Category Archives: MFin

What is helicopter money?

The possibility that central banks might resort to extreme monetary measures, including helicopter money, is much debated in monetary policy circles. But what is “helicopter money”? * In normal times, central banks in developed countries try to control inflation and the level of economic activity by controlling the short term interest rate. But since the… Continue Reading

Classifying funds: the type of contract – is it equity or debt?

Another way to classify funds that are provided by a saver to an investor is whether they are in the form of debt or equity. These are the two main forms of contract through which one person or company can provide funding to another. Note that governments, which are very important actors in the financial system, can only… Continue Reading

Key financial concepts: securities

Securities are a very important and useful piece of financial technology, including bank notes, shares and bonds. They make possible a wide range of financial transactions and provide competition to the other main source of funding, banks. * A security is a certificate representing a contract between two or more people which promises to pay… Continue Reading

Key finance concepts: exchange rates

Exchange rates are among the most important macrofinancial prices, influencing many aspects of an economy. This post introduces exchange rates and their importance for macroeconomic adjustment * What is an exchange rate? An exchange rate is a ratio, the price of one currency relative to another. All prices are ratios, but normally they’re expressed in… Continue Reading

Davie Bowie innovated in finance too

David Bowie, among his many other creative achievements, was an innovator in finance, with the first ever intellectual property rights securitisation. * Nearly everyone seems to have been affected by the death of David Bowie, a uniquely creative and influential musical artist. I’ll add my own personal memories to the list. I think the first… Continue Reading

The IMF includes the RMB in the SDR basket

On 30 November 2015 the IMF voted to include the RMB (the Chinese “people’s currency” denominated in yuan) in the basket of currencies it uses to calculate the value of the Special Drawing Rights, from October 2016. This is largely symbolic but should encourage further international financial reform in China. * What does it actually… Continue Reading

The true story of the Euro crisis

Most economist agree on the causes of the repeated crises of the Eurozone but that explanation is not the one that many governments, and the European Commission, want you to believe. * The problems of the Eurozone – bank failures, sovereign debt crises and bailouts and above all a protracted recession and mass unemployment –… Continue Reading

Changes in the Federal Reserve’s measurement of short term interest rates

The Federal Reserve, the US central bank, is making some changes to the measurement and monitoring of the short term interest rate between banks, which is its key target for monetary policy, * Most central banks have goals such as low inflation and high employment. After experimenting over the years with tools to achieve these goals, most… Continue Reading

Cash remains king

Despite the increasing ease of electronic payments, cash remains popular in the UK, according to the Bank of England. * Money is anything that fulfils the three functions of money: i) a means of payment; ii) a unit of account; and iii) a store of wealth. Physical cash does all of these rather well and… Continue Reading