Mihai Patrulescu (ITFD ’10) on the rebalancing of Romanian markets

ITFD alum Mihai Patrulescu ’10 analyzes the Romanian market in an article for Emerging Europe.

“Over the past three years, the Romanian economy has recorded some of the fastest growth rates in the European Union, helped by a rapid expansion of consumer spending,” he writes. “During this period, retail sales have benefited from what can be considered as a perfect storm of growth catalysts.”

Read his full commentary on the Romanian economy on Emerging Europe

Mihai’s bio from Colliers International:

Mihai has joined Colliers International in October 2016 as Head of Strategic Analysis. Prior to this position, Mihai coordinated the economic research activities of UniCredit Romania, working for the bank between 2012 and 2016. During this period, he has focused on the Romanian economy as well as the CEE region, along with the banking system and financial markets. Prior to UniCredit, Mihai also worked as a research economist for Bancpost, the Romanian subsidiary of EFG Eurobank.

During 2015/2016, Mihai was seconded on assignment to the Milan Headquarters of UniCredit, working as a management consultant on the implementation of the bank’s strategic plan.

Mihai holds a Master’s in International Trade, Finance and Development from the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. During his academic undertakings, he has focused on economic crises in emerging markets, and particularly their impact on financial systems. Mihai also holds a Bachelor degree from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest.

TEDxGothenburg: Money talks – but where does it come from? (Sascha Buetzer ’11)

In this post, Sascha Buetzer ’11 (Macro) shares his experience of giving a talk at TEDx Gothenburg.


Barcelona GSE Macroeconomics and Financial Markets alum Sascha Buetzer ’11 is currently a PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Munich. After starting his career at the European Central Bank, he has been working as an economist in the International Monetary Affairs Division at the Deutsche Bundesbank, primarily in an advisory role for the German executive director at the International Monetary Fund.

In this post, Sascha shares his experience of giving a talk at TEDx Gothenburg in November 2016. The video is included below.


Last November I was given the unique opportunity to present my ideas to an audience that usually doesn’t get to hear much about the inner workings of the financial system and central banking. At the TEDx Conference “Spectrum” in Gothenburg, Sweden, I was one of 10 speakers who were given not more than 20 minutes to convey an “idea worth spreading.”

My talk centered around how money is created in a modern economy and what can be done to improve upon this process, in particular in the context of the euro crisis. Quite a challenge, as it turned out, given the short amount of time and the need to keep things understandable and entertaining since most of the audience did not have an economic background.

It was, however, an extremely exciting and rewarding experience.

After getting in touch with the organizers through a chance encounter at the Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) last year, all speakers got an individually assigned coach who provided excellent feedback and recommendations for the talk.

The day of the conference itself was thoroughly enjoyable (at least after the initial rush of adrenaline had subsided). It was fascinating to interact with people from widely varying backgrounds that all shared a natural curiosity and desire to learn from each other. And at the end of the day it felt great for having been able to contribute to this, by providing people with insight into a topic so important, yet so little-known.

Watch the talk here:

See also:
Coverage of the talk by University of Gothenburg
– More coverage from University of Gothenburg
– Other talks from TEDxGothenburg “Spectrum” 2016

Optimal density forecast combinations (Unicredit & Universities Job Market Best Paper Award)

Greg Ganics (Economics ’12 and PhD candidate at UPF-GPEFM) provides a non-technical summary of his job market paper, which has won the 2016 UniCredit & Universities Economics Job Market Best Paper Award.

authorEditor’s note: In this post, Greg Ganics (Economics ’12 and PhD candidate at UPF-GPEFM) provides a non-technical summary of his job market paper, “Optimal density forecast combinations,” which has won the 2016 UniCredit & Universities Economics Job Market Best Paper Award.

After the recent Great Recession, major economies found themselves in a situation with low interest rates and fragile economic growth. This combination, along with major political changes in key countries (the US and the UK) makes forecasting more difficult and uncertain. As a consequence, policy makers and researchers have become more interested in density forecasts, which provide a measure of uncertainty around point forecasts (for a non-technical overview of density forecasts, see Rossi (2014)). This facilitates communication between researchers, policy makers, and the wider public. Well-known examples include the fan charts of the Bank of England, and the Surveys of Professional Forecasters of the Philadelphia Fed and the European Central Bank.

BOE fan chart. Source: Bank of England Inflation Report, November 2016

Forecasters often use a variety of models to generate density forecasts. Naturally, these forecasts are different, and therefore researchers face the question: how shall we combine these predictions? While there is an extensive literature on both the theoretical and practical aspects of combinations of point forecasts, our knowledge is rather limited about how density forecasts should be combined.

