The Impact of Regional Isolationism: Disentangling Real and Financial Factors
Recently, there is a pressure for isolation policies both within the United States and among the EU members. The pressure arises due not only to the difference between regions in the U.S. and/or countries in the EU, but also to the difference across their population which affect the gains and losses from economic integration, both real as from trade in a common market and financial as in a monetary financial union. To get a better understanding of this pressure, one would need a model of trade and capital flows that takes into account the difference between individuals in a region and differences across regions. There is also a need for detail data at the individual and aggregated level, which often are not available. In this paper, we use unique long-panel data of households in Thailand, and from these data, we construct the household financial accounts, the village economic accounts, and the village balance of payments account. We also provide stylized facts on factor prices, factor intensities, financial obstacles, and village openness document differences across regions. Finally at the national level it is clear there is co-mingled variation in trade via devaluations and in finance via policies toward off shore bank and within-country financial infrastructure.
We develop a heterogeneous-agent/occupational-choices/trade model with financial frictions carefully built up and calibrated around micro and regional facts, that is, at both the individual level and the aggregate level. Then, we conduct two counterfactual policy experiments. In the first counterfactual experiment, we distinguish the effects of trade from the effects of capital flows. More specifically, we determine what would happen if we allow the prices of goods to change as in baseline scenario while keep borrowing limits and interest rates constant, and vice versa. In the second counterfactual experiment, we determine the effect of isolation policies that impede trade and/or capital flows across regions. We find through these counterfactual experiments that both real and financial factors are at play, that there are differences across regions in impact even when (policy) movements in variables such as interest rates and relative prices, which are exogenous to the regions, are common; impacts can be large, and vary with policy; and impacts are significant heterogeneous with both gains and losses and non-monotone movement across wealth classes and occupations, even allowing for occupation shifts which apriori might have mitigated impact.
Foreign Exchange Order Flows and the Thai Exchange Rate Dynamics
Applying the microstructure approach to exchange rates, this paper aims to shed light on the price formation process in the Thai foreign exchange market using a unique supervisory dataset of daily foreign exchange transactions from all licensed dealers in Thailand. We examine the main drivers of different types of order flows and the effect of resident and non-resident customer order flows on the Thai exchange rate. The results suggest that non-resident order flows have an important influence on movements in the Thai baht, while resident order flows do not. Regarding investors’ trading behavior, we find that non-resident order flows are driven by both fundamentals and movements of the Thai baht. Specifically, non-resident players appear to be ‘trend-followers’ with regard to exchange rate returns, exerting buying pressure when the baht recently appreciated. In contrast, domestic players tend to behave as ‘contrarians’, by buying the Thai baht after it depreciates.
The Journey to Less-Cash Society: Thailand’s Payment System at a Crossroads
Digital technology is changing the way we transact and pay each other, but cash usage remains dominant in many countries. In Thailand, it remains a question whether and to what extent electronic payments (e-payment) can replace cash. What is the role of a central bank amid challenges and opportunities at this crossroads? The paper explores global trends in cash and e-payment and outlines Thailand’s existing retail payment landscape. Both physical and IT/ICT infrastructure are assessed at micro-level with regard to Thailand’s readiness to move away from cash. However, given coexistence of cash and e-payment at present, we explore ways in which efficiency of cash management process can be improved. Data on cash distribution by geographical area are utilized to illustrate usage of Thai consumers and identify costs and inefficiency associated with cash management. On the other hand, adoption of e-payment can play a critical role in moving toward a less-cash society, if not a cashless one. The paper highlights the latest data on e-payment behavior in Thailand, especially PromptPay transactions as well as mobile/internet transactions after the transfer fee reduction in March 2018.
Institutional Capital Allocation and Equity Returns: Evidence from Thai Mutual Funds’ Holdings
Information about mutual funds’ stock holdings can provide useful signal for investors. In this study, we show that portfolio of stocks that are not favored by mutual funds tend to perform poorly, with monthly returns of 0.38% to 0.82% lower than stocks more widely held. When compared against asset pricing models, portfolio of such stocks can have monthly alphas as low as -0.33%, and the reason seems unrelated to stock-picking ability. One possible explanation is that demand from institutional investors can drive up stock prices, highlighting the importance of investor clientele in emerging market asset pricing.
Chasing Returns with High-Beta Stocks
One of the proposed explanations for the low-beta anomaly – a prevalent yet puzzling empirical finding that stocks with low systematic risk tend to earn higher returns than the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) predicts and vice versa – is that leveraged-constrained and index-benchmarked mutual funds drive up demand for high-beta stocks, leading to systematic mispricing. We find evidence that Thai mutual fund managers, on average, favor high-beta stocks and tend to alter their portfolio composition of high-beta stocks in response to fund flows. In addition, funds that hold high-beta stocks perform poorly compared to their peers: a one standard deviation increase in high-beta stock holdings is associated with a 1.3 percentage point decrease in future relative returns.
