet U.S. income receipts easily exceed payments abroad. As we explain in this post, a key reason is that foreign investments in the United States are weighted toward interest-bearing assets currently paying a low rate of return while U.S. investments abroad are weighted toward multinationals' foreign operations and other corporate claims earning a much higher rate of return.

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February 27, 2012

How the High Level of Reserves Benefits the Payment System

Morten Bech, Antoine Martin, and Jamie McAndrews

Since October 2008, the Federal Reserve has increased the size of its balance sheet by lending to financial intermediaries and purchasing assets on a large scale. While these actions have increased the amount of reserves in the U.S. banking system and therefore raised concerns about excessive bank lending and inflation, we can document an important and overlooked benefit of the high level of reserves: a significantly earlier settlement of payments on Fedwire, the Federal Reserve’s large-value payment system. Quicker settlement on Fedwire improves liquidity throughout the economy, reducing uncertainty and risk for people and firms that rely on banks. At the same time, the Fed has been extending less intraday credit, which reduces the public’s risk exposure.

Continue reading "How the High Level of Reserves Benefits the Payment System" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Balance of Payments, Fed Funds, Financial Markets, Macroecon | Permalink | Comments (0)
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