Stefan Angrick

When analysing time series data I often draw on a small set of R helper functions to quickly visualise information using the excellent plotly package. The code creates interactive charts that allow the user to selectively display series and switch between transformations (level, quarterly and annual growth rates). I recently decided to put the code up online to make these functions available to others. This post provides a quick run-down of how these functions work.px.gif

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I spend a lot of time looking at how the Bank of Japan (BOJ) manages financial institutions' current account balances, more commonly known as “reserves”. The amount and price of reserves influence financial institutions' net income, so discussions on the BOJ's monetary policy options often look at how these could be tweaked (see these papers here for background). RStudio's Shiny package offers a powerful tool to support the process.px.gif

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Sometimes I need to get a quick overview of a large amount of data for a specific economy, and the task of extracting the relevant information separately from different data sets can be tedious. This is particularly true in cases where I have custom charts I want to replicate for a new economy, which for me tends to happen especially with data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). So when I recently came across the BIS package for R, which provides an R interface to access BIS data, I thought what better time than to automate some of this using R markdown and flexdashboard.px.gif

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When the European Central Bank held its annual Forum on Central Banking in Sintra, Portugal, earlier this year, one contribution to the Young Economists' Session caught my eye: Cían Allen's research on current accounts and sectoral balances. His paper prompted me to dig up some code I had written during my own dissertation to quickly assemble sectoral balances data for a number of economies and update it with some additional data for the US and Japan.px.gif

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After looking at the US Fed's and the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) balance sheets a while ago, it seemed logical to also dig a bit deeper into the balance sheets of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BOE). After all, these four are the principal central banks that have engaged in some form of quantitative easing, so looking at their balance sheets should bring to light some interesting similarities and differences.px.gif

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Five years have passed since the Bank of Japan (BOJ), the central bank of Japan, adopted its quantitative and qualitative easing (QQE) programme in April 2013 under Governor Kuroda. After taking a closer look at the US Fed's balance sheet a few weeks ago, I decided to adapt the process for the BOJ's balance sheet, to see what we can learn.px.gif

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Ten years ago, the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, launched the first of several rounds of Quantitative Easing in response to the Global Financial Crisis, which drastically increased the size of its balance sheet. Since then, the Fed has been looking to roll back this expansion in an effort to “normalise” monetary policy. A good time to take a closer look.px.gif

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Mozilla's Thunderbird email client is a great piece of software with a great community behind it. One of the things that did not work well for me out of the box, though, is the small default font size in Thunderbird, which creates problems on high-res “Retina” displays. Here is how you adjust the defaults.px.gif

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If you frequently work with text documents created on Windows, you will most likely have come across Calibri and Cambria, the “new” default fonts on Microsoft Office since version 2007. Both fonts are TrueType typefaces, so if you have access to the original .ttf/.ttc files (e.g. from an Office license), using them on a Linux distribution is fairly straightforward. One issue that pops up often when using the original fonts, though, is bad rendering. Certain characters might appear stronger than others, which can be quite distracting. The reason is that Microsoft apparently decided to embed surprisingly bad bitmaps in their fonts. Fortunately, you can tell your system not to use embedded bitmaps. Here is how.px.gif

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A common approach to comparing financial systems across countries is by looking at the role banks play in providing the real economy with credit. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has great data sets on measures of credit across countries that make it very easy to do such a comparison. Plotting the share of bank credit relative to total credit across time reveals some interesting patterns.px.gif

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