Research articles for the 2020-02-28

Cyber Risk Surveillance: A Case Study of Singapore
Goh, Joseph,Kang, Heedon,Koh, Zhi Xing,Way Lim, Jin,Wei Ng, Cheng,Sher, Galen,Yao, Chris
Cyber risk is an emerging source of systemic risk in the financial sector, and possibly a macro-critical risk too. It is therefore important to integrate it into financial sector surveillance. This paper offers a range of analytical approaches to assess and monitor cyber risk to the financial sector, including various approaches to stress testing. The paper illustrates these techniques by applying them to Singapore. As an advanced economy with a complex financial system and rapid adoption of fintech, Singapore serves as a good case study. We place our results in the context of recent cybersecurity developments in the public and private sectors, which can be a reference for surveillance work.

Cyber-Attacks and Cryptocurrencies
Caporale, Guglielmo Maria,Kang, Woo-Young,Spagnolo, Fabio,Spagnolo, Nicola
This paper provides some comprehensive evidence on the effects of cyber-attacks on the returns, realized volatility and trading volume of five of the main cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, XRP and Stellar) in 99 developed and developing countries. More specifically, it investigates the effects of four different types of cyber-attacks (cyber-crime, cyber-espionage, hacktivism and cyber-warfare) on four target sectors (government, industry, finance and cryptocurrency exchange). We find that in the US cyber security firms tend to overreact to cyberattacks affecting cryptocurrencies and more wealth is spent on cyber security compared to other countries. Both hacktivism and cyber-warfare have a significant impact on cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency exchanges are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks in non-US countries and in the presence of high economic uncertainty and less so if the industry sector is already being targeted. Finally, cryptocurrency investors exhibit risk-loving behaviour when the hash rate and cryptocurrency returns increase and risk-averse one when cyber-attacks target the financial and industry sectors and economic uncertainty is high.

Does Foia Foil the Sec's Intent to Keep Investigations Confidential?
Coleman, Braiden,Merkley, Kenneth J.,Miller, Brian P.,Pacelli, Joseph
The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has a long-standing policy to keep formal investigations confidential. In this study, we examine the extent to which compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides investors with information about on-going SEC investigations. We exploit a unique empirical setting whereby the SEC denies FOIA requests due to ongoing enforcement proceedings (hereafter, exemption denials). We find that exemption denials predict a substantial number of ongoing and future SEC investigations. Exemption denials are also associated with significant negative future abnormal returns, which is consistent with exemption denials providing a noisy public signal that allows certain sophisticated investors to earn future abnormal returns. Overall, our findings suggest that information transparency laws, such as FOIA, have the potential to limit the SEC’s ability to maintain effective and confidential investigations.

Guyana: Housing Market and Implications for Macroprudential Policies
Chow, Julian T.S.
Guyana's residential real estate prices have been rising, particularly in the capital city Georgetown, following the discovery of oil in 2015. In line with the growing demand for housing, commercial banks' housing loans have increased, prompting higher household debt. This paper presents two analyses which suggest that housing prices in Georgetown and banks' lending to the housing sector appear to be in their early stages of growth. However, given the data limitations and caveats that underpin the analyses, the findings could also indicate early signals of possible risks. Further data collection would support surveillance and deeper studies. At the same time, enhancing prudential measures would help safeguard financial and macroeconomic stability. These include strengthening the monitoring of the housing market, bank lending practices and household debt, as well as fortifying the macroprudential framework, including with more effective toolkits for early intervention.

Hedging, Investment Efficiency, and the Role of the Information Environment
Lobo, Gerald J.,Ranasinghe, Tharindra,Yi, Lin
Extant theories suggest that managers may use hedging either to alleviate underinvestment problems caused by costly external financing or to promote overinvestment by circumventing the scrutiny of external capital markets. We empirically investigate this issue using a hand-collected dataset of hedging and investment behavior of oil and gas exploration and production firms. We do not find evidence that hedging alleviates underinvestment problems. However, we do find a strong positive relation between the extent of hedging and the propensity to overinvest. Further analyses indicate that the relation between hedging and overinvesting is stronger in settings where the firms’ information environment is more transparent. A more transparent information environment makes it easier for outside capital providers to distinguish between value enhancing and value destroying investment decisions, so that greater discretion over internally generated funds becomes more valuable to overinvesting managers. Our study highlights the role of hedging in facilitating overinvestment and the conditions under which this role is likely to be more salient.

