Macro Musings Podcast: Claudio Borio (Podcast)

by: David Beckworth

My latest Macro Musings podcast is with Claudio Borio. Claudio is the director of the Monetary and Economic Department at the Bank for International Settlements (NASDAQ:BIS) and has been at the BIS in various roles since 1987. Previously, he was an economist with the OECD. Claudio is the author of numerous publications in the fields of monetary policy, banking, finance and issues related to financial stability. He is a leading voice on macroprudential regulation as well on international monetary stability issues. Claudio joined me to talk about these and other issues.

We began our conversation by considering what it is like to work at the BIS, the banks for central banks. We then segue to a discussion on the period leading up to the Great Recession, a time when the BIS was one of the few institutions warning about the credit and housing boom. How did they get it right when so many central banks got it wrong? One answer is the BIS perspective on macroeconomics goes beyond the standard took kit of interest rates, inflation, and output gaps. The BIS, for example, does not see price stability as a sufficient condition for financial stability, it looks at gross capital flows rather than net, and it closely follows excessive credit growth. This thinking was largely absent from central banks prior to 2008.

Our conversation next moved to the international monetary system, the outsized role the dollar and the Fed plays in it, the Triffin dilemma, and what can be done to make the global financial system more robust.

Claudio gave an interesting talk late last year title Revisting the Three Pillars of Monetary Policy. The three pillars are the importance of the equilibrium interest rate, the long-run neutrality of monetary policy, and the need to avoid deflation in all circumstances. We discuss why a more nuanced understanding of these ideas is needed and how it may have produced better macroeconomic policy before the crisis. For example, Claudio notes that this understanding would have made it easier to avoid the 'debt trap' that much of the global economy seems to be stuck in at the present. It also would have made central banks less fearful of benign deflationary pressures - those created by positive supply shocks - and thus avoided unnecessarily easy monetary policy during the housing boom period.

We then review Claudio's coauthored article that reviews the vast amount of research that has been done on estimating the effect of the various unconventional monetary policies tried since the Great Recession. Claudio's survey of the literature finds that these policies have influenced yields and asset prices, but their effect on the real economy is more uncertain.

Finally, we close by asking Claudio what advice he would give to a young, budding macroeconomist. It was a fascinating conversation throughout.

You can listen to the podcast on SoundCloud, iTunes, or your favorite podcast app. You can also listen via the embedded player above. And remember to subscribe since more shows are coming.