Expertise in the Political Process — Benefits, Limits and Risks
Since the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis, confidence in politicians as well as the economists in their advisory expert panels seems to be at an all-time low. Why do politicians reject science-based advice unless it fits into their political agenda? Are economists misunderstood by politicians and vice versa? The tension between the ideal of evidence-based policy-making and the reality of policy-based evidence-making is hardly a new phenomenon. Therefore, the expectation that Donald Trump, the Brexiteers and European populists will necessarily disappoint their voters because they simply cannot deliver what they have promised is misleading. Experts would be well advised to use the debate on the post-factual era as an impetus to reflect critically on their profession. One opinion expressed in this Zeitgespräch is that the contested societal and political impact of modern economics is due to its restricted scientific self-concept. A more open, pluralistic and transdisciplinary self-definition of economics would strengthen its societal influence. Another contributor ponders the proper incentives to persuade academic economists to provide economic policy advice. Key is the independence of advisory institutions like the German Council of Economic Experts. The selection of people with the best scientific qualifications will ensure the reputation of such institutions.
24.04.2017 • 22/2017
Higher capital requirements: It’s the firms that end up suffering
61 European banks were scheduled to increase their capital cover by 2012 to provide a sufficient buffer for future crises. As the study by the research group chaired by Reint E. Gropp at the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association shows, the banks did implement these requirements – not by raising their levels of equity, but by reducing their credit supply. This resulted in lower firm, investment, and sales growth for firms which obtained a larger share of their bank credit from these banks.
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09.03.2017 • 12/2017
Comment: Keep cool and be prepared – IWH president Gropp on the ECB’s interest rates decision
”The European Central Bank (ECB) decided to keep interest rates unchanged today. No surprise here. But Mario Draghi unfortunately did not provide a signal to markets that the ECB may be moving on interest rates in the foreseeable future. “This is a reasonable decision, but also a missed opportunity”, Reint E. Gropp, president of the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association, says. “An ECB increase interest rate move must be well prepared, and today’s press conference would have been an opportunity to prepare markets for the fact that interest rates cannot stay where they are forever.”
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04.01.2017 • 2/2017
Worse ratings by U.S. rating agencies for European sovereigns no argument for European rating agency
A new study by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association shows that the major U.S. rating agencies rated European sovereigns significantly worse than Fitch, which is more “Europe oriented”. Although the findings in part support the claim of some European politicians during the recent debt crisis that there was an “anti-Europe” bias of the U.S. agencies, the study shows that a new European agency would not address this problem. The reason: Market participants would not listen to the new agency.
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State Aid and Guarantees in Europe
T. Beck, B. Casu (eds): The Palgrave Handbook of European Banking, London,
During the recent financial crisis, governments massively intervened in the banking sector by providing liquidity assistance and capital support to banks in distress. This helped stabilize the financial system in the short run. However, public bailouts also bear the risk of longer-term distortions, for example, by affecting bailout expectations of banks. In this chapter, the authors first provide an overview of state aid interventions during the recent crisis episode. The third section then analyzes the effects of state aid on financial stability from a theoretical view. This is followed by the description of results obtained from empirical studies. The link between the provision of state aid and politics is discussed in the section “Institutional Design and Policy Implications”. Finally, in the section “The European Banking Union” the authors describe the elements of the European Banking Union meant to resolve and restructure banks in distress and to lower the need for public intervention. Based on the preceding analysis, conclusions are drawn regarding the new design.
Mortgage Supply and the US Housing Boom: The Role of the Community Reinvestment Act
IWH Discussion Papers,
This paper studies the role of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in the recent US housing boom-bust cycle. Using a difference-in-differences matching estimation, I find that the enhancement of CRA enforcement in 1998 caused a 7.7 percentage points increase in annual growth rate of mortgage lending by CRA-regulated banks to CRA-eligible census tracts relative to a group of similar-income CRA-ineligible census tracts within the same state. Financial institutions which are not subject to the CRA, however, do not show any change in their mortgage supply between these two types of census tracts after 1998. I take advantage of this exogenous shift in mortgage supply within an instrumental variable framework to identify the causal effect of mortgage supply on housing prices. I find that every 1 percentage point higher annual growth rate of mortgage supply leads to 0.3 percentage points higher annual growth rate of housing prices. Reduced form regressions show that CRA-eligible neighborhoods experienced higher house price growth during the boom and sharper decline during the bust period. I use placebo tests to confirm that this effect is in fact channeled through the shift in mortgage supply by CRA-regulated banks and not by unobserved demand factors. Furthermore, my results indicate that CRA-induced mortgages went to borrowers with lower FICO scores, carried higher interest rates, and encountered more frequent delinquencies.
Taxing Banks: An Evaluation of the German Bank Levy
Journal of Banking & Finance,
Bank distress can have severe negative consequences for the stability of the financial system. Regimes for the restructuring and resolution of banks, financed by bank levies, aim at reducing these costs. This paper evaluates the German bank levy, which has been implemented since 2011. Our analysis offers three main insights. First, revenues raised through the levy were lower than expected. Second, the bulk of the payments were contributed by large commercial banks and by the central institutions of savings banks and credit unions. Third, for those banks, which were affected by the levy, we find evidence for a reduction in lending and higher deposit rates.
18.10.2016 • 46/2016
No Sign of Price Distortions – Lack of Evidence for Effects of US Bank Bailouts
There has been much political and public controversy surrounding the very large rescue packages offered to the banking sector in the course of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009. The aim of the packages was to stabilise the financial sector and, therefore, the development of the real economy. The downsides of these bailouts were the enormous financial cost to the taxpayer, increased assumption of risk by the government and possible distortive effects on competition in the banking market – since not all banks were given financial support. Researchers at the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) – Member of the Leibniz Association led by Professor Felix Noth have now studied the long-term, indirect and possible market-distorting effects of the US rescue packages.
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29.09.2016 • 40/2016
Joint Economic Forecast: German Economy on Track – Economic Policy needs to be Realigned
Thanks to a stable job market and solid consumption, the German economy is experiencing a moderate upswing. The GDP is expected to increase by 1.9 percent this year, 1.4 percent in 2017, and 1.6 percent in 2018, according to the Gemeinschaftsdiagnose (GD, joint economic forecast) that was prepared by five of Europe’s leading economic research institutes on behalf of the Federal Government. The most recent GD, which was released in April, predicted a GDP growth rate of 1.6 percent for 2016 and 1.5 percent for 2017.
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