Central banks today provide liquidity exclusively through purchases of (mostly) government bonds and through collateralised open-market operations. This column considers the evolution of liquidity provision by central banks over the past two centuries, and argues that there are alternative approaches to those that are focused on today. One such alternative is a revival of the 19th century practice of uncollateralised lending. This would discourage market participants from relying on informational shortcuts, and reduce the likelihood that informational shocks trigger collateral crises.
Clemens Jobst, Stefano Ugolini, Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Philippe Bacchetta, Elena Perazzi, Eric van Wincoop, Saturday, June 20, 2015
A popular explanation for the sovereign debt crisis in Europe is self-fulfilling sentiments. What can central banks do to avoid self-fulfilling debt crises? This column argues that while in theory there are policies to make the public debt sustainable, central banks cannot credibly commit to them. The ability of a central bank to avert a self-fulfilling debt crisis is thus limited.
Pierpaolo Benigno, Salvatore Nisticò, Monday, June 15, 2015
In the aftermath of the Global Crisis, many central banks have engaged in unconventional purchases of risky securities. Such operations can entail possible losses on their balance sheets. This column argues that neutrality of open-market operations holds only in specific policy regimes, such as when central banks’ losses are covered by taxes levied on the public sector. In absence of such support, losses should be resolved through a prolonged increase in inflation.
Donato Masciandaro, Davide Romelli, Sunday, April 26, 2015
In the aftermath of the Global Crisis, many countries increased their central banks’ involvement in financial supervision. This column uses a novel dataset to argue that financial crises episodes significantly increase the probability of reforms in the financial structure. More interestingly, the authors find evidence of a ‘bandwagon effect’ by showing that politicians are more likely to undertake reforms when their peers do so.
Sylvester Eijffinger, Ronald Mahieu, Louis Raes, Thursday, April 23, 2015
Classifying the preferences of members of policy committees has been a topic of intense debate and research. This column presents spatial analysis of the preferences of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members using transcripts from meetings. The results indicate that a political appointment channel was not active or effective, and there is little effect of career experiences. The overall lack of systemic preference among FOMC members is a reassuring with regard to the institutional design of the FOMC.
Charles A.E. Goodhart, Monday, March 2, 2015
Following the Warsh Review, the recording, number, and timing of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meetings will change. This column argues that the recording may make the decision meeting more formal and could inhibit debate, although the eight-year gap before publishing transcripts ameliorates this concern. Having fewer MPC meetings is a good thing, and reduces ‘noise’ around monetary policy. The revised meeting schedule will not add to transparency and raises the risk of leaks and ‘news shocks’.
Philippe Karam, Ouarda Merrouche, Moez Souissi, Rima Turk, Monday, February 2, 2015
In the wake of the Crisis, policymakers have introduced liquidity regulation to promote the resilience of banks and lower the social cost of crisis management. This column shows that a funding liquidity shock, manifested as lower access to wholesale sources of funding following a credit rating downgrade, translates into a significant decline in both domestic and foreign lending. Liquidity self-insurance by banks mitigates the impact of a credit rating downgrade on lending.
Jon Danielsson, Sunday, January 18, 2015
The Swiss central bank last week abandoned its euro exchange rate ceiling. This column argues that the fallout from the decision demonstrates the inherent weaknesses of the regulator-approved standard risk models used in financial institutions. These models under-forecast risk before the announcement and over-forecast risk after the announcement, getting it wrong in all states of the world.
Jean-Pierre Landau, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Eurozone inflation has been persistently declining for almost a year, and constantly undershooting forecasts. Building on existing research, this column explores the conjecture that low inflation in the Eurozone results from an excess demand for safe assets. If true, this conjecture would have definite policy implications. Getting out of such a ‘safety trap’ would necessitate fiscal or non-conventional monetary policies tailored to temporarily take risk away from private balance sheets.
Morris Goldstein, Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Results from last month’s EU-wide stress test are reassuring, especially for countries at Europe’s core. This column warns against a rosy interpretation. The test relies on risk-weighted measures of bank capital ratios that have been shown to be less predictive of bank failure than unweighted leverage ratios – a metric already adopted by the US Fed and Bank of England. In addition, many experts recommend much higher leverage ratios than currently required. The ECB must do more to fix undercapitalisation.
