Energy Markets and Global Economic Conditions

Christiane Baumeister Dimitris Korobilis Thomas K. Lee

in: Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming


We evaluate alternative indicators of global economic activity and other market funda-mentals in terms of their usefulness for forecasting real oil prices and global petroleum consumption. World industrial production is one of the most useful indicators. However, by combining measures from several different sources we can do even better. Our analysis results in a new index of global economic conditions and measures for assessing future energy demand and oil price pressures. We illustrate their usefulness for quantifying the main factors behind the severe contraction of the global economy and the price risks faced by shale oil producers in early 2020.

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The Appropriateness of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure for Central and Eastern European Countries

Geraldine Dany-Knedlik Martina Kämpfe Tobias Knedlik

in: Empirica, forthcoming


The European Commission’s Scoreboard of Macroeconomic Imbalances is a rare case of a publicly released early warning system. It was published first time in 2012 by the European Commission as a reaction to public debt crises in Europe. So far, the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure takes a one-size-fits-all approach with regard to the identification of thresholds. The experience of Central and Eastern European Countries during the global financial crisis and in the resulting public debt crises has been largely different from that of other European countries. This paper looks at the appropriateness of scoreboard of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure of the European Commission for this group of catching-up countries. It is shown that while some of the indicators of the scoreboard are helpful to predict crises in the region, thresholds are in most cases set too narrow since it largely disregarded the specifics of catching-up economies, in particular higher and more volatile growth rates of various macroeconomic variables.

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Optimizing Policymakers’ Loss Functions in Crisis Prediction: Before, Within or After?

Peter Sarlin Gregor von Schweinitz

in: Macroeconomic Dynamics, forthcoming


Early-warning models most commonly optimize signaling thresholds on crisis probabilities. The expost threshold optimization is based upon a loss function accounting for preferences between forecast errors, but comes with two crucial drawbacks: unstable thresholds in recursive estimations and an in-sample overfit at the expense of out-of-sample performance. We propose two alternatives for threshold setting: (i) including preferences in the estimation itself and (ii) setting thresholds ex-ante according to preferences only. Given probabilistic model output, it is intuitive that a decision rule is independent of the data or model specification, as thresholds on probabilities represent a willingness to issue a false alarm vis-à-vis missing a crisis. We provide simulated and real-world evidence that this simplification results in stable thresholds and improves out-of-sample performance. Our solution is not restricted to binary-choice models, but directly transferable to the signaling approach and all probabilistic early-warning models.

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Drawing Conclusions from Structural Vector Autoregressions Identified on the Basis of Sign Restrictions

Christiane Baumeister James D. Hamilton

in: Journal of International Money and Finance, December 2020


This paper discusses the problems associated with using information about the signs of certain magnitudes as a basis for drawing structural conclusions in vector autoregressions. We also review available tools to solve these problems. For illustration we use Dahlhaus and Vasishtha’s (2019) study of the effects of a U.S. monetary contraction on capital flows to emerging markets. We explain why sign restrictions alone are not enough to allow us to answer the question and suggest alternative approaches that could be used.

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Trade Effects of Silver Price Fluctuations in 19th-Century China: A Macro Approach

Makram El-Shagi Lin Zhang

in: China Economic Journal, 2020


We assess the role of silver price fluctuations in Chinese trade and GDP during the late Qing dynasty, when China still had a bimetallic (silver/copper) monetary system, in which silver was mostly used for international trade. Using a structural VAR (SVAR) with blockwise recursive identification, we identify the impact of silver price shocks on the Chinese economy from 1867, when trade data became available, to 1910, one year before the Qing dynasty collapsed. We find that silver price shocks had a sizable impact on both imports and exports but only a very minor effect on the trade balance, only a marginal impact on growth, and almost no effect on domestic prices. Stronger effects were partly mitigated by inelastic export quantities. Generally, the effect of silver price shocks, while considerable, was only short-lived, displaying no persistence in either direction. We find that the bimetallic system in Qing China might have mitigated a potential positive effect of silver depreciation but did not reverse the effect, which – contrary to claims made in the previous literature – was responsible for neither the worsening trade balance nor the inflation and the quickly increasing imports that occurred during our sample period.

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