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Macroprudential Policies and Global Finance  

Stijn Claessens, Aaron Mehrotra, and Ilhyock Shim

Macroprudential policy involves using mainly prudential but sometimes also monetary and fiscal tools to reduce systemic risk and achieve financial stability. It is motivated by externalities associated with the buildup of systemic risk over time due to strategic complementarities, fire sales and credit crunches related to a generalized sell-off of assets, and strong cross-institutional interconnectedness. Macroprudential tools apply to both banks and nonbank financial institutions and to different classes of borrowers to the extent that they come with systemic risks. Both advanced economies (AEs) and emerging market economies (EMEs) have steadily increased their use of macroprudential measures since the mid-1990s. Empirical evidence suggests that tighter macroprudential policy has improved banking system resilience and that tools such as lower caps on loan-to-value or debt service ratios have helped reduce housing credit and price growth. Evidence shows that while tightening macroprudential policy is generally effective, relaxing it is less so. By moderating fluctuations in general bank credit, housing/household credit, or house prices, macroprudential policy tends to reduce the severity and likelihood of future crises as well as the volatility of growth, but recent studies also show that it slows output growth. As financial globalization progresses, macroprudential policy may become less effective due to regulatory arbitrage and cross-border leakages, especially in financially more open AEs and EMEs, also given the limited scope for international coordination and the lack of an internationally agreed-upon macroprudential framework. To deal with the associated externally driven risks, many EMEs use foreign exchange (FX)-related macroprudential tools, e.g., FX liability-based reserve requirements, limits on currency mismatch or FX positions, and FX liquidity requirements. In EMEs, FX intervention can also play a macroprudential role. In contrast, AEs rarely use such instruments but use macroprudential capital buffers more actively than EMEs. Recent evidence suggests both positive and negative international spillover effects of these and other macroprudential policies. These and other findings point to the need to build formal models that have a macro-financial stability framework (MFSF) at their core. The framework incorporates the relevant policy tools, their individual effects, and interactions, and captures the channels of financial risk-taking and their implications for global and domestic financial conditions. Such an MFSF includes monetary policy to ensure macroeconomic stability and assist with financial stability, fiscal policy to guarantee fiscal sustainability and limit cyclical economic fluctuations, and macroprudential policy to complement monetary and fiscal policies by strengthening the resilience of the financial system and limiting the buildup of financial imbalances. Research is underway to develop such models, but considerable scope for further work in this area exists.