- Center for Financial Studies (CFS) (701)
Nominal rigidities and the optimal rate of inflation
Torben M. Andersen
- This paper analyses two reasons why inflation may interfere with price adjustment so as to create inefficiencies in resource allocation at low rates of inflation. The first argument is that the higher the rate of inflation the lower the likelihood that downward nominal rigidities are binding (the Tobin argument) which implies a non-linear Phillips-curve. The second argument is that low inflation strengthens nominal price rigidities and thus impairs the flexibility of the price system resulting in a less efficient resource allocation. It is argued that inflation can be too low from a welfare point of view due to the presence of nominal rigidities, but the quantitative importance is an open question.
Empirical analysis of credit relationships in small firms financing : sampling design and descriptive statistics
- Despite the relevance of credit financing for the profit and risk situation of commercial banks only little empirical evidence on the initial credit decision and monitoring process exists due to the lack of appropriate data on bank debt financing. The present paper provides a systematic overview of a data set generated during the Center for Financial Studies research project on "Credit Management" which was designed to fill this empirical void. The data set contains a broad list of variables taken from the credit files of five major German banks. It is a random sample drawn from all customers which have engaged in some form of borrowing from the banks in question between January 1992 and January 1997 and which meet a number of selection criteria. The sampling design and data collection procedure are discussed in detail. Additionally, the project's research agenda is described and some general descriptive statistics of the firms in our sample are provided.
Credit unions and the common bond
William R. Emmons
Frank A. Schmid
- Credit Unions are cooperative financial institutions specializing in the basic financial needs of certain groups of consumers. A distinguishing feature of credit unions is the legal requirement that members share a common bond. This organizing principle recently became the focus of national attention as the Supreme Court and the U.S. Congress took opposite sides in a controversy regarding the number of common bonds that could co-exist within the membership of a single credit union. Despite its importance, little research has been done into how common bonds affect how credit unions actually operate. We frame the issues with a simple theoretical model of credit-union formation and consolidation. To provide intuition into the flexibility of multiple-group credit unions in serving members, we simulate the model and present some comparative-static results. We then apply a semi-parametric empirical model to a large dataset drawn from federally chartered occupational credit unions in 1996 to investigate the effects of common bonds. Our results suggest that credit unions with multiple common bonds have higher participation rates than credit unions that are otherwise similar but whose membership shares a single common bond.
Transparency in monetary policy
- For some time now the buzzword 'transparency' has been bandied about in the media almost daily. For example, calls were made for greater transparency in the financial system in connection with developments in the Asian financial markets. But the call for greater transparency goes far beyond the financial markets. It is now regarded as a necessary part of "good governance" demanded of all economic policy makers. As the World Bank's chief economist Joseph Stiglitz put it: 'No one would dare say that they were against transparency (....): It would be like saying you were against motherhood or apple pie.' This paper focuses on transparency in monetary policy, in particular with respect to the European System of Central Bank.
The evolution of global standards of accounting
- The globalization of markets and companies has increased the demand for internationally comparable high quality accounting information resulting from a common set of accounting rules. Despite remarkable efforts of international harmonization for more than 25 years, accounting regulation is still the domain of national legislators or delegated standard setters. The paper starts by outlining the reasons for this state of affairs and by characterizing the different institutional backgrounds of accounting standard setting in four selected countries as well as on the international level. This is followed by a summary of important international differences in accounting rules and a summary of the empirical evidence of the impact of different rules on the resulting numbers and their relevance to users. It is argued that neither a priori theoretical reasoning nor the evidence from empirical studies provides a convincing basis for choices between accounting regimes and even less so between specific accounting rules. As there is a broad consensus that there is a need for one set of global accounting standards the final sections of the paper discuss currently existing and proposed structures of international accounting standard setting. The evolving new IASC structure is critically evaluated.
Systemic risk in the financial sector: what can we learn from option markets? : [version 10 february 2014]
- We propose a novel approach on how to estimate systemic risk and identify its key determinants. For US financial companies with publicly traded equity options, we extract option-implied value-at-risks and measure the spillover effects between individual company value-at-risks and the option-implied value-at-risk of a financial index. First, we study the spillover effect of increasing company risks on the financial sector. Second, we analyze which companies are mostly affected if the tail risk of the financial sector increases. Key metrics such as size, leverage, market-to-book ratio and earnings have a significant influence on the systemic risk profiles of financial institutions.