David Miles, Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Many central banks embrace forward guidance by announcing expected interest rate paths. But how likely it is that actual rates will be close to expected ones? This column argues that quantifying such uncertainty poses great difficulties. Precise probability statements in a world of uncertainty (not just risk) can be misleading. It might be better to rely on qualitative guidance such as: “Interest rate rises will probably be gradual and likely to be to a level below the old normal”.
Christian Daude, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Monday, September 1, 2014
Central banks’ exchange rate interventions are typically attributed to precautionary, prudential, or mercantilist motives. This column documents the prevalence of an alternative motive – that of stabilising the exchange rate – in emerging markets, where, despite heavy intervention, the Global Crisis saw important deviations of the real exchange rate from its equilibrium value. Exchange rate intervention is shown to be effective, but more so at containing appreciations than depreciations.
Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur, Angelo Riva, Eugene N. White, Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The key challenge for lenders of last resort is to ameliorate financial crises without encouraging excessive risk-taking. This column discusses the lessons from the Banque de France’s successful handling of the crisis of 1889. Recognising its systemic importance, the Banque provided an emergency loan to the insolvent Comptoir d’Escompte. Banks that shared responsibility for the crisis were forced to guarantee the losses, which were ultimately recouped by large fines – notably on the Comptoir’s board of directors. This appears to have reduced moral hazard – there were no financial crises in France for 25 years.
Michael Bordo, Friday, March 21, 2014
Since 2007, there has been a buildup of TARGET imbalances within the Eurosystem – growing liabilities of national central banks in the periphery matched by growing claims of central banks in the core. This column argues that, rather than signalling the collapse of the monetary system – as was the case for Bretton Woods between 1968 and 1971 – these TARGET imbalances represent a successful institutional innovation that prevented a repeat of the US payments crisis of 1933.
Donato Masciandaro, Francesco Passarelli, Saturday, December 21, 2013
During the Great Moderation, central banks focused on price stability, and independence was seen as crucial to limit inflation bias. Since the Global Financial Crisis, emergency support measures for banks, and central banks’ increasing involvement in supervision, have called central bank independence into question. This column argues that the literature has overlooked the distributional effects of the tradeoff between monetary and financial stability. In a political economy framework, heterogeneity in voters’ portfolios can cause the degree of central bank independence to differ from the social optimum.
The Editors, Friday, December 20, 2013
Maintaining financial stability is a major concern and central banks have been increasingly involved in assuring it. This column introduces a CEPR Policy Insight written by Italy’s central bank governor on the post-Crisis role of central banks in financial regulation and supervision.
Harold James, Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The global nature of the recent financial crisis required a coordinated response from central banks. After the fall of Lehman Brothers, several of them simultaneously reduced their policy rates, and the Fed extended dollar swap lines to its overseas counterparts. However, the second phase of the crisis has put increasing strain on international cooperation. This column presents two explanations. First, the Eurozone crisis threatens the solvency of governments, thus creating conflict over who will pay the costs of maintaining financial stability. Second, unconventional monetary policy has had spillover effects in developing countries.
Espen Henriksen, Finn Kydland, Roman Šustek, Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The monetary policy for Eurozone members is one-size-fits-all in an economic area rife with economic differences. Does this really make a difference? This column argues that even if each EZ member state had a fully independent monetary authority, monetary policies would likely still appear highly synchronised across EZ members.
Márcio Garcia, Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The recent reversal of capital flows to emerging markets raises the question of whether and how to intervene in currency markets. Brazil’s central bank has intervened heavily, spending more than $50 billion and promising to double that by the end of the year. However, almost all of that intervention has taken place in onshore derivative markets that settle in real. This column argues that such interventions can be effective, but that central banks must stand ready to use their foreign-exchange reserves if necessary.
Spencer Dale, James Talbot, Friday, September 13, 2013
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has recently provided some explicit forward guidance regarding the future conduct of monetary policy in the UK. This column by the Bank's Chief economist explains how the MPC designed its forward guidance to respond to the unprecedented challenges facing the UK economy and argues that forward guidance allows the MPC to explore the scope for economic expansion without putting price and financial stability at risk.