In my job market paper “Optimal density forecast combinations,” I propose a method that answers this question. My main contribution is a consistent estimator of combination weights, which could be used to produce a combined predictive density that is superior to the individual models’ forecasts. This framework is general enough to include a wide range of forecasting methods, from judgmental forecast to structural and non-structural models. Furthermore, the estimated weights provide information on the individual models’ performance over time. This time-variation could further enhance researchers’ and policy makers’ understanding of the relevant drivers of key economic variables, such as GDP growth or unemployment.

Macroeconomists in academia and at central banks often pay special attention to industrial production, as this variable is available at the monthly frequency, therefore it can signal booms and busts in a timely manner. In an empirical example of forecasting monthly US industrial production, I demonstrate that my novel methodology delivers density forecasts which outperform well-known benchmarks, such as the equal weights scheme. Moreover, I show that housing permits had valuable predictive power before and after the Great Recession. Furthermore, stock returns and corporate bond spreads proved to be useful predictors during the recent crisis, suggesting that financial variables help with density forecasting in a highly leveraged economy.

The methodology I propose in my job market paper can be useful in a wide range of applications, for example in macroeconomics and finance, and offers several avenues for further research, both theoretical and applied.


Ganics, G. (2016): Optimal density forecast combinations. Job market paper

Rossi, B. (2014): Density forecasts in economics and policymaking. Els Opuscles del CREI, No. 37

EU Banking Union: What it is and What it is Not

Arturo Pallardó ’15 (Master in Economics) and Christopher Gandrud (Lecturer, City University London) have put together a summary of the European multilevel bank regulatory structure.

banking union

The health of the European banking system has come back into the media spotlight. The recent fall in bank shares; the creation of the Italian “bad bank”; and Britain’s demands to shield its banks from rules governing the euro region; suggest that the debate on the design and functioning of the European banking regulatory architecture will be on the table in the following months.

Given the complex and evolving nature of European banking regulation, there is much confusion about what has already been established and what plans are being discussed. We hope to clarify the current and proposed state of the European bank regulatory architecture. We differentiate which rules and institutions form the so-called “banking union” and which rules are part of the more general EU single market for financial services.

You can read the full summary on bankingunion.eu, a website run by Arturo that curates content and fosters debate on the European banking union’s evolution.

Follow the authors on Twitter @bankingunion_eu and @chrisgandrud



New banking union website by Arturo Pallardó ’15

Economics alum Arturo Pallardó ’15 has created a new website to follow the evolution of the European banking union.

Arturo Pallardó (Master in Economics ’15) is the creator of the @bankingunion_eu Twitter account and has just launched a new website to follow the evolution of the European banking union. Here he tells Barcelona GSE Voice readers about the project:

As expressed by the European Central Bank, the construction of a banking union emerged from the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent sovereign debt crisis: “It became clear that, especially in a monetary union such as the euro area, problems caused by close links between public sector finances and the banking sector can easily spill over national borders and cause financial distress in other EU countries”.

However, this European project is still under construction. The ultimate goal of this www.bankingunion.eu website is to gather and structure banking union-related documents, from legislative acts to research papers, while fostering the debate on those issues that are unfinished.

Meanwhile, in the current beta version of the web the reader will find different interviews with academics, researchers and professionals discussing some of these banking union topics.


Visit www.bankingunion.eu

Follow @bankingunion_eu on Twitter

Connect with Arturo on LinkedIn

Mapping economic research: where to Nobel Laureates publish their work?

The main idea is to show a graphical representation about the scientific publication patterns that have adopted the winners of the Economic Sciences Prize given by the Nobel Foundation.


Work by José Luis Massón-Guerra (MESI’08, DEMO-PhD)

The main idea is to show a graphical representation about the scientific publication patterns that have adopted the winners of the Economic Sciences Prize given by the Nobel Foundation (officially, this recognition is known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel; colloquially, it is known as the Nobel laureate in economics).

Read more about this project

What’s behind a number? Information systems and the road to universal health coverage

Adam Aten ’13 (Health Economics and Policy)alumni is a researcher at The Brookings Institution focusing on evidence development and biomedical innovation within the Center for Health Policy. Prior to joining Brookings, he was a civil servant at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services developing policy expertise in health insurance for low-income populations, digital information systems and information governance, and cost effectiveness of public health programs.

