Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Financial Innovation and Risk Management

An overview of Shiller and his ideas about the way that financial innovation can be extended into fields that will help to manage and control risk.  Financial Innovation and Risk Management — Money, Banking and Financial Markets:

"Another example regards mechanisms to manage exposure to systematic income fluctuations at the aggregate level: Kamstra and Shiller have proposed that governments issue “trills” – a perpetual security with an annual coupon that pays one-trillionth of nominal GDP. For example, in the United States, that coupon would have been set at $17.60 as of the third quarter of 2014. In theory, when income growth is strong, government can afford higher coupon payments, while lower coupons would cushion the fiscal balance when the economy falters. At the same time, owning a trill would allow pension managers both to protect their clients against inflation and to benefit from the economy’s long-term growth – including the gains in both wages and profits. And, if many governments were to issue trills – with coupons related to their national GDP – savers could easily form a globally diversified investment portfolio, providing a cheap hedge against the idiosyncratic income risks of their domestic economy. So far, however, no government has issued a trill."

Useful for the ways that it can focus the discussion of the role of the financial system.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Statisticians in World War II: They also served | The Economist

Statisticians in World War II: They also served | The Economist: "“Peace finally returned, and the statistical scene in the United Kingdom had been completely transformed,” wrote Barnard and Plackett. “No other method would have produced these changes in only six years.” Dozens of clever young people had been taught a fast-changing new subject—and in many cases done original research. Even routine work was elevated by the urgency and camaraderie of the war effort—and even the fact that they were new to the field. “A lot of the work was statistically boring,” Sir David says now. “But the point is that I didn’t really know anything.”"

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Piketty’s (unintended) advice for investors | Gavyn Davies

Piketty’s (unintended) advice for investors | Gavyn Davies: "Finally, though, let us circle back to the real rate of return on capital. Can it really stay indefinitely about 4 per cent, as Prof Piketty suggests, at a time when central banks are setting interest rates at zero, and when the growth rate, g, is slowing down? Boiled right down, he himself says that this is his central claim. But in modern textbook economic models, while the rate of return on capital can remain higher than g in the long term, it is likely to decline when g declines."

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Make policy for real, not ideal, humans - FT.com

Make policy for real, not ideal, humans - FT.com: "
ut of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made. This famous remark of the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, is particularly relevant to economists. “Homo economicus” is far-sighted, rational and self-interested. Real human beings are none of these things. We are bundles of emotions, not calculating machines. This matters."

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Monday, December 15, 2014

My reading of the FT on China’s “turning away from the dollar” | Michael Pettis' CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS

Michael Pettis' CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS:  Michael, assesses the gloom and doom about changes in Chinese international capital flows.

"The authors provide the views of several analysts concerning the impact on the US bond markets and US economy more generally of reduced PBoC purchases of US government bonds, and these views range from neutral to very negative. I would argue however that in fact these views fail to understand the systemic nature of the balance of payments, in which any country’s internal imbalances must necessarily be consistent with its external imbalances. They assume implicitly assume that PBoC purchases only affect the demand for US government bonds, whereas in fact the flow of capital from one country to another must automatically affect both demand and supply. In fact the impact of reduced PBoC purchases of US government bonds is likely to be net positive, and while this view is probably counterintuitive, and certainly controversial, in another part of the article the authors cite a Chinese official whose statement, had they explored the implications fully, would have explained why."

Chinese current account surplus means a capital outflow.  As Michael indicates, the evidence from other major periods of capital flows:  US in the 1920s and 1950s, OPEC in 1970s, Japan in the 1980s, to which could be added UK in 1880s; suggests that it is not all beneficial to the exporter of capital.  Investment is difficult, mistakes are made. There are no many suppliers of safe, liquid assets.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

At last the con has been taken out of econometrics

Tim Harford — Article — At last the con has been taken out of econometrics: "In 1983, Edward Leamer published an article with contents that would become almost as celebrated as its title. “Let’s Take the Con Out of Econometrics” began with an analogy that remains useful. Imagine an agricultural researcher who tests the effectiveness of a new fertiliser by dividing land into strips and spreading the new fertiliser only on a randomly chosen selection of those strips. Because of the randomisation, any effect will presumably be thanks to the fertiliser."

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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

U.S. Investment in Global Bonds: As the Fed Pushes, Some EMEs Pull

U.S. Investment in Global Bonds: As the Fed Pushes, Some EMEs Pull:  An analysis of the flow into EM bond markets.

"We analyze reallocations within the international bond portfolios of US investors. The most striking empirical observation is a steady increase in US investors' allocations toward emerging market local currency bonds, unabated by the global financial crisis and accelerating in the post-crisis period. Part of the increase in EME allocations is associated with global "push" factors such as low US long-term interest rates and unconventional monetary policy as well as subdued risk aversion/expected volatility. But also evident is investor differentiation among EMEs, with the largest reallocations going to those EMEs with strong macroeconomic fundamentals such as more positive current account balances, less volatile inflation, and stronger economic growth. We also provide a descriptive analysis of global bond markets' structure and returns."