Do Conventional Monetary Policy Instruments Matter in Unconventional Times?
This paper investigates how declines in the deposit facility rate set by the European Central Bank (ECB) affect bank behavior. The ECB aims to reduce banks’ incentives to hold reserves at the central bank and thus to encourage loan supply. However, given depressed margins in a low interest environment, banks might reallocate their liquidity toward more profitable liquid assets other than traditional loans. Our analysis is based on a sample of euro area banks for the period from 2009 to 2014. Three key findings arise. First, banks reduce their reserve holdings following declines in the deposit facility rate. Second, this effect is heterogeneous across banks depending on their business model. Banks with a more interest-sensitive business model are more responsive to changes in the deposit facility rate. Third, there is evidence of a reallocation of liquidity toward loans but not toward other liquid assets. This result is most pronounced for non-GIIPS countries of the euro area.
Asymmetric Investment Responses to Firm-specific Uncertainty
This paper analyzes how firm-specific uncertainty affects firms’ propensity to invest. We measure firm-specific uncertainty as firms’ absolute forecast errors derived from survey data of German manufacturing firms over 2007–2011. In line with the literature, our empirical findings reveal a negative impact of firm-specific uncertainty on investment. However, further results show that the investment response is asymmetric, depending on the size and direction of the forecast error. The investment propensity declines significantly if the realized situation is worse than expected. However, firms do not adjust their investment if the realized situation is better than expected, which suggests that the uncertainty effect counteracts the positive effect due to unexpectedly favorable business conditions. This can be one explanation behind the phenomenon of slow recovery in the aftermath of financial crises. Additional results show that the forecast error is highly concurrent with an ex-ante measure of firm-specific uncertainty we obtain from the survey data. Furthermore, the effect of firm-specific uncertainty is enforced for firms that face a tighter financing situation.