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The Joint Dynamics of Sovereign Ratings and Government Bond Yields

Makram El-Shagi Gregor von Schweinitz

in: Journal of Banking & Finance, 2018

Abstract

Can a negative shock to sovereign ratings invoke a vicious cycle of increasing government bond yields and further downgrades, ultimately pushing a country toward default? The narratives of public and political discussions, as well as of some widely cited papers, suggest this possibility. In this paper, we will investigate the possible existence of such a vicious cycle. We find no evidence of a bad long-run equilibrium and cannot confirm a feedback loop leading into default as a transitory state for all but the very worst ratings. We use a bivariate semiparametric dynamic panel model to reproduce the joint dynamics of sovereign ratings and government bond yields. The individual equations resemble Pesaran-type cointegration models, which allow for valid interference regardless of whether the employed variables display unit-root behavior. To incorporate most of the empirical features previously documented (separately) in the literature, we allow for different long-run relationships in both equations, nonlinearities in the level effects of ratings, and asymmetric effects in changes of ratings and yields. Our finding of a single good equilibrium implies the slow convergence of ratings and yields toward this equilibrium. However, the persistence of ratings is sufficiently high that a rating shock can have substantial costs if it occurs at a highly speculative rating or lower. Rating shocks that drive the rating below this threshold can increase the interest rate sharply, and for a long time. Yet, simulation studies based on our estimations show that it is highly improbable that rating agencies can be made responsible for the most dramatic spikes in interest rates.

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Inference in Structural Vector Autoregressions when the Identifying Assumptions are not Fully Believed: Re-evaluating the Role of Monetary Policy in Economic Fluctuations

Christiane Baumeister James D. Hamilton

in: Journal of Monetary Economics, 2018

Abstract

Point estimates and error bands for SVARs that are set identified are only justified if the researcher is persuaded that some parameter values are a priori more plausible than others. When such prior information exists, traditional approaches can be generalized to allow for doubts about the identifying assumptions. We use information about both structural coefficients and impacts of shocks and propose a new asymmetric t-distribution for incorporating information about signs in a nondogmatic way. We apply these methods to a three-variable macroeconomic model and conclude that monetary policy shocks are not the major driver of output, inflation, or interest rates.

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Real Effective Exchange Rate Misalignment in the Euro Area: A Counterfactual Analysis

Makram El-Shagi Axel Lindner Gregor von Schweinitz

in: Review of International Economics, Nr. 1, 2016

Abstract

The European debt crisis has revealed severe imbalances within the Euro area, sparking a debate about the magnitude of those imbalances, in particular concerning real effective exchange rate misalignments. We use synthetic matching to construct a counterfactual economy for each member state in order to identify the degree of these misalignments. We find that crisis countries are best described as a combination of advanced and emerging economies. Comparing the actual real effective exchange rate with those of the counterfactuals gives evidence of misalignments before the outbreak of the crisis: all peripheral countries appear strongly and significantly overvalued.

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Financial Constraints on Growth: Comparing the Balkans to Other Transition Economies

Hubert Gabrisch

in: Eastern European Economics, Nr. 4, 2015

Abstract

This article applies an adjusted growth diagnostic approach to identify the currently most binding constraint on financing growth in the West Balkan countries. Since this group of economies faces both structural and systemic transformation problems, the original supply-side approach might not be sufficient to detect the most binding constraint. The results of the analysis indicate that the binding constraint on credit and investment growth in the region is the high and increasing share of nonperforming loans, primarily in the household sector, due to policy failures. This article compares the Balkan countries to a group of advanced transition economies. Single-country and panel regressions indicate that demand-side factors do not play a constraining role on growth in the West Balkan countries, but they do in the advanced transition economies.

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Risk and Return - Is there an Unholy Cycle of Ratings and Yields?

Makram El-Shagi Gregor von Schweinitz

in: Economics Letters, 2015

Abstract

After every major financial crisis, the question about the responsibility of the rating agencies resurfaces. Regarding government bonds, the most frequently voiced concern targeted “unreasonably” bad ratings that might trigger capital flights and increasing risk premia which sanction further rating downgrades. In this paper we develop a multivariate, nonparametric version of the Pesaran type cointegration model that allows for nonlinearities, to show that a unique equilibrium between ratings and sovereign yields exists. Therefore, we have to reject the concern that there is an unholy cycle leading to certain default in the long run.

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