The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The financial crisis, recession, and slow recovery have emphasized the interactions between financial markets and the real economy. These developments have also motivated macroeconomists, central bankers, and financial regulators to think of new policy instruments that could help limit “systemic” or “systemwide” financial risks, as the Bank for International Settlements and the Financial Stability Board describe them. But apart from finding the right tools, policymakers are also interested in understanding how such instruments should be set in conjunction with monetary policy. In this post, we discuss the issues that arise when deciding how to design institutions for monetary and macroprudential policymaking. It turns out that the answer to this question hinges on a key issue in monetary policy: the ability of a decisionmaker to make binding commitments regarding his or her future behavior.
In 1720, the South Sea Company offered to pay the British
government for the right to buy the national debt from debtholders in exchange
for shares backed by dividends to be paid from the company’s debt holdings and
South Sea trade profits. The Bank of England countered the proposal and the two
then competed for the right to buy the debt, with South Sea ultimately winning
through bribes to the government. Later that year, the government moved to
divert more capital to South Sea shares by hampering investment opportunities
for rival companies in what became known as the Bubble Act, and public
confidence was shaken. In this edition of the Crisis Chronicles, we explore the
rise and fall of the South Sea Company and offer a cautionary look at the
current reach for yield.
Basit Zafar, Max Livingston, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
One of the direct effects of the 2008 financial crisis on U.S. households was a sharp tightening of credit. Households that had previously been able to borrow relatively freely through credit cards, home equity loans, or personal loans suddenly found those lines closed off—just when they needed them the most. In recent months, aggregate statistics such as the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Credit series and the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey have shown a gradual improvement in consumer credit. The former series is an indicator of interaction of credit supply and demand, while the latter shows only short-term changes in demand and supply (as reported by lenders) separately. It is, therefore, not entirely clear whether the observed trends are a result of fluctuations in demand or supply. Are those demanding credit getting it? What differences are there among U.S. consumers in their demand for and access to credit?
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.
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from New York Fed economists working at the intersection of research and policy. Launched in 2011, the blog takes its name from the Bank’s headquarters at 33 Liberty Street in Manhattan’s Financial District.
The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Asani Sarkar, all economists in the Bank’s Research Group.
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