Realized Volatility Estimation – Barcelona GSE Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


Realized Volatility Estimation

Authors:

Miquel Masoliver, Guillem Roig, Shikhar Singla

Master Program:

Finance

Paper Abstract:

The main purpose of this study is to try to find the optimal volatility estimator in a non-parametric framework. In particular, this study focuses on the estimation of the daily integrated variance-covariance matrix of stock returns using simulated and high-frequency data in the presence of market microstructure noise, jumps, and non-synchronous trading. This work is structured in three building blocks: (i) price processes are simulated in the presence of jumps and market microstructure noise. This allows us to obtain some insight about the estimators’ performance. (ii) The aforementioned realized volatility estimators are applied to high-frequency data of the S&P 100 stocks of October 27th 2010 using 5-second, 10-second, 30-second, 1-minute and 2-minute time intervals. (iii) We use the estimated covariance matrices to construct the global minimum variance portfolio for each sampling frequency. These global minimum variance portfolios are used to build 30 day ex-post portfolio’s returns and we use the variance of these returns to compare between the performance of the estimators.

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Rethinking Fogape – Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


Rethinking Fogape: An Evaluation of Chile’s Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme

Authors:

Margarita Armenteros, Niccolò Artellini, Andreas Hoppe, Marco Urizar, and Bernard Yaros

Master Program:

International Trade, Finance and Development

Paper Summary:

Small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) often find themselves credit constrained due to a lack of collateral, limited credit history, and informational asymmetries that entail high monitoring costs for lenders. Governments around the world have introduced partial credit guarantee schemes (PCGS) to overcome these constraints and ease financial access for SMEs. These schemes aim to relieve credit-constrained firms by providing public collateral that reduces the risk borne by private lenders in the event of a default. In recent years, PCGS have been utilized as a way to protect SME lending in the backdrop of the global credit crunch.

Why are SMEs important? Any economy is dependent on the innovation, technological change, and job creation that new enterprises introduce, and in most cases, such firms are small in size. The role of SMEs in Chile is no exception. By 2009, the SME sector in Chile contributed to 20% of GDP, and the percentage of workers employed in SMEs stood at 56.4% in 2011. Nevertheless, Chilean SMEs have pointed to the fact that their difficulties in obtaining a formal loan rest with a lack of guarantees and high financial costs.

In 2000, Chile relaunched its public guarantee fund Fogape (Fondo de garantías para pequeños empresarios) with the goal of providing public guarantees for loans taken out by SMEs with private financial institutions. In 2007 and 2009, the government re-capitalized the fund by $10 million and $130 million respectively as a direct countercyclical response to the international financial crisis. Fogape is unique in the way by which it disseminates its guarantees into the credit market; it does so through an auctioning system that is designed to reduce moral hazard on the part of participating banks that bid for Fogape’s guarantees.

To assess econometrically the impact of Fogape on eligible firms, we used firm-level data obtained from two longitudinal surveys undertaken by the Ministry of Economy. We employed the strategy of regression discontinuity design (RDD) in which receipt of the treatment depends discontinuously on the value of one or more observable characteristics of the subjects. In our case, we exploited an arbitrary threshold of eligibility by which only firms with reported sales less than $750,000 are eligible for Fogape’s guarantees.

We estimated the intention-to-treat, or the effect of eligibility to Fogape on eligible firms vis-à-vis ineligible ones. In keeping with the literature on RDD, we restricted our sample of interest to only those enterprises whose reported sales fall within a distance h on either side of the sales cutoff of eligibility. Our robustness checks confirmed that eligible and ineligible firms at the margins on either side of the cutoff were not systematically different in key baseline characteristics.

We selected the following outcome variables in which we expected to observe a change due to Fogape’s presence: the log difference of sales from 2007 to 2009; debt-to-equity ratio in 2009; profit margin in 2009; and long-term debt over total debt in 2009.

