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At the risk of oversimplification, following the initial phase of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), advanced economies can be characterized as experiencing subpar economic growth with high public debts restraining fiscal stimulus. Facing very low inflation, monetary authorities in many countries have seen the need to introduce extraordinary measures. One visible manifestation of the unprecedented monetary policy responses is the sharp increase in the size of the balance sheets of the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, Bank of Japan and the ECB. The international repercussions of these unconventional monetary policies are not yet well understood. What are the international effects? Through what specific channels do the spillovers arise? Are the spillovers beneficial or harmful? Would there be benefits from international coordination of monetary policy? The papers in this special issue explore these and other issues related to international dimensions of conventional and unconventional monetary policy. The seven papers were selected from those presented at the ECB-IMF Conference “International dimensions of conventional and unconventional monetary policy” held in Frankfurt am Main in April 2014.
There is by now a relatively large literature measuring the cross border effects of conventional and unconventional monetary policies. This special issue contains some additional contributions to this literature, and in addition focuses on the implications for monetary policy cooperation. One key conclusion is that the desirability of cooperation is highly model specific and some potentially important shocks and propagation channels are still poorly understood. Given the state of our knowledge, it is better to be cautious before drawing policy conclusions. More research is thus needed. The special issue also touches upon the political economy and practical dimension of cooperation that are typically glossed over in the academic literature but in practice are important factors in determining whether cooperation arises or not. The complexity of cooperation from a legal and institutional point of view and differences in the understanding of the economy and propagation channels are likely to prevent cooperation outside of crisis times. In this respect, investigating simple forms of cooperation, for example through simple cooperative rules (Benigno and Benigno, 2006), seems a useful avenue for future research.