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Risk-on/risk-off, capital flows, leverage and safe assets

Author

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  • Robert N. McCauley

    (Senior Adviser, Monetary and Economic Department, Bank for International Settlements)

Abstract

This paper describes the international flow of funds associated with calm and volatile global equity markets. During calm periods, portfolio investment by real money and leveraged investors in advanced countries flows into emerging markets. When central banks in the receiving countries resist exchange rate appreciation and buy dollars against domestic currency, they end up investing in medium-term bonds in reserve currencies. In the process they fund themselves (or "sterilise" the expansion of local bank reserves) by issuing safe assets in domestic currency to domestic investors. Thus, calm periods, marked by leveraged investing in emerging markets, lead to an asymmetric asset swap (risky emerging market assets against safe reserve currency assets) and leveraging up by emerging market central banks. In declining and volatile global equity markets, these flows reverse, and, contrary to some claims, emerging market central banks draw down reserves substantially. In effect, emerging market central banks then release safe assets from their reserves, supplying safe havens to global investors.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert N. McCauley, 2012. "Risk-on/risk-off, capital flows, leverage and safe assets," Public Policy Review, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance Japan, vol. 8(3), pages 281-298, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:mof:journl:ppr017c
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aizenman, J. & Jinjarak, Y. & Park, D. & Zheng, H., 2021. "Good-bye original sin, hello risk on-off, financial fragility, and crises?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 117(C).
    2. De Bock, Reinout & de Carvalho Filho, Irineu, 2015. "The behavior of currencies during risk-off episodes," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 218-234.
    3. Funke, Michael & Shu, Chang & Cheng, Xiaoqiang & Eraslan, Sercan, 2015. "Assessing the CNH–CNY pricing differential: Role of fundamentals, contagion and policy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 245-262.
    4. French, Joseph J. & Li, Wei-Xuan, 2017. "Sentiment, foreign equity flows, and returns: Evidence from Thailand’s stock markets," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 816-831.
    5. Aizenman, Joshua & Pinto, Brian & Sushko, Vladyslav, 2013. "Financial sector ups and downs and the real sector in the open economy: Up by the stairs, down by the parachute," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 1-30.
    6. Hadj Fraj, Salma & bouchoucha, Najeh & Maktouf, Samir, 2020. "Political stability and economic growth: the role of exchange rate regime," MPRA Paper 104586, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Haakon Kavli & Kevin Kotzé, 2014. "Spillovers in Exchange Rates and the Effects of Global Shocks on Emerging Market Currencies," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 82(2), pages 209-238, June.
    8. Emanuel Kohlscheen & Fernando Avalos & Andreas Schrimpf, 2017. "When the Walk Is Not Random: Commodity Prices and Exchange Rates," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 13(2), pages 121-158, June.
    9. Haakon Kavli & Nicola Viegi, 2017. "Are Determinants of Portfolio Flows Always the Same? - South African Results from a Time Varying Parameter Var Model," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 85(1), pages 3-27, March.
    10. Hadj Fraj, Salma & Hamdaoui, Mekki & Maktouf, Samir, 2018. "Governance and economic growth: The role of the exchange rate regime," International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 326-364.
    11. Chang Shu & Dong He & Jinyue Dong & Honglin Wang, 2016. "Regional pull vs global push factors: China and US influence on Asia-Pacific financial markets," BIS Working Papers 579, Bank for International Settlements.
    12. Mary M. Everett, 2015. "Blowing the Bubble: The Global Funding of the Irish Credit Boom," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 46(3), pages 339-365.
    13. Jotikasthira, Chotibhak & Lundblad, Christian & Ramadorai, Tarun, 2013. "How do foreign investors impact domestic economic activity? Evidence from India and China," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 89-110.
    14. Michał Fronc & Piotr Mielus, 2017. "Financial convergence on emerging markets: the case of CEE countries," Bank i Kredyt, Narodowy Bank Polski, vol. 48(2), pages 149-172.
    15. Chang Shu & Dong He & Honglin Wang & Jinyue Dong, 2015. "The influence of Chinese and US financial markets on Asia-Pacific," BIS Papers chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Cross-border Financial Linkages: Challenges for Monetary Policy and Financial Stability, volume 82, pages 7-24, Bank for International Settlements.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital flows; safe assets; international flow of funds; VIX; global liquidity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets

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