Value Investing with Quality in the US Public Insurance Companies
This study explores the value investing strategy coupling with quality metrics for the U.S. insurance industry. It uses apparent measures of insurance company efficiency such as loss ratio, expense ratio, combined ratio, and investment yield to construct portfolios. There are evidences of value premium as measured by PB and PE ratios. It is not clear that the quality metrics can give superior returns for investors. The anomalies can partially be explained by Fama-French five-factor model (FF5)’s market factor, value factor and profitability factor. The study also proposes using a new five-factor model that changes the profitability (quality) factor slightly from the Fama-French five-factor model. The adjusted FF5 “local” using insurance local factors do not improve the ability to explain the portfolios’ returns.
The Impact of LTV policy on Bank Lending: Evidence from Disaggregate Housing Loan Data
How did the Loan-to-Value (LTV) measures aimed at increasing resilience of the banking system affect banks’ lending? This paper utilizes bank-level and contract-level data of housing credit in Thailand spanning from 2004 to 2017, and applies the panel data and probit approaches in evaluating the impact of LTV measures introduced in 2009, 2011 and 2013 on the housing loans. We find that the LTV measures had an impact on banks’ risk-taking behavior in ways consistent with the policy’s objectives. The effects manifest in a reshaping of LTV distribution of the targeted loan sector rather than a credit growth slowdown at the bank level. In addition, the size of adjustment varies across different types of banks, with stronger response from large and small banks compared with medium banks. Overall, our results suggest that certain macroprudential policies can achieve target-specific outcome, but with differential impact across banks. Nevertheless, questions remain regarding the channels through which LTV measures impact bank lending and factors underlying diverging response among banks.
Bank Profitability and Risk-Taking in a Low Interest Rate Environment: The Case of Thailand
This paper studies the effects of monetary policy on the bank profitability and risk-taking. Using banklevel and account-level data sets of Thai banks during the period 2004-2017, we find that lower interest rates tend to reduce profitability. The effect works mainly through the impact of the interest rates on bank net interest income. At the bank level we find limited evidence of increased riskiness in the overall balance sheet of Thai banks when interest rates are low. However, the account-level results from a duration analysis suggest that low rates may lead to higher loan default risk and lower loan quality for long-term loans, particularly those in the portfolio of small and medium banks. Small firms seem to be more affected by bank risk-taking behavior. We also find that when the interest rate remains low for a protracted period, this tends to further increase bank risk-taking in new loans, though it helps lower the default risk for existing loans. The findings overall point to the potential unintended consequences of a low-for-long monetary policy accommodation with implications on financial stability.
A Microscopic View of Thailand’s Foreign Exchange Market: Players, Activities, and Networks
This paper explores Thailand’s foreign exchange (FX) market landscape by utilizing the Bank of Thailand’s supervisory Financial Market Statistics (FMST) data which covers the universe of onshore foreign exchange transactions in Thailand. Historical developments regarding different groups of market players and the use of foreign exchange instruments, as well as the overall market structure are documented. Through the lens of network analysis, we also provide topological descriptions of Thailand’s FX market landscape, with applications on interbank network stability. We observe low degree of concentration among the dealer banks in terms of market turnover share. In contrast, from a customer’s perspective, market share is highly concentrated within a handful of large FX customers. The network connectivity among different groups of players suggests that the Thai FX market is one that is rather segmented and clustered among similar players. A substantial degree of specialization is evident across banks in terms of FX instruments and market segments, both in the interbank network and in the retail market. Probing into the interbank network stability, we find a small subset of banks to be truly central to the FX market network, though the system appears to hold up well in stress times supported by fluidity among interbank players.
Dynamic Connectedness in Emerging Asian Equity Markets
This paper examines dynamic connectedness among emerging Asian equity markets as well as explores their linkages vis-à-vis other major global markets. We find that international equity markets are tightly integrated. Measuring connectedness based on a generalized Vector Autoregressive model, more than half of all total forecast error variance in equity return and volatility shocks come from other markets as opposed to country own shocks. When examining the degree of connectedness over time, we find that international stock markets have become increasingly connected, with a gentle upward trend since the Asian financial crisis but with a rapid burst during the global financial crisis. Despite the growing importance of Asian emerging markets in the world economy, we find that their influence on advanced economies is still relatively small, with no significant increase over time. During the past decade, advanced markets have been consistently net transmitters of shocks while emerging Asian markets act as net receivers. Based on the nature of equity shock spillovers, we also find that advanced countries are still tightly connected amongst themselves while intraregional connectedness within Asia remains strong. By investigating whether uncertainty plays an important role in explaining the degree of stock market connectedness, we find that economic policy uncertainty from the US is an important source of financial shock spillover for the majority of international equity markets. In contrast, US financial market uncertainty as proxied by the VIX index drives equity market spillovers only among advanced economies.