Following the financial crisis, the EU banking system is still plagued by widespread fragilities. This column considers the tools and legal provisions available to EU policymakers to address moral hazard and incentives encouraging excessive risk-taking by bankers. It argues that the new discipline of state aid and the restructuring of banks provide a solid framework towards these ends. However, the application of new rules should not lose sight of the aggregate policy needs of the banking system.
Stefano Micossi, Ginevra Bruzzone, Miriam Cassella, 06 June 2016
Mark Cliffe, 19 May 2016
The idea that the global economy has entered a low-growth equilibrium appears to have gained acceptance. This column argues that this ‘New Normal’ never was, isn’t, and should be replaced by the ‘New Abnormal’. Far from being an equilibrium, the low growth recorded in the West since the nadir of the financial crisis in 2009 has only been achieved by progressively more aggressive and unprecedented monetary policy actions in response to a series of panic attacks in the financial markets. The aftershocks of the crisis are colliding with a series of structural changes which leave the global economy in a state of latent instability.
Jason Furman, Jay Shambaugh, 29 April 2016
In terms of GDP and unemployment, the US’s recovery from the crisis was relatively rapid. This was in large part due to forceful fiscal policy conducted by the Obama Administration. This column surveys the lessons for other economies, which have seen less-convincing recoveries. Around the world, increased spending and tax cuts over the last eight years have had positive effects. Continuing recovery will require concerted action in these directions.
Alex Cukierman, 16 April 2016
Both the US and the Eurozone reacted to the Global Crisis by injecting liquidity and loosening monetary policy. This column argues that despite the similarities in the behaviour of bank credit, the behaviour of bank reserves has been quite different. In particular, while US bank reserves have been on an uninterrupted upward trend since Lehman’s collapse, EZ bank reserves have fluctuated markedly in both directions. At the source, this is due to differences in the liquidity injections procedures between the Eurozone and the Fed.
Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, 08 April 2016
The euro is unique in that it is a currency without a sovereign. Since the crisis, there have been major developments towards making the Eurozone more resilient, including the banking union and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). This column, originally published 12 February 2016, explores whether further normalisation is required to make the Eurozone function properly. It argues that the Eurozone, unlike existing federations, lacks the ability to deliver counter-cyclical fiscal policies while complying with fiscal discipline. Macroeconomic coordination will thus require rules, a strong and independent European Fiscal Board, and the strengthening of the ESM.
Thorsten Beck, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Refet Gürkaynak, Andrea Ichino, 10 February 2016
The Global Crisis was a watershed, not just for economies around the world, but for economics as a discipline. This column introduces a special issue of Economic Policy that collects key papers on the Global Crisis published in its aftermath between 2009 and 2014. The papers chart the evolution of economists’ thinking on the causes of and cures for the Global and EZ Crises.
Thomas Hintermaier, Winfried Koeniger, 09 January 2016
Crises of confidence turn booms into busts. Bloated household balance sheets and high debt offer the right ingredients for a confidence-driven housing bust. This column develops an analytic framework that accommodates the potential role of confidence fluctuations as a source of uncertainty in the economy. Current debt levels are shown to determine the exposure to crises of confidence. The results point to a clear role for macroprudential policy in the prevention of such crises.
Biagio Bossone, Marco Cattaneo, 04 January 2016
‘Helicopter tax credits’ have been proposed as a means of injecting new purchasing power into the economies of Eurozone Crisis countries. This column outlines one such system for Italy. The Tax Credit Certificate system is projected to accelerate Italy’s recovery over the next four years, and will likely be sustainable. It also provides a tool to avoid the breakup of the Eurosystem and its potentially disruptive consequences.
Ángel Ubide, 09 December 2015
The diversity of European economic cycles, economic structures, and political dynamics is a strength of the Eurozone. However, sustainable arrangements are required to distribute risks and ensure that all countries can use fiscal policy to cushion economic downturns. This column proposes the creation of a system of stability bonds for the Eurozone. These could be structured to minimise moral hazard, improve governance, and ensure that fiscal policy can support growth during the next recession.