How Director Remuneration Impacts Firm Performance: An Empirical Analysis of Executive Director Remuneration in Pakistan
Aslam, Ejaz,Haron, Razali,Tahir, Muhammad Naveed
This study empirically investigates the interrelationship between pay and performance of CEOs/board of directors in an emerging market, Pakistan. The study uses GMM approach to account for the problem of potential endogeneity and unobserved heterogeneity that arises due to the potential reverse causality (pay and performance) for a sample of non-financial firms listed in the KSE over the period of 2009e2016. This study provides evidence that the pay-performance framework supports the agency theory whereby CEOs/board of directors are compensated for their prior level of market-based performance. In addition, it weakly supports the notion of the steward/tournament theory. Thus, CEOs/board director's remuneration is highly persistent and takes time to adjust to long-run equilibrium.

How Do Member Countries Receive IMF Policy Advice: Results from a State-of-The-Art Sentiment Index
Fayad, Ghada,Huang, Chengyu,Shibuya, Yoko,Zhao, Peng
This paper applies state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to develop the first sentiment index measuring member countries' reception of IMF policy advice at the time of Article IV Consultations. This paper finds that while authorities of member countries largely agree with Fund advice, there is variation across country size, external openness, policy sectors and their assessed riskiness, political systems, and commodity export intensity. The paper also looks at how sentiment changes during and after a financial arrangement or program with the Fund, as well as when a country receives IMF technical assistance. The results shed light on key aspects on Fund surveillance while redefining how the IMF can view its relevance, value added, and traction with its member countries.

How Should Credit Gaps Be Measured? An Application to European Countries
Baba, Chikako,Dell'Erba, Salvatore,Detragiache, Enrica,Harrison, Olamide,Mineshima, Aiko,Musayev, Anvar,Shahmoradi, Asghar
Assessing when credit is excessive is important to understand macro-financial vulnerabilities and guide macroprudential policy. The Basel Credit Gap (BCG) - the deviation of the credit-to-GDP ratio from its long-term trend estimated with a one-sided Hodrick-Prescott (HP) filter-is the indicator preferred by the Basel Committee because of its good performance as an early warning of banking crises. However, for a number of European countries this indicator implausibly suggests that credit should go back to its level at the peak of the boom after the credit cycle turns, resulting in large negative gaps that might delay the activation of macroprudential policies. We explore two different approaches-a multivariate filter based on economic theory and a fundamentals-based panel regression. Each approach has pros and cons, but they both provide a useful complement to the BCG in assessing macro-financial vulnerabilities in Europe.

Internal Control Weaknesses and the Demand for Financial Skills: Evidence from U.S. Job Postings
Gao, Janet,Merkley, Kenneth J.,Pacelli, Joseph,Schroeder, Joseph H.
Ineffective internal controls over financial reporting often relates to a lack of qualified personnel with sufficient accounting and technical expertise. In this study, we examine whether firms respond to internal control failures by increasing their demand for specific accounting and finance skills. Using unique data containing an extensive collection of job postings, we document significant increases in firms’ demand for employees with financial skills following the disclosure of an internal control weakness. This demand effect is more pronounced among jobs requiring accounting skills or accounting software knowledge, but also extends to non-accounting personnel that interface with accounting functions, suggesting an important role for all firm personnel in remediating internal control failures. We also find that increased financial skill demand is associated with a higher likelihood of internal control remediation, especially for firms with restatements. We also provide additional evidence consistent with increased financial skill demand relating to the disclosure of a material weaknesses rather than a proactive firm response to internal control issues. Overall, our findings shed new light on how firms internally respond to ineffective internal controls by increasing their demand for financial skills in their workforce.

