Working Papers

The aim of the Working Papers series is to disseminate research papers on economics and finances by Banco de España researchers. The Working Papers are published once they have successfully come through an anonymous evaluation process. Through their publication, the Banco de España seeks to contribute to the economic analysis and knowledge of the Spanish economy and its international context.

The opinions and analyses published in the Working Papers series are the responsibility of the authors and are not necessarily shared by the Banco de España or the Eurosystem.

All documents published in this collection are available in electronic format. If they are not directly available through this website, copies can be requested from the Publications Unit.

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  • 18/04/2022
    2215. Application of machine learning models and interpretability techniques to identify the determinants of the price of bitcoin (1 MB) José Manuel Carbó and Sergio Gorjón

    So-called cryptocurrencies are becoming more popular by the day, with a total market capitalization that exceeded $3 trillion at its peak in 2021. Bitcoin has emerged as the most popular among them, with a total valuation that reached an all-time high of $68,000 in November 2021. However, its price has historically been subject to large and abrupt fluctuations, as the sudden drop in the months that followed once again proved. Since bitcoin looks all set to continue growing while largely concentrating its activity in unregulated environments, concerns have been raised among authorities all over the world about its potential impact on financial stability, monetary policy, and the integrity of the financial system. As a result, building a sound and proper regulatory and supervisory framework to address these challenges hinges upon achieving a better understanding of both the critical underlying factors that influence the formation of bitcoin prices and the stability of such factors over time. In this article we analyse which variables determine the price at which bitcoin is traded on the most relevant exchanges. To this end, we use a flexible machine learning model, specifically a Long Short Term Memory (LSTM) neural network, to establish the price of bitcoin as a function of a number of economic, technological and investor attention variables. Our LSTM model replicates reasonably well the behaviour of the price of bitcoin over different periods of time. We then use an interpretability technique known as SHAP to understand which features most influence the LSTM outcome. We conclude that the importance of the different variables in bitcoin price formation changes substantially over the period analysed. Moreover, we find that not only does their influence vary, but also that new explanatory factors often seem to appear over time that, at least for the most part, were initially unknown.

  • 29/03/2022
    2214. Asset Holdings, Information Aggregation in Secondary Markets and Credit Cycles (1 MB) Henrique Basso

    Imperfect information aggregation in secondary credit markets has significant consequences for economic cycles. As banks put more weight on mark-to-market gains, they find it optimal to refrain from revealing information about adverse shocks. Consequently, default risk is mispriced, and loan volumes, and thus investment, are not appropriately reduced. Overinvestment lowers the price of capital, leading households to increase consumption without decreasing labour supply, generating a boom. Due to mispricing, banks subsequently face bigger losses and capital depletion. Output then decreases sharply due to credit supply shortages. In a model calibrated to the US economy, these instances of market dysfunction are crucial in amplifying credit cycles.

  • 28/03/2022
    2213. The propagation of worldwide sector-specific shocks (2 MB) Mario Izquierdo, Enrique Moral-Benito, Elvira Prades and Javier Quintana

    This paper analyses the aggregate impact of industry-specific shocks and their propagation through global production networks. We focus on the case in which a common shock affects simultaneously the same industry across different countries. Thus, our analysis can be a useful tool for several policy-relevant scenarios, such as changes in environmental regulations or the implementation of new technologies. For that purpose, we highlight the importance of departing from standard linear models that assume unitary elasticities of substitution. We combine a theoretical framework of production networks with arbitrary elasticities of substitution (Baqaee & Farhi, 2019) and we make use of World Input-Output Database to account for international linkages. This setting illustrates how, in the presence of production input complementarities, the interaction between simultaneous shocks has significant non-linear effects on sectoral composition and aggregate output. The aggregate impact of negative (positive) shocks gets significantly amplified (mitigated) when they affect simultaneously industries with strong production linkages. Our results show that ignoring production complementarities leads to vastly underestimating the aggregate consequences of regulatory or technological shocks in industries like chemicals or vehicle manufacturing. In contrast, simultaneous shocks to services industries are well accounted for by standard measures.

  • 24/03/2022
    2212. Uncertainty, non-linear contagion and the credit quality channel: an application to the Spanish interbank market (1 MB) Adrián Carro and Patricia Stupariu

    Using granular data from the Spanish Central Credit Register, we study the contagion of financial distress via the credit quality channel in the Spanish interbank market. We propose a non-linear contagion mechanism dependent on banks’ balance-sheet structure (specifically, their leverage ratios). Moreover, we explicitly model uncertainty in lenders’ assessments of the probability of default of their borrowers, thus incorporating agents’ lack of complete information and heterogeneous expectations in their assessment of future outcomes. We perform multiple simulations across a wide range of possible levels of stress in the system, and we focus on disentangling the effects of these two key model components by comparing the results of our model with those of a linear and deterministic counterpart. We find that non-linear contagion leads to substantially larger losses than its linear counterpart for a wide range of intermediate levels of stress in the system, while its effects become negligible for very low and very high stress levels. Regarding uncertainty, we find that its effects, while smaller than those of non-linear contagion, are nonetheless relevant and most important around levels of stress at which different parts of the system become unstable. Interestingly, losses can be amplified or mitigated with respect to the deterministic case depending on the specific level of stress considered. Finally, the interaction between these two model components - non-linear contagion and uncertainty - alters the area where uncertainty matters.

