Inflation Dynamics During the Financial Crisis in Europe: Cross-sectional Identification of Long-run Inflation Expectations
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2017
We investigate drivers of Euro area inflation dynamics using a panel of regional Phillips curves and identify long-run inflation expectations by exploiting the crosssectional dimension of the data. Our approach simultaneously allows for the inclusion of country-specific inflation and unemployment-gaps, as well as time-varying parameters. Our preferred panel specification outperforms various aggregate, uni- and multivariate unobserved component models in terms of forecast accuracy. We find that declining long-run trend inflation expectations and rising inflation persistence indicate an altered risk of inflation expectations de-anchoring. Lower trend inflation, and persistently negative unemployment-gaps, a slightly increasing Phillips curve slope and the downward pressure of low oil prices mainly explain the low inflation rate during the recent years.
Why They Keep Missing: An Empirical Investigation of Rational Inattention of Rating Agencies
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2017
Sovereign ratings have frequently failed to predict crises. However, the literature has focused on explaining rating levels rather than the timing of rating announcements. We fill this gap by explicitly differentiating between a decision to assess a country and the actual rating decision. Thereby, we account for rational inattention of rating agencies that exists due to costs of reassessment. Exploiting information of rating announcements, we show that (i) the proposed differentiation significantly improves estimation; (ii) rating agencies consider many nonfundamental factors in their reassessment decision; (iii) markets only react to ratings providing new information; (iv) developed countries get preferential treatment.
Much Ado About Nothing: Sovereign Ratings and Government Bond Yields in the OECD
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 22, 2016
In this paper, we propose a new method to assess the impact of sovereign ratings on sovereign bond yields. We estimate the impulse response of the interest rate, following a change in the rating. Since ratings are ordinal and moreover extremely persistent, it proves difficult to estimate those impulse response functions using a VAR modeling ratings, yields and other macroeconomic indicators. However, given the highly stochastic nature of the precise timing of ratings, we can treat most rating adjustments as shocks. We thus no longer rely on a VAR for shock identification, making the estimation of the corresponding IRFs well suited for so called local projections – that is estimating impulse response functions through a series of separate direct forecasts over different horizons. Yet, the rare occurrence of ratings makes impulse response functions estimated through that procedure highly sensitive to individual observations, resulting in implausibly volatile impulse responses. We propose an augmentation to restrict jointly estimated local projections in a way that produces economically plausible impulse response functions.
Exit Expectations and Debt Crises in Currency Unions
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 18, 2015
Membership in a currency union is not irreversible. Exit expectations may emerge during sovereign debt crises, because exit allows countries to reduce their liabilities through a currency redenomination. As market participants anticipate this possibility, sovereign debt crises intensify. We establish this formally within a small open economy model of changing policy regimes. The model permits explosive dynamics of debt and sovereign yields inside currency unions and allows us to distinguish between exit expectations and those of an outright default. By estimating the model on Greek data, we quantify the contribution of exit expectations to the crisis dynamics during 2009 to 2012.
Flight Patterns and Yields of European Government Bonds
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2013
The current European Debt Crisis has led to a reinforced effort to identify the sources of risk and their influence on yields of European Government Bonds. Until now, the potentially nonlinear influence and the theoretical need for interactions reflecting flight-to-quality and flight-to-liquidity has been widely disregarded. I estimate government bond yields of the Euro-12 countries without Luxembourg from May 2003 until December 2011. Using penalized spline regression, I find that the effect of most explanatory variables is highly nonlinear. These nonlinearities, together with flight patterns of flight-to-quality and flight-to-liquidity, can explain the co-movement of bond yields until September 2008 and the huge amount of differentiation during the financial and the European debt crisis without the unnecessary assumption of a structural break. The main effects are credit risk and flight-to-liquidity, while the evidence for the existence of flight-to-quality and liquidity risk (the latter measured by the bid-ask spread and total turnover of bonds) is comparably weak.