Category Archives: Finance sector

The decline in volatility: measuring risk aversion from option prices

Although the world appears a very turbulent place, financial volatility is currently rather low. How do we know this? One method widely used by commentators and market analysts is to refer to a measure of global risk aversion called the VIX. This post explains how can we infer something about market participants’ attitudes to risk, based on option pricing theory… Continue Reading

Liberalising the Chinese banking system: necessary but dangerous

I recently gave a presentation to the Cambridge China Business Network, a student club. The title is “Like dismantling a nuclear bomb: liberalising the Chinese financial system”. The slides are shown below. Summary Liberalisation of a market means removing most or all regulatory and legal restrictions on market forces. Most countries that have liberalised their financial… Continue Reading

Letter from Shenzhen

I have at last visited Shenzhen, one of China’s four first tier cities (along with Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen’s neighbour Guangzhou), as part of the Cambridge EMBA International Business Study Trip. It’s a likeable and impressive city, much greener and cleaner than Beijing and less crowded than Shanghai. It’s also the centre of the Chinese… Continue Reading

Rekindling the spirit of 1944?

The leader of one of our main international financial institutions argues that we need to remember and learn from the cooperative spirit in which the Bretton Woods international financial system was born in 1944. Unfortunately the creation and later success of that system depended on the economic and financial dominance of a single self-interested nation,… Continue Reading

The international impact of abolishing China’s capital controls

Perhaps a little lost in the Christmas shopping rush was an interesting article in the 2013 Q4 Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin about what might happen when China finally abolishes all controls on its international capital flows, consistent with its stated policy goals. China has already had a very large impact on the international financial… Continue Reading

The central importance of housing to the British financial system

In Britain we seem to have a love affair with the property market. Home ownership is 69%, not especially high, but average house prices are a constant topic of discussion, mainly because property in the prosperous south east of  the UK (including Cambridge) is very expensive. The latest Bank of England Financial Stability Report shows… Continue Reading

The international financial system isn’t going to be reformed any time soon

In a recent IMF working paper I came across the term “North Atlantic financial crisis”. I hadn’t heard this before and it was the first clue of several that the report was written by Indian economists with a well justified gripe about US monetary policy and the damage done by the international monetary system to… Continue Reading

Regulation leads to innovation

The Chinese government is in the process of deregulating interest rates. It took the first step in July 2013 when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) freed the banks to set the rate charged to borrowers, other than some mortgage-related restrictions. It is expected soon to stop controlling the rate paid by banks to depositors.… Continue Reading

Analysing changes in long term interest rates: the term premium in US Treasury bonds

Long term interest rates, as captured by the yield on long term US Treasury Bonds, have recently swung upwards after falling for three decades. It’s still too soon to say that the long bull market in bonds has ended, because rates could fall again, but yields are at historically low levels still so the scope… Continue Reading