Log Sales Growth

 

We did not obtain any statistically significant results, suggesting that the effect of eligibility is neither positive nor harmful to the various performance indicators of the eligible enterprises in our sample of interest. We found that eligible firms within our bandwidth h, ceteris paribus, experienced less proportional change in their sales from 2007 to 2009 than ineligible ones. We had expected to see firms that are eligible for credit guarantees to have higher sales growth because of the investment in working capital and productive assets that such access to credit would allow for. The finding from our RDD analysis that eligible firms had less debt-to-equity in 2009 than non-eligible ones was equally puzzling. We expected eligibility to have increased their debt-to-equity ratio vis-à-vis similar ineligible firms because of the loans they are getting through Fogape. Finally, the result that eligible, surveyed firms had less long-term to total debt in 2009 than ineligible ones within our bandwidth h was also contrary to our expectations. Fogape has put emphasis on its allocation of guarantees to long-term credit, which led us to believe that there would be a corresponding increase in the long-term over total debt ratio of eligible firms.

We started with the premise that SMEs are credit constrained, which validates Fogape’s raison d’être in the economy as a provider of credit. We also assumed that this guaranteed credit would be used for productive investments, which would then be reflected in firm profitability and sales growth. Why do we find no evidence of Fogape’s impact during the period of 2007 to 2009? Are firms receiving Fogape-guaranteed loans not truly credit constrained? Or are lenders substituting Fogape guarantees for private ones? Do these firms have the expertise or productivity to undertake successful investments? In the survey used in our study, it is possible to identify 369 firms that received Fogape guarantees for a secondary loan in 2009. Out of these firms, 40% obtained their primary loan using physical collateral and 18% using private guarantees, thereby hinting at a substitutability problem. However, it is still not possible to say that Fogape users, which already had access to the fund or other sources of credit, were not credit constrained to begin with. We suggest more research be carried out and that the portfolio of participating lenders be reviewed to determine whether lenders have been substituting private for public guarantees and if Fogape beneficiaries were truly credit constrained. We find evidence that firms also face difficulties besides credit constraints. In the 2010 World Bank Enterprise Survey, Chilean firms identify an inadequately educated workforce as their second largest constraint. Furthermore, 25% of small and 22% of medium-sized firms identify this very constraint as their main obstacle. To address productivity concerns as well as competitiveness issues facing SME’s, we propose more complementarity between Fogape and other pro-SME institutions and public programs.

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Macroeconomic Risk and the Labor Share of Income – Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


Macroeconomic Risk and the Labor Share of Income

Author:

Gregor Schubert

Master Program:

Economics

Paper Abstract:

This paper suggests a novel explanation for variations in the labor share of income: the change in the variance and covariance of macroeconomic shocks over time. I present a model of the labor market that links the labor share with macroeconomic risk. In an economy where firms contract nominal wage payments in advance, real wages and profits fluctuate with unexpected inflation shocks. Consequently, both workers and capital investors demand risk premia that depend on the variance of inflation and the covariance of productivity and inflation shocks, respectively. If workers are heterogeneous with regard to their risk aversion and firms pay each his reservation wage, then this model implies that the equilibrium labor share of income depends negatively on these inflation and covariance risk factors. Using panel data for 23 OECD countries from 1975 to 2011, I show that these theoretical predictions also hold empirically: The variance of inflation and the covariance of real GDP growth with inflation explain a substantial part of the variation in the labor share, even after controlling for other potential determinants of the factor shares of income.

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Sticky House Price? – Barcelona GSE Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


Sticky House Price?

Author:

Vorada Limjaroenrat

Master Program:

Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets

Paper Abstract:

The assumption of fully flexible house price is widespread in several general equilibrium monetary models. In this paper, I provide selective survey of existing evidence, arguing that rigidities do exist in house price movements, along with empirical and theoretical contributions. In the 18 OECD countries evidence-based VAR analysis of monetary transmission mechanism, a rent puzzle arises as real rent increases in response to exogenous increase in interest rate, opposite with what the theory suggests. In the final part of the paper, 18 OECD countries are divided into two subgroups of low and high credit market flexibility. The results present interesting linkages between sticky price, bubbles, monetary policy, and credit market condition that should be high on future research agenda.

