Fiscal Policy under the Eyes of Wary Bondholders
IWH Discussion Papers,
This paper studies the interaction between fiscal policy and bondholders against the backdrop of high sovereign debt levels. For our analysis, we investigate the case of Italy, a country that has dealt with high public debt levels for a long time, using a Bayesian structural VAR model. We extend a canonical three variable macro mode to include a bond market, consisting of a fiscal rule and a bond demand schedule for long-term government bonds. To identify the model in the presence of political uncertainty and forward-looking investors, we derive an external instrument for bond demand shocks from a novel news ticker data set. Our main results are threefold. First, the interaction between fiscal policy and bondholders’ expectations is critical for the evolution of prices. Fiscal policy reinforces contractionary monetary policy through sustained increases in primary surpluses and investors provide incentives for “passive” fiscal policy. Second, investors’ expectations matter for inflation, and we document a Fisherian response of inflation across all maturities in response to a bond demand shock. Third, domestic politics is critical in the determination of bondholders’ expectations and an increase in the perceived riskiness of sovereign debt increases inflation and thus complicates the task of controlling price growth.
14.12.2023 • 30/2023
Exports and private consumption weak ‒ Germany is waiting for an economic upturn
In the winter of 2023/2024, the German economy is still in a downturn. Parts of industry have lost competitiveness, real incomes have fallen in 2023 due to inflation, and there is uncertainty about the course of fiscal policy. However, rising real incomes and a slight increase in exports should cause a pickup from spring onwards. The Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) expects gross domestic product (GDP) to fall by 0.3% in 2023 and to expand by 0.5% in 2024 (East Germany: +0.5% and +0.7%). In September, the IWH forecast had assumed a decline of 0.5% for Germany in 2023 and expected growth of 0.9% for the coming year.
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SSRN Discussion Paper,
This paper documents the rise of "poison bonds", which are corporate bonds that allow bondholders to demand immediate repayment in a change-of-control event. The share of poison bonds among new issues has grown substantially in recent years, from below 20% in the 90s to over 60% after 2005. This increase is predominantly driven by investment-grade issues. We provide causal evidence that the pressure to eliminate poison pills has led firms to issue poison bonds as an alternative. Further analyses suggest that this practice entrenches incumbent managers, coincidentally benefits bondholders, but destroys shareholder value. Holding a portfolio of firms that remove poison pills but promptly issue poison bonds results in negative abnormal returns of -7.3% per year. Our findings have important implications for understanding the agency benefits and costs of debt: (1) more debt does not necessarily discipline the management; and (2) even without financial distress, managerial entrenchment can lead to conflicts between shareholders and creditors.
05.04.2023 • 8/2023
Stubborn Core Inflation – Time for Supply Side Policies
The leading economic research institutes have raised their forecast for growth in German economic output in the current year to 0.3%. In the fall, they were still expecting a decline of 0.4%. “The economic setback in the winter half-year 2022/2023 is likely to have been less severe than feared in the fall. The main reason for this is a smaller loss of purchasing power as a result of a significant drop in energy prices,” says Timo Wollmershäuser, Head of Forecasts at ifo. Nevertheless, the rate of inflation will fall only slowly from 6.9% last year to 6.0% this year.
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02.02.2023 • 2/2023
Economic growth, public finances and greenhouse gas emissions in the medium term
According to the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) and its medium-term projection of the German economy, growth in the next six years will be about the same as in the past six years, at 1% per year. The national budget will remain in deficit, but the debt level will decline again relative to the gross domestic product (GDP) from 2024 onwards. At this rate of economic expansion, greenhouse gas emissions will continue to decline in the medium term, but at a much slower rate than necessary to meet the national emission reduction targets.
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