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Monetary Policy Shocks and Portfolio Choice

  • Fratzscher, Marcel
  • Saborowski, Christian
  • Straub, Roland

The paper shows that monetary policy shocks exert a substantial effect on the size and composition of capital flows and the trade balance for the United States, with a 100 basis point easing raising net capital inflows and lowering the trade balance by 1% of GDP, and explaining about 20-25% of their time variation. Monetary policy easing causes positive returns to both equities and bonds. Yet such a monetary policy easing shock also induces a shift in portfolio composition out of equities and into bonds, implying a negative conditional correlation between flows in equities and bonds. Moreover, such shocks induce a negative conditional correlation between equity flows and equity returns, but a positive conditional correlation between bond flows and bond returns. The findings thus provide evidence for the presence of a portfolio rebalancing motive behind investment decisions in equities, but the dominance of what is akin to a return chasing motive for bonds, conditional on monetary policy shocks. The results also shed light on the puzzle of the strongly time-varying equity-bond return correlations found in the literature. JEL Classification: F4, E52, G1, F32

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1122.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20091122
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