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Multimarket Contact and Collusion in the Ecuadorian Pharmaceutical Sector – Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


pills

Multimarket Contact and Collusion in the Ecuadorian Pharmaceutical Sector

Authors:

Jerónimo Callejas and Igne Grazyte

Master Program:

Competition and Market Regulation

Paper Abstract:

The paper analyses the effects of multimarket contact on prices in the Ecuadorian pharmaceutical sector and its capacity to serve as a tool to facilitate collusion. We estimate the effect that the multimarket contact has on firms’ price setting behaviour by applying multimarket contact models and simple econometric techniques. Our findings show that multimarket contact has a positive effect on multivitamin prices in Ecuador and could indeed be helping to sustain collusion between firms.

Conclusions:

We have tried to estimate the possible effect that multimarket contacts might have on prices and collusion in the Ecuadorian pharmaceutical industry. For the purposes of this paper we have chosen to limit our analysis and only focus on the market for multivitamins defined at the 4th ATC level. To test our predictions we tried to replicate simple techniques used by Ciliberto and Williams (2013), Evans and Kessides (1994) and Coronado (2010). We have constructed a multimarket contact index and estimated its effect on prices by using IV and then Panel Data with fixed effects estimations and also correcting for endogeneity.

As seen in section 5, our model gives robust results and provides a reasonable confirmation of our expectations: the coefficients predicted by the two models (IV and panel data with fixed effects) have the correct sings and are highly significant. Our results show that the IV estimation alone is insufficient to successfully solve all endogeneity issues, however we find that using panel data with fixed effects and also instrumenting endogenous variables (MMC) we can successfully remove the endogeneity problem from the proposed regression and obtain unbiased estimates. Our analysis shows that average multimarket contact index has a significant positive effect on price, thus confirming our predictions that the contacts between firms in different product markets can lead to higher prices for pharmaceutical products. Although we believe that this result could be indicative of possible collusive practices in the sector, the actual existence of collusion could only be confirmed by direct evidence, such as direct contacts between firms with the aim of setting prices or sharing markets.

Due to time constraints we were only able to conduct our analysis in one market and using only simple estimations and models of multimarket contact index. Therefore possible future extensions to this paper could include estimating the effect of the multimarket contact index in other markets, possibly taking into account both private and public markets; or to estimate the effect of multimarket contact by using more complex models, such as nested logit model used in Ciliberto and Williams (2013).

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Why Do Labels Work? – Barcelona GSE Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


Why Do Labels Work? A Theoretical Analysis and Proposed Test Design of Mechanisms Underlying Labeled Cash Transfers

Authors:

Angela Bouzanis, Victoria Gonsior, Rozália Kepes, and Eva Werli

Master Program:

Economics

Paper Abstract:

Labeled Cash Transfers (LCTs) are Unconditional Cash Transfers (UCTs) with a specific label attached stating the purpose of the cash transfer in order to guide recipients in allocating funds. Recent economic research has provided evidence for the efficiency of LCTs, but the literature is still missing theoretical foundations. In this paper, we propose four mechanisms based on behavioral economics that have the potential to explain why LCTs work. We construct a theoretical framework for designing labels based on (1) mental accounting, (2) lying aversion, (3) social norms, and (4) informational updates. Additionally, we put forward a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with four treatments according to these four theories in order to test which of these mechanisms have a significant effect on educational outcomes. While at this stage we cannot analyze results, we present our identification strategy and address some general issues and specific concerns regarding our experiment.

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Developing a Fairtrade Cocoa Sector in Nicaragua – Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.