On the welfare cost of consumption fluctuations in the
presence of memorable goods : [version october 17, 2013]
- We propose a new classification of consumption goods into nondurable goods, durable goods and a new class which we call “memorable” goods. A good is memorable if a consumer can draw current utility from its past consumption experience through memory. We construct a novel consumption-savings model in which a consumer has a well-defined preference ordering over both nondurable goods and memorable goods. Memorable goods consumption differs from nondurable goods consumption in that current memorable goods consumption may also impact future utility through the accumulation process of the stock of memory. In our model, households optimally choose a lumpy profile of memorable goods consumption even in a frictionless world. Using Consumer Expenditure Survey data, we then document levels and volatilities of different groups of consumption goods expenditures, as well as their expenditure patterns, and show that the expenditure patterns on memorable goods indeed differ significantly from those on nondurable and durable goods. Finally, we empirically evaluate our model’s predictions with respect to the welfare cost of consumption fluctuations and conduct an excess-sensitivity test of the consumption response to predictable income changes. We find that (i) the welfare cost of household-level consumption fluctuations may be overstated by 1.7 percentage points (11.9% points as opposed to 13.6% points of permanent consumption) if memorable goods are not appropriately accounted for; (ii) the finding of excess sensitivity of consumption documented in important papers of the literature might be entirely due to the presence of memorable goods.
Why do retail investors make costly mistakes?
An experiment on mutual fund choice
Jill E. Fisch
- There is mounting evidence that retail investors make predictable, costly investment mistakes, including underinvestment, naïve diversification, and payment of excessive fund fees. Over the past thirty-five years, however, participant-directed 401(k) plans have largely replaced professionally managed pension plans, requiring unsophisticated retail investors to navigate the financial markets themselves. Policy-makers have struggled with regulatory interventions designed to improve the quality of investment decisions without a clear understanding of the reasons for investor mistakes. Absent such an understanding, it is difficult to design effective regulatory responses. This article offers a first step in understanding the investor decision-making process. We use an internet-based experiment to disentangle possible explanations for inefficient investment decisions. The experiment employs a simplified construct of an employee’s allocation among the options in a retirement plan coupled with technology that enables us to collect data on the specific information that investors choose to view. In addition to collecting general information about the process by which investors choose among mutual fund options, we employ an experimental manipulation to test the effect of an instruction on the importance of mutual fund fees. Pairing this instruction with simplified fee disclosure allows us to distinguish between motivation-limits and cognition-limits as explanations for the widespread findings that investors ignore fees in their investment decisions. Our results offer partial but limited grounds for optimism. On the one hand, within our simplified experimental construct, our subjects allocated more money, on average, to higher-value funds. Furthermore, subjects who received the fees instruction paid closer attention to mutual fund fees and allocated their investments into funds with lower fees. On the other hand, the effects of even a blunt fees instruction were limited, and investors were unable to identify and avoid clearly inferior fund options. In addition, our results suggest that excessive, naïve diversification strategies are driving many investment decisions. Although our findings are preliminary, they suggest valuable avenues for future research and important implications for regulation of retail investing.
Do high-frequency financial data help forecast oil
prices? The MIDAS touch at work : [version november 20, 2013]
- The substantial variation in the real price of oil since 2003 has renewed interest in the question of how to forecast monthly and quarterly oil prices. There also has been increased interest in the link between financial markets and oil markets, including the question of whether financial market information helps forecast the real price of oil in physical markets. An obvious advantage of financial data in forecasting oil prices is their availability in real time on a daily or weekly basis. We investigate whether mixed-frequency models may be used to take advantage of these rich data sets. We show that, among a range of alternative high-frequency predictors, especially changes in U.S. crude oil inventories produce substantial and statistically significant real-time improvements in forecast accuracy. The preferred MIDAS model reduces the MSPE by as much as 16 percent compared with the no-change forecast and has statistically significant directional accuracy as high as 82 percent. This MIDAS forecast also is more accurate than a mixed-frequency realtime VAR forecast, but not systematically more accurate than the corresponding forecast based on monthly inventories. We conclude that typically not much is lost by ignoring high-frequency financial data in forecasting the monthly real price of oil.
Investor protection through model case procedures –
implementing collective goals and individual rights under the 2012 Amendment of the German Capital Markets Model Case Act (KapMuG)
- Model case procedures have some fundamentals in common with collective redress in civil law countries. This is particularly true in the field of investor protection which is highly regulated and marked by resulting enforcement failures, which led the German legislator to the enactment of the KapMuG and its recent amendment which highlight exemplary elements of model case procedure. A survey of the ongoing activities of the European Union in the area of collective redress and of its repercussions on the member state level therefore forms a suitable basis for the following analysis of the 2012 amendment of the KapMuG. It clearly brings into focus a shift from sector-specific regulation with an emphasis on the cross-border aspect of protecting consumers towards a “coherent approach” strengthening the enforcement of EU law. As a result, regulatory policy and collective redress are two sides of the same coin today. With respect to the KapMuG such a development brings about some tension between its aim to aggregate small individual claims as efficiently as possible and the dominant role of individual procedural rights in German civil procedure. This conflict can be illustrated by some specific rules of the KapMuG: its scope of application, the three-tier procedure of a model case procedure, the newly introduced notification of claims and the new opt-out settlement under the amended §§ 17-19.