Banque nationale suisse

Martin Brown, Armin Falk and Ernst Fehr: Competition and Relational Contracts: The Role of Unemployment as a Disciplinary Device


When unemployment prevails, relations with a particular firm are valuable for workers. As a consequence, a worker may adhere to an implicit agreement to provide high effort, even when performance is no third-party enforceable. But can implicit agreements - or relational contracts - also motivate high worker performance when the labor market is tight? We examine this question by implementing an experimental market in which there is an excess demand for labor and the performance of workers is not third-party enforceable. We show that relational contracts emerge in which firms reward performing workers with wages that exceed the going market rate. This motivates workers to provide high effort, even though they could shirk and switch firms. Our results thus suggest that unemployment is not a necessary device to motivate workers. We also discuss how market conditions affect relational contracting by comparing identical labor markets with excess supply and excess demand for labor. Long-term relationships turn out to be less frequent when there is excess demand for labor compared to a market characterized by unemployment. Surprisingly though, this does not compromise market performance.

Raphael Anton Auer and Thomas Chaney: Cost Pass Through in a Competitive Model of Pricing-to-Market


This paper builds up an extension to the Mussa and Rosen (1978) model of quality pricing under perfect competition. Our model incorporates decreasing returns to scale. First, we predict that exchange rate shocks are imperfectly passed through into prices. Second, prices of low quality goods are more sensitive to exchange rate shocks than prices of high quality goods. Third, in response to an exchange rate appreciation, the composition of exports shifts towards higher quality and more expensive goods. We test those predictions using highly disaggregated price and quantity US import data. We find that the prices of high quality goods, proxied as high unit price goods, are more sensitive to exchange rate movements. Moreover, we find evidence that in response to an exchange rate appreciation, the composition of exports shifts towards high unit price goods.

Marlene Amstad and Andreas M. Fischer: Are Weekly Inflation Forecasts Informative?


Are weekly inflation forecasts informative? Although several central banks review and discuss monetary policy issues on a bi-weekly basis, there have been few attempts by analysts to construct systematic estimates of core inflation that supports such a decision-making schedule. The timeliness of news releases and macroeconomic revisions are recognized to be an important information source in real-time estimation. We incorporate real-time information from macroeconomic releases and revisions into our weekly updates of monthly Swiss core inflation using a common factor procedure. The weekly estimates for Swiss core inflation find that it is worthwhile to update the forecast at least twice a month.

Clara Rueda Maurer: Foreign bank entry, institutional development and credit access: firm-level evidence from 22 transition countries


In this paper I examine how the protection of creditors' rights influence the way in which foreign bank entry affects the access to credit of firms. Using a sample of more than 6000 firms in 22 transition countries I find that as bankruptcy proceedings become more inefficient foreign bank entry is more likely to crowd-out small and opaque firms. Conversely, as the protection of creditors' rights improve, the positive association between foreign banks and firms' credit constraints diminishes. These results are robust to controls for endogeneity of foreign banks. The interaction of foreign banks and the protection of creditors rights would explain the disparity of results obtained by previous studies: In countries with an adequate protection of creditor rights foreign bank entry may benefit all firms; By contrast, in countries with weak protection of creditor rights foreign bank entry is likely to result in a credit crunch.

Katrin Assenmacher-Wesche and M. Hashem Pesaran: Forecasting the Swiss Economy Using VECX* Models: An Exercise in Forecast Combination Across Modelsand Observation Windows


This paper uses vector error correction models of Switzerland for forecasting output, inflation and the short-term interest rate. It considers three different ways of dealing with forecast uncertainties. First, it investigates the effect on forecasting performance of averaging over forecasts from different models. Second, it considers averaging forecasts from different estimation windows. It is found that averaging over estimation windows is at least as effective as averaging over different models and both complement each other. Third, it examines whether using weighting schemes from the machine learning literature improves the average forecast. Compared to equal weights the effect of alternative weighting schemes on forecast accuracy is small in the present application.

Yvan Lengwiler and Carlos Lenz: Intelligible Factors for the Yield Curve


We construct a factor model of the yield curve and specify time series processes for these factors, so that the innovations are mutually orthogonal. At the same time, the factors are constructed in such a way that they assume clear, intuitive interpretations. The resulting "intelligible factors" should prove useful for investment professionals to discuss expectations about yield curves and the implied dynamics. Moreover, they allow us to distinguish announced changes of the monetary policy stance versus monetary policy surprises, which are ctually rare. We identify two such events, namely September 11, 2001, and the Fed reaction to the recent subprime crisis.

Martin Brown and Christian Zehnder: The Emergence of Information Sharing in Credit Markets


We examine how asymmetric information and competition in the credit market affect voluntary information sharing between lenders. We study an experimental credit market in which information sharing can help lenders to distinguish good borrowers from bad ones, ecause borrowers may exogenously switch locations. Lenders are, however, engaged in spatial competition, and thus may lose market power by sharing information with competitors. Our results suggest that asymmetric information in the credit market increases the frequency of information sharing between lenders significantly. Competition between lenders reduces information sharing, but the impact of competition seems to be only of second order importance.

Angelo Ranaldo and Paul Söderlind: Safe Haven Currencies


We study high-frequency exchange rate movements over the sample 1993-2006. We document that the (Swiss) franc, euro, Japanese yen and the pound tend to appreciate against the U.S. dollar when (a) S&P has negative returns; (b) U.S. bond prices increase; and (c) when currency markets become more volatile. In these situations, the franc appreciates also against the other currencies, while the pound depreciates. These safe haven properties of the franc are visible for different time granularities (from a few hours to several days), during both "ordinary days" and crisis episodes and show some non-linear features.

Andreas M. Fischer, Matthias Lutz and Manuel Wälti: Who Prices Locally? Survey Evidence of Swiss Exporters


Survey information on Swiss exporters is used to test the hypothesis that firm-specific factors, in particular firm size, are important determinants of pricing-to-market (PTM). The survey asked exporters whether they set dif- ferent prices across markets and, if so, whether price segmentation occurred because of pricing conditions in the local market or other factors. The empirical analysis is based on a probit model that regresses a binary-choice variable of PTM on firm size and other control variables. The main empirical finding is that firm size and PTM are positively and significantly correlated. A further result is that while firms whose main export market is in the Euro area are less likely to engage in PTM, firm size plays a bigger role for them. These results are robust across different PTM classifications, regression specifications, export destinations, and industrial sectors.

Martin Brown, Tullio Jappelli and Marco Pagano: Information Sharing and Credit: Firm-Level Evidence from Transition Countries


We investigate whether information sharing among banks has affected credit market performance in the transition countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, using a large sample of firm-level data. Our estimates show that information sharing is associated with improved availability and lower cost of credit to firms. This correlation is stronger for opaque firms than transparent firms, and stronger in countries with weak legal environments than countries with strong legal environments. In cross-sectional estimates, we control for variation in country-level aggregate variables that may affect credit, by examining the differential impact of information sharing across firm types. In panel estimates, we also control for the presence of unobserved heterogeneity at the firm level, as well as for changes in macroeconomic variables and the legal environment.


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