Photo credit: X. Scheldemann/Bioversity International
Photo credit: X. Scheldemann/Bioversity International

 Developing a Fairtrade Cocoa Sector in Nicaragua

Authors:

Giuliano J. Bandeen, Armen Khederlarian, Edmund Moshammer, Tommaso Operto, and Christoph Sponsel

Master Program:

International Trade, Finance and Development

Project Summary:

This is a policy proposal directed at the Government of Nicaragua. Nicaragua’s cocoa industry achieves a very low export unit value in comparison to global competitors in West Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. Given the promising prospective growth of the cocoa world market and the higher price paid for Fairtrade cocoa, the aim of the present policy memo is to examine whether Nicaragua could benefit if farmers were to switch to certified cocoa production standards. We show that under perfect market conditions this would indeed result in higher profits. However we also identify that there are currently several obstacles preventing farmers from switching. These obstacles include minimum quantity requirements of international buyers, price information asymmetries, a low negotiation power in the supply chain, and financial and technological constraints. We propose three policies targeting these obstacles which consist of a provision of storage facilities, a credit guarantee and an educational campaign. All of them rely on group forming of farmers with mutual liability agreements.

Comparing the net present value profit of selling conventional cocoa with an investment in our proposed policies, which allows selling Fairtrade cocoa, we calculate an internal rate of return. This rate varies between both potential clients, European chocolate manufacturers Ritter Sport and Zotter and is 129% and 20% respectively. This hence encourages our policy proposal. By comparing different scenarios of government intervention we find that the highest average welfare gain results from an intermediate level of intervention. In this scenario the government would pay for warehouse construction and an educational campaign, and would provide a credit line guarantee to avoid that cooperatives pay a high risk premium. Additionally we include several robustness checks where we allow for changes in investment horizon, fertilizer effectiveness, government interest rate, farmers’ risk premium and most importantly international cocoa prices. We show that implementing our policies promises high potential gains from switching for individual farmers and the entire economy under a wide range of scenarios.

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Interest rates after the credit crunch crisis: single versus multiple curve approach

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


Interest rates after the credit crunch crisis: single versus multiple curve approach

Authors:

Oleksandr Dmytriiev, Yining Geng, and Cem Sinan Ozturk

Master Program:

Finance

Paper Abstract:

For interest rate derivative pricing, 2007 crisis was a turning point. Prior to the crisis, market interest rates showed consistencies that allowed the use of a single curve for both forwarding and discounting. After the crisis, the inconsistencies in the market interest rates led to development of a new method of the pricing interest rate derivatives, which is called Multi-Curve Framework. We studied the influence of the multi-curve approach on the interest rate derivative pricing. We calculated and compared the price of a simple swap in both multi-curve and single curve approaches. We suggested the generalization of the lattice approach, which is usually used to approximate the short interest rate models, for milti-curve framework. This is a novel result, which have not been developed in the scientific literature. As an example, we showed how to use the Black-Derman-Toy interest rate model on binomial lattice in multi-curve framework and calculated the price of the 2-8 period swaption in a single (LIBOR) curve and two-curve (OIS+LIBOR) approaches. This technique can be used for pricing any interest rate instrument.

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Hate is in the air: The effect of Czech and German radio on elections in pre-war Czechoslovakia

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The project is a required component of every master program.


Hate is in the air: The effect of Czech and German radio on elections in pre-war Czechoslovakia

Authors:

Bruno Baránek, Kryštof Krotil, and Samuel Škoda

Master Program:

Economics

Paper Abstract:

In this paper we assess the role of radio broadcasting in parliamentary elections of 1935 in Czechoslovakia. In our main specification, we regress the vote shares of multiple parties on the signal strengths of Czech and German radio while controlling for demographic and socio-economic characteristics. In particular, we focus on SdP – the ethnic German party with separatist tendencies, which was supported by Hitler’s NSDAP. We find that propaganda contained in the German broadcasts had a polarizing effect on the Czechoslovak political spectrum as it increased the number of votes for SdP and also for Czech communists and nationalists. This increase was compensated by the fall in votes for centrist democratic parties. On the other hand, the Czech radio, which was politically neutral, tended to neutralize the effect of the German radio.

