We analyze the international transmission of financial stress and its effects on global economic activity. Our analysis is based on country-specific monthly financial stress indices (FSIs) over the sample period 1970-2012 for 20 major economies. First, we show that co-movement between the FSIs increases during major financial crises and towards the end of our sample period. Second, we show that the risk of large financial stress spillovers to an economy increases with its level of economic openness.
Third, we show using a global VAR (GVAR) model that i) a financial stress shock in the US quickly transmits internationally, ii) financial stress shocks have lagged but persistent negative effcts on economic activity, and iii) that a negative US demand shock induces only limited financial stress on a global scale. Finally, we show that spillovers of financial stress run mainly from advanced to emerging economies and not in the opposite direction.