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Research Publications

Journal of Asian Economics

6 February 2023

Lights Out? COVID-19 Containment Policies and Economic Activity

with Tarun Jain & Robert C.M. Beyer



This paper estimates how strongly COVID-19 containment policies have impacted aggregate economic activity. We use a difference-in-differences methodology to estimate how containment zones of different severity across India impacted district-level nighttime light intensity, as well as household income and consumption. From May to July 2020, nighttime light intensity was 9.1 % lower in districts with the most severe restrictions compared with districts with the least severe restrictions, which could imply between 5.8 % and 6.6 % lower GDP. Nighttime light intensity was only 1.6 % lower in districts with intermediate restrictions. The differences were largest in May during the graded lockdown, and tapered in June and July. Lower house-hold income and consumption corresponding to zone-wise restrictions corroborate these results. Stricter containment measures had larger impacts in districts with greater population density, older residents, and more services employment. The large magnitudes of the findings suggest that governments should carefully consider the economic costs of country-wide pandemic containment policies while weighing the trade-offs against public health benefits. 

The interaction between macroprudential policy and monetary policy: Overview

with Matthieu Bussière, Jin Cao, Jakob de Haan, Robert Hills, Simon Lloyd, Baptiste Meunier, Justine Pedrono, Dennis Reinhardt, Rhiannon Sowerbutts, Konstantin Styrin



This paper presents the main findings of an International Banking Research Network initiative examining the interaction between monetary policy and macroprudential policy in determining international bank lending. We give an overview on the data, empirical specifications and results of the seven papers from the initiative. The papers are from a range of core and smaller advanced economies, and emerging markets . The main findings are as follows. First, there is evidence that macroprudential policy in recipient countries can partly offset the spillover effects of monetary policy conducted in core countries. Meanwhile, domestic macroprudential policy in core countries can also affect the cross-border transmission of domestic monetary policy via lending abroad, by limiting the increase in lending by less strongly capitalized banks. Second, the findings highlight that studying heterogeneities across banks provides complementary insights to studies using more aggregate data and focusing on average effects. In particular, we find that individual bank characteristics such as bank size or GSIB status play a first-order role in the transmission of these policies. Finally, the impacts differ considerably across prudential policy instruments, which also suggests the importance of more granular analysis.


Current account balances & non-financial corporate savings

with Purna Banerjee


As non-financial corporate sector savings tend to increase globally, its effect on the current account balance assumes particular significance for macro-financial stability. This study investigates the relationship between current account balance and (non-financial) corporate savings for a panel of developed and developing countries. Using a system GMM model, we find that the average current account increases by 0.32% when non-financial corporate savings increase by 1%. Our results are robust to controlling for household sector and government net savings. While the nature of relationship varies across developed versus developing economies, we find that outward flow of FDI and net investment income are plausible channels through which the non-financial corporate savings impact a country's current account, where corporate savings are affected more by their own income effect compared to a relative price effect. A country's demographic characteristics and currency strength are important determinants driving this relationship.

Estimating Option-implied Risk Aversion for Indian Markets

with Bandi Kamaiah


What do nearly 1.5 lakh observations of options data say about risk preferences of Indian investors? This paper explores a nonparametric technique to compute probability density functions (PDFs) directly from NIFTY 50 option prices in India, based on the utility preferences of the representative investor. Use of probability density functions to estimate investor expectations of the distribution of future levels of the underlying assets has gained tremendous popularity over the last decade. Studying option prices provides information about the market participants’ probability assessment of the future outcome of the underlying asset. We compare the forecast ability of the risk-neutral PDF and risk-adjusted density functions to arrive at a unique index of relative risk aversion for Indian markets. Results indicate that risk-adjusted PDFs are reasonably better forecasts of investor expectations of future levels of the underlying assets. We find that Indian investors are not neutral to risk, contrary to the theoretical assumption of risk-neutrality among investors. The computed time-series of relative risk aversion overcomes the limitations of the VIX (implied volatility index) to yield a more reliable index, particularly useful for the Indian markets. Validity of the computed index is established by comparing with existing measures of risk and the relationships are found to be consistent with market expectations.

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