Kevin Daly, Tim Munday, 28 November 2015
The fallout from the Global Crisis and its aftermath has been deeply damaging for European output. This column uses a growth accounting framework to explore the pre-Crisis and post-Crisis growth dynamics of several European countries. The weakness of post-Crisis real GDP in the Eurozone manifested itself in a decline in employment and average hours worked. However, decomposing growth for the Eurozone as a whole conceals significant differences across European countries, in both real GDP growth and its factor inputs.
Régis Barnichon, 12 November 2015
Many commentators have noted that the US has ridden out its post-crisis malaise rather skilfully, not least when it comes to reducing unemployment. This column argues that the US unemployment rate - despite being impressive, all things considered - still has substantial room to fall because desire to work among the non-employed is close to a record low.
Jon Danielsson, Marcela Valenzuela, Ilknur Zer, 02 October 2015
Does low volatility in financial markets mean that another financial crisis is more likely? And should we be worried when everything is OK? This column presents the first empirical results that find a strong validation of Minsky's hypothesis – obtained from 200 years of historical cross-sectional data – that low volatility increases the likelihood of a future financial crisis by increasing risk-taking.
Guido Tabellini, 07 September 2015
What are the main lessons to be drawn from the European financial crisis? This column argues that the Eurozone really is at a major cross-roads. Without a common fiscal policy, and without adequate institutions for aggregate demand management, European leaders have to constantly alter the rules. Currency risk will be the major concern of financial markets, much more than in the past, due to how Europe has dealt with the Greek crisis.
Sven Langedijk, Gaëtan Nicodème, Andrea Pagano, Alessandro Rossi, 04 July 2015
Strengthening the banking sector through higher equity capital is one of the key elements of policies aiming to reduce the probability of crises. However, the ‘corporate debt bias’ – the tendency of corporate tax systems to favour debt over equity – is at odds with this objective. This column estimates the benefits for financial stability of eliminating the corporate debt bias. Fully removing the debt bias is estimated to reduce potential public finance losses by between 25 and 55% for the six large EU countries sampled.
Peter Koudijs, Joachim Voth, 12 April 2014
Human behaviour in times of financial crises is difficult to understand, but critical to policymaking. This column discusses new evidence showing that personal experience in financial markets can dramatically change risk tolerance. A cleanly identified historical episode demonstrates that even without losses, negative shocks not only modify risk appetite, but can also create ‘leverage cycles’. These, in turn, have the potential to make markets extremely fragile. Remarkably, those who witnessed this episode but were not directly threatened by it, did not change their own behaviour. Thus, personal experience can be a powerful determinant of investors’ actions and can eventually affect aggregate instability.
Volker Wieland, Christos Koulovatianos, 01 November 2011
A stock-market collapse such as the one after the 2008 Lehman Brothers default is followed by more pessimistic assessments of the likelihood of future collapses in surveys and by lower price-dividend ratios. This column argues this reaction of expectations and asset prices can be explained by Bayesian decision theory. The key is to appreciate that market participants know little about the drivers of such crashes. They revise their beliefs and learn over time.
Andrew Rose, Tomasz Wieladek, 23 May 2011
To what extent has financial nationalism changed banks' lending behaviour in the aftermath of the global crisis? The authors of CEPR DP8404 find much evidence that financial protectionism has morphed the lending practices of foreign banks in Britain since 2008. But--unexpectedly--they also find that British banks nationalised during the crisis changed their lending practices in no substantive way.
Carmen Reinhart, Kenneth Rogoff, 28 March 2011
With public debt in the US higher than it's been since 1945 and private debt burgeoning, governments are panicking about the impact of debt overhang on growth. In CEPR DP8310, Reinhart and Rogoff argue that governments have increasingly resorted to undercover restructuring by using the tools of "financial repression" that characterized the Bretton Woods era. If states continue to ignore or distort their debt problems, the authors predict, their bond markets could become ever more repressed.
Simon Evenett, 18 February 2010
The latest GTA report examines whether macroeconomic stabilisation has altered governments' resort to protectionism, with a focus on the Gulf Region.
Charles Wyplosz, 14 December 2009
Greece’s public debt is in turmoil. This column says that the country is nowhere near defaulting, but the Greek government should heed the financial markets’ warning and end three decades of fiscal profligacy. It suggests that Greece adopt immediate deep spending cuts and reform its budgetary process to credibly enforce discipline.