Benn Steil and Dinah Walker analyze the market reaction to the publication of the European Central Bank's long-awaited bank stress test results. The ECB's coddling of stress-tested banks — through the use of inflated inflation estimates and generous treatment of tax offsets against future profits which may never arise — precipitated a sell-off of bank stocks in a period when broad European indexes were up significantly. Unlike with the successful 2009 U.S. stress tests, there is no credible backstop of public funds available for Eurozone bank recapitalization, which would account for the ECB's reluctance to draw attention to the sector's undercapitalization.
Benn Steil's latest op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, co-authored with Dinah Walker, explains why the ECB's anticipated foray into more aggressive monetary stimulus next week won't have any significant effect on the availability and cost of private-sector credit. The ECB believes that its ongoing bank stress tests will help revive the eurozone's moribund banking industry, but they argue that the tests are counterproductive without a mechanism in place to assure sufficient recapitalization of banks that fall short—as there was in the United States in 2009.
Benn Steil's latest op-ed in Forbes, co-authored with Dinah Walker, shows that the Fed's incorporation of the unemployment rate into its forward guidance has been a failure. Such poor communications could roil the markets as the Fed shifts policy from accommodation to tightening.
Benn Steil's latest op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, co-authored with Dinah Walker, shows that developing countries running large current account deficits have seen their economies whipsawed by volatile capital flows triggered by unconventional monetary policy at the Fed and elsewhere in the developed world. The clear lesson for such countries is that they should pursue policies which constitute "currency manipulation" in Washington, thereby setting the stage for rising global trade tensions.
Benn Steil's latest Forbes op-ed, co-authored with Dinah Walker, shows why Greece may turn out to be a deciding factor in the German elections. While it is widely believed that a fresh mandate for Chancellor Merkel means more robust German involvement to end the eurozone crisis, they show why the loss of her FDP coalition partner could mean the opposite.
Benn Steil and Dinah Walker explain the market massacre following Ben Bernanke's press conference on June 19. Bernanke's repeated statements that a key tool of current Fed policy, asset purchases, would be "calibrated" to employment data, each month's publication of which can imply a major shift in the unemployment trend line, suggests that Fed tightening could begin as early as the middle of next year—nearly a year and half earlier than the Fed had suggested in its pledge statement last fall.
Benn Steil and Dinah Walker explain why the Fed's massive holdings of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are distorting its thinking about the conduct of monetary policy going forward.They propose a novel plan to rectify this, in which the Fed swaps its MBS with the Treasury in return for Treasury securities, which the Fed can sell as part of a normal "exit" from monetary stimulus.
Benn Steil's Wall Street Journal Europe op-ed, co-authored with Dinah Walker, argues that the Bank of England is getting "Libored"—that is, misled and manipulated—by the banks benefiting from its Funding for Lending Scheme. The Fed, which has shown interest in the scheme, should beware.
Benn Steil's column in Dow Jones' Financial News, co-authored with Dinah Walker, analyzes Mitt Romney's budget math. Without questioning the candidate's assumptions on growth or available sources of revenue, they estimate a roughly $1 trillion annual budget gap.
Benn Steil's Wall Street Journal op-ed, co-authored with Dinah Walker, shows that the Fed has effectively been targeting "risk on, risk off"—prodding investors into and out of risky financial assets—for over a decade now. He derives a rule that predicts the Fed's behavior since 2000 even better than the "Taylor Rule" did from 1987 to 1999.
Benn Steil's column in Dow Jones' Financial News, co-authored with Dinah Walker, provides new evidence highlighting the endemic flaws in LIBOR as both a benchmark for setting market lending rates and a central-bank metric for judging policy effectiveness.
Policymakers are currently debating the appropriate level of U.S. military spending given increasingly constrained budgets and the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The following charts present historical trends in U.S. military spending and analyze the forces that may drive it lower.
Benn Steil and Dinah Walker argue that the ECB's bank stress tests will roil rather than calm markets if recapitalization funds are not set aside in advance, as they were in the case of the highly successful U.S. tests in 2009.
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