  • 03/03/2022
    2211. Dual returns to experience (2 MB) Jose Garcia-Louzao, Laura Hospido and Alessandro Ruggieri

    This paper studies how labor market duality affects human capital accumulation and the wage trajectories of young workers in Spain. Using rich administrative data, we follow workers from their entry into the labor market to measure the experience accumulated under different contractual arrangements and we estimate their wage returns. We document lower returns on experience accumulated under fixed-term contracts compared with permanent contracts and show that this difference is not due to unobserved firm heterogeneity or the quality of the matching. Instead, we provide evidence that the gap in returns is due to lower human capital accumulation while working under fixed-term contracts. This difference widens with worker skill, suggesting that experience and skill-learning are complementary. Our results suggest that the widespread use of fixed-term work arrangements reduces the skill acquisition of highly-skilled workers, holding back life-cycle wage growth by up to 16 percentage points 15 years after their entry into the labor market.

  • 14/03/2022
    2210. Fresh start policies and small business activity: evidence from a natural experiment (1 MB) Marco Celentani, Miguel García-Posada and Fernando Gómez Pomar

    There is no consensus in the academic literature on whether personal bankruptcy laws should be creditor-friendly or debtor-friendly in order to promote entrepreneurship and small business activity. This paper contributes to that literature by analyzing the effect of the introduction of a fresh start policy in Spain in 2015 on the performance of micro-firms as a natural experiment, using Spanish non-micro firms and Portuguese firms as control groups. We find that the reform substantially increased both the probability of filing for bankruptcy by Spanish micro-firms in financial distress (arguably to seek discharge of part of the firm owner’s debt) and the probability of these firms exiting the market, as the fresh start policy requires the liquidation of the debtor’s non-exempt assets. In addition, the reform increased investment and turnover in micro-firms but had no effect on their employment. Finally, the reform also promoted the creation of new micro-firms, especially those involved in innovation activities and in sectors with high productivity.

  • 09/03/2022
    2209. Thick borders in Franco’s Spain: the costs of a closed economy (1 MB) Rodolfo G. Campos, Iliana Reggio and Jacopo Timini

    Between the 1940s and 1970s, Spain used a variety of economic policies that hindered international trade. Because the mix of tariffs, quotas, administrative barriers, and exchange rate regimes varied greatly over time, the quantification of the effect of the various trade policies on international trade in this period is particularly elusive. In this paper, we use historical bilateral trade flows and a structural gravity model to quantify the evolution of Spain’s border thickness, a summary measure of its barriers to international trade. We find that Spain’s borders in the period 1948-1975 were thicker than those of any other country in Western Europe, even after the liberalization of trade that started in 1959. These comparatively higher impediments to international trade implied substantial negative effects on consumer welfare. We estimate that accumulated welfare costs over the period 1948-1975 exceed 20% of a year’s total consumption.

  • 16/03/2022
    2208. Skewed SVARs: tracking the structural sources of macroeconomic tail risks (1 MB) Carlos Montes-Galdón and Eva Ortega

    This paper proposes a vector autoregressive model with structural shocks (SVAR) that are identified using sign restrictions and whose distribution is subject to time-varying skewness. It also presents an efficient Bayesian algorithm to estimate the model. The model allows for the joint tracking of asymmetric risks to macroeconomic variables included in the SVAR. It also provides a narrative about the structural reasons for the changes over time in those risks. Using euro area data, our estimation suggests that there has been a significant variation in the skewness of demand, supply and monetary policy shocks between 1999 and 2019. This variation lies behind a significant proportion of the joint dynamics of real GDP growth and inflation in the euro area over this period, and also generates important asymmetric tail risks in these macroeconomic variables. Finally, compared to the literature on growth- and inflation-at-risk, we found that financial stress indicators do not suffice to explain all the macroeconomic tail risks.

  • 23/03/2022
    2207. The role of a green factor in stock prices. When Fama & French go green (1 MB) Ricardo Gimeno and Clara I. González

    Concerns about climate change are now widespread, and the risks for financial assets have become more evident. Investors are increasingly aware of the need to incorporate climate-related considerations in their investment decisions. All this has had an impact on market valuations. In this paper, we extend the framework of the factor models that explain the expected return of stock models to include a climate change exposure factor. To do so, we built a portfolio that is long on companies with low carbon emissions, and short on companies with high carbon emissions. We show that this factor is relevant in the market and allows for an approximation of the climate change exposure of firms with poor disclosure of their green performance. Thus, the betas of this factor could be a useful tool for investors that wish to incorporate these aspects in the management of their portfolios and analysts interested in corporate exposure to climate change risks.