Is the Whole Greater than the Sum of its Parts? Strengthening Caribbean Regional Integration
Al-Hassan, Abdullah,Burfisher, Mary,Chow, Julian T.S.,Ding, Ding,Di Vittorio, Fabio,Kovtun, Dmitriy,McIntyre, Arnold,Otker-Robe, Inci,Santoro, Marika,Shui, Lulu,Youssef, Karim
Deeper economic integration within the Caribbean has been a regional policy priority since the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the decision to create the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). Implementation of integration initiatives has, however, been slow, despite the stated commitment of political leaders. The 'implementation deficit' has led to skepticism about completing the CSME and controversy regarding its benefits. This paper analyzes how Caribbean integration has evolved, discusses the obstacles to progress, and explores the potential benefits from greater integration. It argues that further economic integration through liberalization of trade and labor mobility can generate significant macroeconomic benefits, but slow progress in completing the institutional arrangements has hindered implementation of the essential components of the CSME and progress in economic integration. Advancing institutional integration through harmonization and rationalization of key institutions and processes can reduce the fixed costs of institutions, providing the needed scale and boost to regional integration. Greater cooperation in several functional policy areas where the region is facing common challenges can also provide low-hanging fruit, creating momentum toward full integration as the Community continues to address the obstacles to full economic integration.

Legal History, Institutions and Banking System Development in Africa
Mutarindwa, Samuel,Schaefer, Dorothea,Stephan, Andreas
This paper links banking systems development to the colonial and legal history of African countries. Specifically, we investigate the impact of differing legal traditions on the development of existing investor and creditor protection, and on African banking systems. Based on a sample of 40 African countries from 2000 to 2016, our empirical findings show a significant dependence of current financial institutions on the legal origin and the colonization type. Findings also reveal that current legal financial institutions are not the major determinants of banking system development, whereas institutional and regulatory quality significantly matter for banking system development in both common and civil law countries. Strong creditor rights reduce the cost of banking in African countries.

Leverage Dynamics Under Segmented Equity and Debt Markets
Jung, Hae Won (Henny),Yu, Jin,Zeng, Qi
We study a continuous-time dynamic capital structure model in which a firm can continuously adjust its capital structure. Unlike previous models, we assume heterogeneous equity and debt holders and segmented equity and debt markets. We show that the expected future equity and debt market returns, but not realized market returns, affect the firm's debt issuance policy and speed of leverage adjustment. The effect is stronger for firms with larger asset beta. We empirically test and confirm our model predictions.

Monetary Policy Implementation: Operational Issues for Countries with Evolving Monetary Policy Frameworks
Maehle, Nils O.
This paper discusses operational issues for countries that want to reform their monetary policy frameworks. It argues that stabilizing short-term interest rates on a day-to-day basis has significant advantages, and thus that short-term interest rates, not reserve money, in most cases should be the daily operating target, including for countries relying on a money targeting policy strategy. The paper discusses how a policy formulation framework based on monetary aggregates can be combined with an operational framework that ensures more stable and predictable short-term rates to enhance policy transmission. It also discusses how to best configure an interest-rate-based operational framework when markets are underdeveloped and liqudity management capacity is weak.

Multiple Buffer CoCos and Their Impact on Financial Stability
Neamtu, Ioana
In this paper we develop a theoretical model to investigate the effect on a bank's financial stability of having multiple contingent convertible bonds buffers (CoCos) on the same bank balance sheet, using cash-in-the-market pricing and global games methodologies. Contingent convertible bonds are meant to act as a bail-in mechanism for banks, where CoCo debt converts into equity when a bank needs it the most. We find that having CoCo buffers which trigger at different capitalisation levels can be detrimental for the CoCo bail-in capacity. Market-based triggers lead to premature conversion and fire-sales of equity. In contrast with existing literature, we show that book-based trigger CoCos yield an optimal outcome, as long as they incorporate expected credit losses.

