Volatility, Growth and Financial Crises

This research group analyses the build-up of financial vulnerabilities and real consequences of financial crises. Different policy shocks and the causal reaction of macroeconomic aggregates are identified. Early-warning models describe the cyclical nature of financial vulnerabilities.

IWH Data Project: Financial Stability Indicators in Europe

Research Cluster
Financial Stability and Regulation

Your contact

Professor Dr Gregor von Schweinitz
Professor Dr Gregor von Schweinitz
Mitglied - Department Macroeconomics
Send Message +49 345 7753-744 Personal page


01.2018 ‐ 12.2018

International Monetary Policy Transmission

Deutsche Bundesbank

Professor Dr Gregor von Schweinitz

01.2017 ‐ 12.2018

Early-warning Models for Systemic Banking Crises

German Research Foundation (DFG)

Professor Dr Gregor von Schweinitz

Refereed Publications


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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Working Papers


On the International Dissemination of Technology News Shocks

João Carlos Claudio Gregor von Schweinitz

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 25, 2020


This paper investigates the propagation of technology news shocks within and across industrialised economies. We construct quarterly utilisation-adjusted total factor productivity (TFP) for thirteen OECD countries. Based on country-specific structural vector autoregressions (VARs), we document that (i) the identified technology news shocks induce a quite homogeneous response pattern of key macroeconomic variables in each country; and (ii) the identified technology news shock processes display a significant degree of correlation across several countries. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that the US are only one of many different sources of technological innovations diffusing across advanced economies. Technology news propagate through the endogenous reaction of monetary policy and via trade-related variables. That is, our results imply that financial markets and trade are key channels for the dissemination of technology.

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An Evaluation of Early Warning Models for Systemic Banking Crises: Does Machine Learning Improve Predictions?

Johannes Beutel Sophia List Gregor von Schweinitz

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 2, 2019


This paper compares the out-of-sample predictive performance of different early warning models for systemic banking crises using a sample of advanced economies covering the past 45 years. We compare a benchmark logit approach to several machine learning approaches recently proposed in the literature. We find that while machine learning methods often attain a very high in-sample fit, they are outperformed by the logit approach in recursive out-of-sample evaluations. This result is robust to the choice of performance measure, crisis definition, preference parameter, and sample length, as well as to using different sets of variables and data transformations. Thus, our paper suggests that further enhancements to machine learning early warning models are needed before they are able to offer a substantial value-added for predicting systemic banking crises. Conventional logit models appear to use the available information already fairly effciently, and would for instance have been able to predict the 2007/2008 financial crisis out-of-sample for many countries. In line with economic intuition, these models identify credit expansions, asset price booms and external imbalances as key predictors of systemic banking crises.

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Did the Swiss Exchange Rate Shock Shock the Market?

Manuel Buchholz Gregor von Schweinitz Lena Tonzer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 9, 2018


The Swiss National Bank abolished the exchange rate floor versus the Euro in January 2015. Based on a synthetic matching framework, we analyse the impact of this unexpected (and therefore exogenous) shock on the stock market. The results reveal a significant level shift (decline) in asset prices in Switzerland following the discontinuation of the minimum exchange rate. While adjustments in stock market returns were most pronounced directly after the news announcement, the variance was elevated for some weeks, indicating signs of increased uncertainty and potentially negative consequences for the real economy.

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Sovereign Stress, Banking Stress, and the Monetary Transmission Mechanism in the Euro Area

Oliver Holtemöller Jan-Christopher Scherer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 3, 2018


In this paper, we investigate to what extent sovereign stress and banking stress have contributed to the increase in the level and in the heterogeneity of non-financial firms’ financing costs in the Euro area during the European debt crisis and how both have affected the monetary transmission mechanism. Employing a large firm-level data set containing two million observations, we are able to identify the effect of government bond yield spreads (sovereign stress) and the share of non-performing loans (banking stress) on firms‘ financing costs in a panel model by assuming that idiosyncratic shocks to individual firms are uncorrelated with country-specific variables. We find that the two sources of stress have increased firms’ financing costs controlling for country and firm-specific factors. Moreover, we estimate both to have significantly impaired the monetary transmission mechanism.

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

Martina Kämpfe Tobias Knedlik

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2017


The experience of Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) during the global financial crisis and in the resulting European debt crises has been largely different from that of other European countries. This paper looks at the specifics of the CEEC in recent history and focuses in particular on the appropriateness of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure for this group of countries. In doing so, the macroeconomic situation in the CEEC is highlighted and macroeconomic problems faced by these countries are extracted. The findings are compared to the results of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure of the European Commission. It is shown that while the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure correctly identifies some of the problems, it understates or overstates other problems. This is due to the specific construction of the broadened surveillance procedure, which largely disregarded the specifics of catching-up economies.

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