  • 07/02/2022
    2206. Financial exclusion and sovereign default: the role of official lenders (1 MB) María Bru Muñoz

    Is financial exclusion after default a relevant driver of sovereign default incentives? I find new evidence that suggests that this is not the case, and that there are substantial differences in the behavior of different lenders after a sovereign default. Private lenders tend to decrease their funding to developing countries that have defaulted to banks or to the Paris Club. But the financing from official creditors, i.e. bilateral and multilateral, remains mainly unaffected by the different sovereign defaults, only with some exceptions mostly related to defaults to multilateral lenders. This different pattern for official financing is very relevant since official loans are the main source of funds for developing economies. Official creditors continue offering funding to countries even after default, casting doubt on the relevance of one of the main assumptions in sovereign default models, the so-called financial exclusion.

  • 24/01/2022
    2205. Housing prices in Spain: convergence or decoupling? (1.000 KB) Corinna Ghirelli, Danilo Leiva-León and Alberto Urtasun

    In this article, we measure changes over time in the synchronization of housing price cycles across Spanish cities. In doing so, we rely on a regime-switching framework that identifies the housing price cycles of pairs of cities, and simultaneously infers the evolving relation between those cycles. These bilateral relationships are then summarized into an aggregate synchronization index of city-level housing cycles. The estimates suggest that Spanish housing prices have followed a convergence pattern, which picked in 2009 and slightly decreased afterwards. We also identify the cities that have been the main contributors to this convergence process. Moreover, we show that differences in population growth and economic structure are key factors to explain the evolution of housing price synchronization among Spanish cities.

  • 19/01/2022
    2204. Inequality and psychological well-being in times of COVID-19: evidence from Spain (2 MB) Monica Martinez-Bravo and Carlos Sanz

    Using two novel online surveys collected in May and November 2020, we study the consequences of the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic on Spanish households. We document a large and negative effect on household income. By May 2020 the average individual lived in a household that had lost 16% of their pre-pandemic monthly income. Furthermore, this drop was highly unequal: while households in the richest quintile lost 6.8% of their income, those in the poorest quintile lost 27%. We also document that the pandemic deepened the gender-income gap: on average, women experienced a three-percentage-point larger income loss than men. While this is consistent with previous findings in the literature, in this paper we document that this effect is driven by women from middle-income households with kids. Finally, we provide evidence that Spanish individuals experienced moderate declines in their levels of psychological well-being. This effect is not different for individuals living in rich or poor households, but the reasons behind well-being losses do differ: richer individuals are more concerned about loss of contact with dear ones, while low-income individuals are more likely to mention loss of income and employment as a key source of emotional distress.

  • 03/02/2022
    2203. Roots and Recourse Mortgages: Handing back the keys (11 MB) Jorge E. Galán, Matías Lamas and Raquel Vegas

    In this study we disentangle the effect of roots from other confounding factors to explain differences in immigrants’ outcomes in the mortgage market. Using loan-level data from the Spanish Credit Register complemented with data on securitized mortgages over a complete financial cycle, we identify that foreign-born borrowers with shallow roots to the host country pay higher mortgage rates at origination than similar debtors that are better-settled. We also find that weak roots are associated with higher default rates and with greater incentives to go into default in negative equity situations. Overall, we show that rootedness explains differential loan conditions at origination and default behavior in mortgages. From a policy perspective, our results have important implications for understanding the potential consequences of moving away from recourse mortgage regimes, and for the effectiveness of macroprudential policy.

  • 11/02/2022
    2202. La regulación sectorial en España. Resultados cuantitativos (1 MB) Juan S. Mora-Sanguinetti and Isabel Soler

    The aim of this paper is to present the results of a novel database of sectoral regulation at a disaggregated level in Spain. Objective indicators of the volume of new regulation have been constructed for 23 sectors of activity, adopted by each Autonomous Region (Comunidad Autónoma), year by year over the period 1995-2020. In total, 206,777 norms have been identified and classified. The indicators show that new sectoral regulation in Spain is increasing over time, but there are significant differences both between sectors and between Autonomous Regions. Thus, the services and agricultural sectors are relatively more frequently regulated than the industrial ones. On a temporal scale, it is possible to observe that regulators pass new regulations more frequently in downturns. This trend is particularly noticeable in 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the recreational, hospitality, commerce and textile industry sectors. These quantitative results, which are presented as a panel database, open the possibility of further studies on the impact and adequacy of the institutional framework, in particular its regulatory pillar, on elements such as sectoral value added, productivity by sector or business demographics.

  • 10/01/2022
    2201. Dampening the financial accelerator? Direct lenders and monetary policy (1 MB) Ryan Banerjee and José-María Serena

    Direct lenders, non-bank credit intermediaries with low leverage, have become increas-ingly important players in corporate loan markets. In this paper we investigate the role they play in the monetary policy transmission mechanism, using syndicated loan data covering the 2000-2018 period. We show that direct lenders are more likely to join loan syndicates whenever monetary policy announcements trigger a contraction in borrowers’ net worth irrespective of the directional change in interest rates. Thus, our findings suggest that direct lenders dampen the financial accelerator channel of monetary policy.

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