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ECB Outright Monetary Transactions – Master Projects 2014

Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series that will showcase Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2014. The master project is a required component of every master program.


 An Evaluation of the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions

Authors:

Madalen Castells, Alexandros Georgakopoulos, Edgar Giménez Trill, Jesse Lastunen, and Karolos Lymperakis-Pitas

Master Program:

International Trade, Finance and Development

Project Summary:

Since early 2009, the euro crisis has influenced most countries of the European Monetary Union (EMU), contributing to persistent low economic growth, high unemployment, steeply rising public financial costs and several problems with the region’s banks. As a result, a wide variety of policy measures have been adopted to address these problems. The central actors have included not only individual member states but also the European Central Bank (ECB), European Commission (EC) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

While the success of many of the policies in recent years have been contested by different parties, the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) program initiated in the summer of 2012 has been widely welcomed. Our paper attempts to understand and investigate OMT’s claimed success, motivated especially by the recent efforts to discontinue the policy. The implications with regard to the continuation of the program are potentially enormous, both economically and in terms of the social welfare of European citizens. Altogether, our motivation stems from the catastrophic consequences of the crisis, mixed success of most mid-crisis policy responses, and the uncertain destiny of OMT – perhaps one of the most crucial policy initiatives adopted in Europe after 2008.

Our research questions build on the uncertain contribution of OMT to the declining bond spreads in the peripheral euro nations. We ask whether OMT was responsible for the decline in their spreads after mid-2012, why this might be the case, and whether the policy can be successful in the future. The underlying policy question is simply whether European legislators should resume OMT. Our study is based on two steps: we first examine the ”theory and practice” of the program, also conducting a compact literature survey on other research studying its effectiveness, and then turn to quantitative methods. Our quantitative analysis consists of a regression study and the application of the synthetic control method to examine OMT’s effect on declining bond spreads in the periphery. In the process, we also analyze the nature and dynamics of the post-Lehman hikes in peripheral bond spreads.

Our results suggest, firstly, that the post-Lehman takeoff in sovereign bond spreads in the periphery was largely induced by fears of sovereign default that were separated from ”normal” associations between spreads and economic fundamentals. In particular, the synthetic control countries we construct based on spread determinants in the peripheral countries do not experience any such increases in their spreads. Our regression analysis also indicates that the mid-crisis evolution of peripheral spreads differs strikingly from the values predicted based on the stable period between 2000 and 2008. Furthermore, countries outside the periphery do not suffer from the pronounced association between spreads and fundamentals.

Secondly we find that OMT was very likely to be responsible for the rapid decline in peripheral spreads after mid-2012. The synthetic control countries we construct are not significantly affected by OMT, and some actually experience slight upward trends in their spreads after the policy is announced. The method lends strong support to OMT’s role in the declines in peripheral spreads. Similarly, the regression analysis suggests that post-OMT trends in spreads approach the stable values predicted based on the pre-crisis period. In most peripheral countries, OMT also breaks up the upward trend predicted based on the period before OMT.

Our results broadly validate earlier studies by Krishnamurthy et. al (2013) and Altavilla et al. (2014) regarding OMT’s effect, and Arghyrou and Kontonikas (2011), De Grauwe and Yi (2012) and Di Cesare et al. (2012) regarding the panic-driven nature of the increased peripheral bond spreads during the crisis. Although we consider that further research regarding the suggested long-term costs of OMT is needed, we strongly believe that the benefits of the policy outweigh the hypothetical concerns, and OMT should therefore be resumed by European policymakers. In particular, OMT had the intended effect of reducing bond spreads and stabilizing monetary policy in the European Monetary Union, and there is no indication that actually implementing bond purchases through the program will be necessary.

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