Natural Disaster Insurance for Sovereigns: Issues, Challenges and Optimality
Cebotari, Aliona,Youssef, Karim
Natural disasters are a source of economic risks in many countries, especially in smaller and lower-income states, and ex-ante preparedness is needed to manage the risks. The paper discusses sovereign experience with disaster insurance as a key instrument to mitigate the risks; proposes ways to judge the adequacy of insurance; and considers ways to enhance its use by vulnerable countries. The paper especially aims to inform policy decisions on disaster insurance. Through simulations of natural disasters and various insurance options, we find that sovereign decisions on optimal risk transfer involve balancing trade-offs between growth and debt, based on government risk preferences and country risk exposure. The choice of optimal insurance for smaller countries turns out to be more constrained by cost considerations due to their higher exposure, likely resulting in underinsurance; donor grants could help them achieve a more optimal protection. We also find that optimal insurance packages are those that are least costly relative to expected payouts (i.e. have the lowest insurance multiple), which are also the packages that insure less severe (more frequent) disasters.

One Shock, Many Policy Responses
Mano, Rui,Sgherri, Silvia
Policymakers have relied on a wide range of policy tools to cope with capital flow shocks. And yet, the effects and interaction of these policies remain under debate, as does the motivation for using them. In this paper, quantile local projections are used to estimate the entire distribution of future policy responses to portfolio flow shocks for 20 emerging markets and understand the variety of policy choices across the sample. To assuage endogeneity concerns, estimates rely on the fact that global capital flows are exogenous from the viewpoint of any one of these countries. The paper finds that: (i) policy responses to capital flow shocks are heterogeneous across countries, fat-tailed-'extreme' responses tend to be more elastic than 'typical' responses-and asymmetric-'extreme' responses tend to be more elastic with respect to outflows than to inflows; (ii) country characteristics are linked to policy choices-with cross-country differences in forex intervention relating to the size of balance sheet vulnerabilities and the depth of the forex market; (iii) the use of targeted macroprudential policy and capital flows management measures can help 'free the hands' of monetary policy by allowing it to focus more squarely on domestic cyclical developments.

Perceived Precautionary Savings Motives: Evidence from Fintech
D'Acunto, Francesco,Rauter, Thomas,Scheuch, Christoph,Weber, Michael
We study the spending response of first-time borrowers to an overdraft facility and elicit their preferences, beliefs, and motives through a FinTech application. Users increase their spending permanently, lower their savings rate, and reallocate spending from non-discretionary to discretionary goods. Interestingly, liquid users react more than others but do not tap into negative deposits. The credit line acts as a form of insurance. These results are not fully consistent with models of financial constraints, buffer stock models, or present-bias preferences. We label this channel perceived precautionary savings motives: Liquid users behave as if they faced strong precautionary savings motives even though no observables, including elicited preferences and beliefs, suggest they should.

Policy Uncertainty in the Scandinavian Countries
Kleiven, Lars Erik,Ifwarsson, Emil Johan Verlo
Globalization drives the need to properly understand policy uncertainty and how it affects both the economy in general and business conditions. To systematically investigate the effect of policy uncertainty on small, open economies, we develop a policy uncertainty index based on newspaper content for each of the three Scandinavian countries; Norway, Denmark and Sweden. We show how these indices capture important historical events, both local events such as referendums and certain general elections, but also global events such as financial crises. Our narrative validation provides evidence that the three indices are good measures of policy uncertainty. Further, we compare historical policy uncertainty in the Scandinavian countries to a similar index for the US, before analysing the effect of both local and US policy uncertainty on the Scandinavian economies. Our findings indicate that increased policy uncertainty both at home and in the US leads to economic contraction, a significant decline in stock markets and a long-lasting reduction in the Scandinavian countries’ Purchasing Managers’ Index. These results can be highly relevant for anyone seeking to predict economic indicators in Scandinavia, or other small, open economies. Similarly, our findings can help to better understand how companies react to changes in policy uncertainty.