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Theses Doctoral

Essays on International Economics

Zhou, Jing

The three chapters of my dissertation study the macroeconomics and firm dynamics under financial frictions and institutional frictions. They contain both theoretical and empirical analysis with a special emphasis on the scope of the open economy and the implications on policy. Chapter 1 presents a theoretical framework to study the debt portfolio choice and optimal capital control policy in an open economy with financial frictions. I extend the model of international borrowing with collateral constraint to allow for multiple debt maturities. As in the single-maturity version of the model, the equilibrium exhibits overborrowing because, due to a pecuniary externality, private agents undervalue the cost of financial liabilities that demand repayment in future constrained states. I show that in the multiple-maturity model overborrowing in short-term debt is especially severe because the repayment of short-term liabilities is larger than that of long-term liabilities in future constrained states, resulting in greater cost undervaluation of short-term financial obligations. To counteract these inefficiencies, the model justifies a set of maturity-dependent capital controls. The model predicts a tightening of capital controls tilted toward short maturities during financial crises. When calibrated to Argentine data, the model reproduces the observed dynamics of debt portfolios, and the short-term targeting of capital controls during crises. The optimal capital-control policy reduces the frequency of crises by half and generates sizable welfare improvements. Motivated by the policy implications of Chapter 1, the second chapter of my dissertation presents an empirical study of how capital control policies are implemented in financial crises. I construct a novel measure of capital control stringency and establish three stylized facts about the capital control changes around banking crisis. First, capital control policies do not show significant changes until the onset of financial crisis (procyclicality). Second, not only outflow controls but also inflow controls are strengthened upon the arrival of financial crisis (dual tightening). Third, inflow controls show strong emphasis towards curbing short-term flows, while outflow controls are generally enhanced with respect to a wide range of flows regardless of their maturities (short-term maturity targeting). These patterns are robust to countries with different economy stances, external indebtedness, exchange-rate regimes and capital control levels. Besides the financial frictions, the institutional frictions also play important roles in the external finance. Therefore, the third chapter of my dissertation examines the role of public governance quality in determining the composition of a country's external liabilities and the capital structure of firms. In this joint work with Shang-Jin Wei, we first build a model with firm heterogeneity to show that better institutional quality tends to promote a higher share of foreign direct investment and equity investment in total foreign liabilities, and a higher share of long-term debt within the debt/loan category. Similar prediction holds for the capital structure of firms. We then conduct extensive empirical investigation by exploring both firm-level data and country-level data and find supportive evidence for these predictions.

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Academic Units
Economics
Thesis Advisors
Uribe, Martin
Wei, Shang-Jin
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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