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In Defense of Early Warning Signals

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  • Bussière, M.

Abstract

The 2008 financial crisis has rekindled interest in the issue of early warning signals (EWS) of financial distress. It has also triggered renewed interest in the literature on currency crises, with many countries, especially among emerging market economies, experiencing severe exchange market pressure. While several policy institutions are in the process of developing new early warning systems, there is a lot of skepticism on the ability to predict currency crises or, more generally, any type of financial crises. This skepticism stems from the alleged poor out-of-sample performance of leading models, but also from a more fundamental objection, according to which it is by definition impossible to predict crises – what can be referred to as a new “impossibility theorem”. Moreover, another criticism of early warning systems is that they may contribute to the phenomenon they are supposed to fight (the self-fulfilling prophecies view). The objective of this paper is to challenge this skeptical view. To this aim, the paper discusses the general conditions under which the “impossibility theorem” may fail and self-fulfilling prophecies can be avoided, stemming e.g. from political economy arguments. The ability of a simple currency crisis model to provide useful information on economic vulnerabilities is illustrated by testing its out-of-sample performance in a panel of emerging market economies following the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Suggested Citation

  • Bussière, M., 2013. "In Defense of Early Warning Signals," Working papers 420, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:420
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Joy & Marek Rusnák & Kateřina Šmídková & Bořek Vašíček, 2017. "Banking and Currency Crises: Differential Diagnostics for Developed Countries," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(1), pages 44-67, January.
    2. Vesna Bucevska, 2015. "Currency Crises in EU Candidate Countries: An Early Warning System Approach," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 62(4), pages 493-510, September.
    3. V. Coudert & J. Idier, 2016. "An Early Warning System for Macro-prudential Policy in France," Working papers 609, Banque de France.
    4. Andrew Berg & Enrico G Berkes & Catherine A Pattillo & Andrea Presbitero & Yorbol Yakhshilikov, 2014. "Assessing Bias and Accuracy in the World Bank-IMF's Debt Sustainability Framework for Low-Income Countries," IMF Working Papers 14/48, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Exchange rates; currency crises; financial crises; early warning signals; political economy.;

    JEL classification:

    • B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
    • C52 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Evaluation, Validation, and Selection
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises

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