There is a tide in the affairs of men

Above a suggested choice for the single take-away chart from the presentations at the Kansas City Fed’s economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s from Helene Rey’s paper (London Business School). It shows all types of capital inflows expressed a percentage of world GDP on a quarterly basis since 1990, plotted against the VIX, which is a measure of perceived volatility embedded in options markets (in green, higher level=lower risk).

The argument (which has been confirmed by deeper research of herself and others) is that there is a remarkably simple (conceptually) component in capital inflows worldwide which seems to correspond to a single driver across many markets, countries, asset types, and exchange rate regimes.

As she notes, the implication is that these capital flows might need to be regulated, including by various instruments that wouldn’t have been mentioned in polite economic society a few years ago.

The open question may be that if this capital flow beast is so virulent and global, are normal means of country policy and international coordination strong enough to do anything about it? We might actually need one of these global super-regulators that people seem to think we already have.

One thought on “There is a tide in the affairs of men

  1. So here we have an association between two very different variables, and “the implication is that these capital flows might need to be regulated.” Reminds me of a Carl Sagan classic about Venus: “Observation: nothing. Conclusion: dinosaurs.”

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