This week he has written a post for the World Bank’s Investing in Health blog on universal health coverage (UHC). Here are some excerpts:

Decision-makers now have many tools at their disposal to analyze trends and take strategic decisions – increasingly in real-time – thanks to the rapid diffusion and adoption of information and communications technologies. New approaches to collect, manage and analyze data to improve health systems learning, such as how the poor are benefitting (or not) from health care services, are helping to ensure the right care is given to the right patient at the right time, every time – the goal of UHC.

It is relatively easy to agree on public health targets, but actual progress requires a management structure supported by dashboards that can allow monitoring of intermediate outcomes in real-time.

Read the full post on the World Bank’s health blog: What’s behind a number? Information systems and the road to universal health coverage

For those interested in current health policy topics, Mr. Aten is also a chapter co-author of the recently published WB/PAHO book, Toward Universal Health Coverage and Equity in Latin America and the Caribbean : Evidence from Selected Countries

Alumni Voices: micro-foundations, mid-life crises, and more

Links to Barcelona GSE alumni voices around the web

Alumni Voices

Alumni Voices is a roundup of links to recent analysis, research, and commentary by Barcelona GSE graduates that we’ve spotted around the web. 

Alumni Voices – April 2015

Want us to add your work to the next roundup? Send us the link!

Writing about financial repression in Venezuela with Carmen Reinhart

Barcelona GSE alum Miguel Ángel Santosalumni (ITFD ’11 and Economics ’12) is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. He recently won an award for a paper he has written with Harvard Professor Carmen Reinhart. In this post, he shares some background on the paper and some results.

Background of our paper

I approached Carmen Reinhart last year, while I was a Mason Fellow at the Kennedy School. She said she would be very interested in writing something about Venezuela. It turns out that Venezuela is such an anachronic, chaotic economy, that it allows us to study some economic phenomena in a way no other place does.

My idea was writing about foreign debt sustainability and default probabilities, etc. Carmen suggested otherwise. After all, lots of people have been working on foreign debt sustainability, and it would not be interesting adding to that pile of work.

Instead, she suggested looking into domestic debt default via financial repression, and associating that to leakages in the capital account that in turn weakened the foreign asset position. It goes against some market analysts’ assessment that Venezuela can go wild internally, wild being able to serve its external debt without any trouble. So we used two modified formulas for estimating financial repression for the previous 30 years, differentiating free market years from years of exchange controls.

Our results

We proved that financial repression it is not only significantly higher in periods of exchange controls, but also that the sheer size in Venezuela was astounding, equivalent to more developed countries with much larger internal debt-to-GDP ratios. That is to say, with a smaller stock of domestic debt, the Venezuelan regime needs a lot more repression to collect that. So they actually engineer it, creating mechanisms to produce it: right now inflation is running at a rate five times higher than yields on domestic bonds or bank deposits.

We moved on to show that capital flight, conceived in broader sense, including the over-invoice of imports, was higher in periods of exchange controls. Since financial repression is rampant in periods of controls, people will run risks just to jump out of domestic currency and get into dollars (capital flight). They do that by two means:  buying dollar-denominated bonds that the government has been selling in exchange for domestic currency, and over-invoicing imports. We measured the latter by a very innovative process, contrasting Central Bank reported imports with the sum of imports reported at Venezuelan customs. The difference is not only significantly higher across years of controls, but over those years it is 3-4 standard deviations away from the distribution of this error worldwide.

I presented the paper two weeks ago in San Juan, Puerto Rico, within the Business Association of Latin American Studies (BALAS), where it was granted the Sion Raveed Award, given to the best paper of the conference.

Comments welcome from the Barcelona GSE community

CID has published the paper on their working paper series. All comments from the BGSE Alumni and scholars community are welcome at this point. It is a modest paper, dealing with a small, crazy economy. And yet I think it makes a significant contribution.


“From Financial Repression to External Distress: The Case of Venezuela”
Carmen Reinhart and Miguel Angel Santos
Paper abstract and download via Center for International Development at Harvard University

Is Abenomics Firing at the Wrong Targets?

Barcelona GSE Macro alum Naomi Fink ’13 offers analysis of Japan’s recent structural reforms in The Diplomat this month.

Photo: Reuters

Barcelona GSE Macro alum Naomi Fink ’13 offers analysis of Japan’s recent structural reforms in The Diplomat this month:

Japan analyst Naomi Fink, chief executive of Europacifica Consulting, argues that stagnant “total factor productivity” (TFP) and unstable labor/capital shares of income are at the heart of the nation’s economic problems – and short-term fiscal and monetary adjustments simply “won’t cut it.”

Read the full analysis on The Diplomat