Low for how long? Estimating the ECB’s “Extended Period of Time”
Tilman Bletzinger, Volker Wieland, 5 September 2013
The ECB has promised to keep interest rates low for an “extended period of time”. In a broad hint to the profession, President Draghi stressed a reasonable forecast of this period could be extracted from a monetary policy reaction function. This column presents one such forecast based on published macro forecasts and a reaction function that fits the ECB’s past behaviour. The result is that ECB interest rates will rise by May 2014 at the latest.
The ECB Governing Council has given hints that it will keep rates low for long (see its May and June statements). On 4 July 2013, the Council went further embracing ‘forward guidance’ (Praet 2013, Woodford 2013).1
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: ECB, forecast, monetary rule
Revisiting the pain in Spain
Paul De Grauwe, 7 July 2014
There has been a stark contrast between the experiences of Spain and the UK since the Global Crisis. This column argues that although the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions policy has been instrumental in reducing Spanish government bond yields, it has not made the Spanish fiscal position sustainable. Although the UK has implemented less austerity than Spain since the start of the crisis, a large currency depreciation has helped to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio
The different macroeconomic adjustment dynamics in Spain – a member of a monetary union – and the UK – a stand-alone country – is stark. Paul Krugman popularised this contrast in his New York Times blog with the title “The Pain in Spain” (Krugman 2009, 2011), and commented on my own analysis in De Grauwe (2011).
Topics: Europe's nations and regions, Global crisis, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: austerity, currency depreciation, ECB, EMU, euro, EZ crisis, fiscal policy, government debt, monetary policy, monetary union, Outright Monetary Transactions, Spain, UK
The euro crisis: Muddling through, or on the way to a more perfect euro union?
Joshua Aizenman, 3 July 2014
After a promising first decade, the Eurozone faced a severe crisis. This column looks at the Eurozone’s short history through the lens of an evolutionary approach to forming new institutions. German dominance has allowed the euro to achieve a number of design objectives, and this may continue if Germany does not shirk its responsibilities. Germany’s resilience and dominant size within the EU may explain its ‘muddling through’ approach to the Eurozone crisis. Greater mobility of labour and lower mobility of under-regulated capital may be the costly ‘second best’ adjustment until the arrival of more mature Eurozone institutions.
The short history of the Eurozone has been remarkable and unprecedented – the euro project has moved from the planning board to a vibrant currency within less than ten years.
Topics: Institutions and economics, International finance, Monetary policy
Tags: ECB, euro, eurozone, Eurozone crisis, Germany, GIIPS, inflation targeting, institutions
Saving the euro: self-fulfilling crisis and the ‘Draghi put’
Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang, 26 June 2014
Like banks, indebted governments can be vulnerable to self-fulfilling financial crises. This column applies this insight to the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and explains why the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions policy reduced sovereign bond spreads in the Eurozone.
In surveying eight centuries of financial folly, Reinhart and Rogoff (2009) observed that:
Topics: International finance, Monetary policy
Tags: ECB, European sovereign debt crisis, eurozone, financial crises, Outright Monetary Transactions, self-fulfilling crises, sovereign debt, sovereign debt crisis
Central bank transparency and committee deliberation
Stephen Hansen, Michael McMahon, Andrea Prat, 20 June 2014
Central bank transparency is essential to democratic accountability. Central bankers often limit it – fearing its stifling effect on frank debate. Yet transparency may induce monetary policy committee members to be better prepared. This column discusses evidence showing that the ‘better prepared’ effect is important empirically. Exploiting a natural experiment in the Fed Open Market Committee in 1993 – and using computational linguistics tools to measure the impact of transparency on deliberation – the research shows that the net effect is a more informative deliberation process.
The world’s major central banks display significant differences in transparency. The European Central Bank currently publishes no direct information on its internal policy debates, and will only release minutes with a 30-year lag. The Bank of England releases minutes soon after meetings, but withholds transcripts.
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: central bank transparency, computational linguistics, ECB, FOMC
Will voters turn out in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections?
Owen McDougall, Ashoka Mody, 17 May 2014
Turnout in the 2014 European Parliament elections is seen as a critical test for EU democracy. This column presents some predictions. Trust in the ECB – rather than in the European Parliament itself – has been associated with higher turnout in previous elections. Macroeconomic conditions are also important – where a country’s fiscal problems are greater, voters are more inclined to vote.
The extent of voter turnout in the 2014 European Parliamentary (EP) election is widely viewed as a critical test for European democracy. Turnout in the EP elections has steadily declined over three decades, from 62% in the first election in 1979 to 43% in the 2009 election (EP Liaison Office undated).
Topics: EU institutions, Politics and economics
Tags: democracy, ECB, elections, EU, European parliament, trust, turnout, voting
ECB: An appropriate monetary policy
Mickey Levy, 16 May 2014
As banks repay their loans from the Long-Term Refinancing Operation, the ECB’s balance sheet is shrinking. This column argues that, given the slow recovery and sustained low inflation, the ECB should replace its bank lending programme with quantitative easing. Buying short-term government debt would be consistent with the ECB’s inflation target, would keep the ECB’s monetary policy separate from its role in bank supervision, and would create a built-in exit strategy from unconventional policy.
Europe’s modest economic recovery and uncomfortably low inflation put the ECB in a bind. Although economic conditions are improving gradually (European Commission 2014), concerns about the potentially negative impacts of deflation persist (Armstrong et al. 2014).
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: bank lending, ECB, eurozone, monetary policy, quantitative easing
Europe’s banking problem through the lens of secular stagnation
Jan Willem van den End , Jakob de Haan, 28 March 2014
While many economists argue that demand stimulus is needed, this column argues that supply side measures are necessary to avoid secular stagnation. In the Eurozone, it is necessary to clean up and strengthen the balance sheets of banks, which can kick-start the flow of new lending. The comprehensive assessment by the ECB is an important step in this direction.
What is the economy’s new normal? Will it be secular stagnation as suggested by Summers (2013)? According to this view, the economy will be in a permanent state of recession because aggregate demand is below potential output. As the actual real interest rate exceeds the negative equilibrium real interest rate (the natural rate), investment activity is too low.
Topics: Financial markets, Monetary policy
Tags: balance sheets, ECB, secular stagnation
Considering QE, Mario? Buy US bonds, not Eurobonds
Jeffrey Frankel, 24 March 2014
The Eurozone needs to further ease monetary policy because under the current low inflation and high unemployment periphery countries need to suffer painful deflation. However, the ECB faces challenges other central banks do not face. This column proposes a way to overcome some of these hurdles. It argues that the ECB should buy US treasury securities, lowering the foreign exchange value of the euro. That would be the best way to restore the export sector of the periphery countries.
The ECB should further ease monetary policy. Inflation at 0.8% across the Eurozone is below the target of ‘close to 2%’, and unemployment in most countries is still high. Under the current conditions, it is hard for the periphery countries to bring their costs the rest of the way back down to internationally competitive levels as they need to do.
Topics: Macroeconomic policy, Monetary policy
Tags: ECB, euro, quantitative easing
TARGET balances, Bretton Woods, and the Great Depression
Michael Bordo, 21 March 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.
During the Eurozone crisis, an analogy was made between the events in Europe between 2007 and 2012 and the collapse of the Bretton Woods System between 1968 and 1971. There has been a build-up of TARGET liabilities since 2007 by some central banks (notably Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, or the ‘GIPS’), and of TARGET assets by Germany and others.
Topics: Economic history, International finance
Tags: Bretton Woods, Central Banks, ECB, euro, Eurosystem, eurozone, Eurozone crisis, financial crisis, global imbalances, Great Depression, TARGET