The European Central Bank was once known for its focus on price stability. Since the global economic crisis, however, its role has extended to saving banks and sovereign countries. This column argues that such a move has badly harmed the institution’s legitimacy – something that will damage both its policy effectiveness and confidence in the governing bodies of the EU as a whole.
Anne Sibert, 15 September 2011
Francesco Giavazzi, Alberto Alesina, 01 September 2011
One major problem with the Eurozone as a currency area is that its economies are not in sync. With growth in Germany now slowing, this column argues that this could be the blessing the ECB has been praying for.
Paul De Grauwe, 18 August 2011
With the Eurozone crisis casting doubt over the solvency of Spain and Italy, the ECB has once again intervened to provide liquidity in the government bond markets. This column asks the question: Is there such a role for the ECB as a lender of last resort?
Daniel Gros, 11 August 2011
Investors are anticipating the unravelling of the 21 July 2011 “solution” and a breakdown of the interbank-market that would throw the economy into an “immediate recession” like the one experienced after the Lehman bankruptcy. This column argues that this will happen without quick and bold action. The EFSF can’t work as designed but if it were registered as a bank – which would give it access to unlimited ECB re-financing – governments could stop the generalised breakdown of confidence while leaving the management of public debt in the hand of the finance ministers.
Charles Wyplosz, 25 October 2011
UPDATED: EZ leaders are working on a plan to save the euro. This column updates the column posted on 22 August 2011 by evaluating the steps EZ leaders took this weekend. Things don’t look good. By rejecting any major role for the ECB, leaders have guaranteed that any package will be too little too late. After all, imagine what the US crisis package in 2008 would have looked like if the Fed had refused to use its massive firepower to stabilise markets.
Clemens Jobst, 19 July 2011
The debate over TARGET balances and whether there is an ongoing stealth bailout in the Eurozone has attracted attention from top economists and journalists in the past month. This column argues that the reason why the arguments keep dragging on is the lack of a clear framework for the discussion, something this column aims to provide.
Stefan Gerlach, John Lewis, 04 July 2011
Did the ECB respond quickly enough when the global economy melted down in 2008? The authors of CEPR DP8472 argue that the ECB's forward-looking conduct of monetary policy prior to the crisis, with an eye constantly on the zero lower bound, allowed it to react with rapid and deep interest rate cuts after the crisis without bottoming out at the ZLB.
Michele Lenza, Lucrezia Reichlin, 24 June 2011
Should central banks use the headline or the core measure measure of inflation to track medium-term inflationary pressures? Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, board member of the ECB, recently argued in favour of using headline inflation. This provoked strong opposition from Paul Krugman, amongst others. This column assesses the two sides of the debate.
Jeffrey Frankel, 16 May 2011
It is a year since Greece was bailed out by EU and IMF and there are many who label it a failure. This column says that while there is plenty of blame to go around, there were three big mistakes made by the European Central Bank. Number one: Letting Greece join the euro in the first place.
Ricardo Cabral, 15 May 2011
Greece, Ireland, and more recently Portugal have applied for EU and IMF financial aid. This column argues the accompanying adjustment programmes should be modified to reflect the balance of payments and external debt crises these countries face. It suggests that these countries’ public and private debt should be restructured and their tax structure should be rebalanced to replicate the effect of currency devaluation and so improve these countries’ external competitiveness.
Richard Baldwin, 25 December 2010
Vox takes its annual break between 25 December 2010 and 2 January 2011. This column documents the coevolution of VoxEU and the global economic crisis since June 2007. It also highlights a few columns that readers should read (or re-read) in preparation for the Eurozone’s next crisis.
Charles Wyplosz, 19 December 2010
Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi – Member of the ECB's Executive Board – has produced a brilliant defence of the no-default strategy currently pursued by the Eurozone authorities. This column argues that instead of ruling out highly plausible outcomes, the ECB should explain how it will react if defaults happen. By not making adequate preparations, it may be raising the odds of a very bad scenario.
Daniel Gros, 05 December 2010
Muddling through isn’t working. This column argues that troubled Eurozone nations should simultaneously open restructuring talks while continuing to service their debts normally. Germany, France, and other core Eurozone nations would have to stand ready to recapitalise the banks most exposed to the restructured debt. The ECB would then stabilise the banking system and the EFSF would stabilise sovereign debt. This big bang could be prepared in a weekend; the market already seems to be pricing it in.
Daniel Gros, 05 December 2010
Despite its large size relative to the small Irish economy, last weekend’s bailout is not working. Risk premiums continue to rise. This column argues that part of the problem lies in a seemingly innocuous provision in the rescue facility that is to replace the current European Financial Stability Facility in 2013. The argument is tricky, but the heart of the problem is the insistence that rescue financing be senior to private debt while simultaneously ruling out rescheduling of short-term debt.
Guido Tabellini, 05 October 2010
The current European economic governance needs reform. This column argues that rather than trying to invade national governments’ autonomy in economic policy, the European authorities should focus on the transfer of sovereignty in the field of financial supervision.
Stefan Gerlach, John Lewis, 27 July 2010
Monetary policy during the global crisis entered unchartered territory. This column suggests that fear of a global recession may have led policymakers to cut rates more aggressively in order to prevent the need for negative interest rates.
Guido Tabellini, 26 May 2010
Improvisation in handling the crisis in Greece has given the impression that governments and European institutions are not capable of facing the toughest challenges. This column reminds us that in times like these, the credibility of institutions is essential and rests on consistency. The ECB decision to "sterilise" the purchase of bonds with inverse operations to drain liquidity puts this credibility at risk.
Michele Lenza, Lucrezia Reichlin, 16 February 2010
What effects have the recent exceptional monetary policy interventions had on loans and unemployment, and what are the possible effects of phasing them out? This column provides quantitative estimates for the Eurozone, arguing that that the exceptional policies affect the economic via the spread between the policy rate and the market rate on overnight deposits rather than through their effect on the monetary base.
Emil Stavrev, Martin Cihák, Thomas Harjes, 15 January 2010
The global crisis forced central banks to take unconventional measures. This column says that the ECB’s “enhanced credit support” helped support the transmission of monetary policy by reducing money market term spreads. The substantial increase in the ECB’s balance sheet also likely contributed to a reduction in government bond term spreads and a somewhat flatter yield curve.
Sylvester Eijffinger, 24 October 2009
Governments are restructuring their financial supervision systems. This column warns that the proposed new structure for European financial supervision is poorly coordinated and will not help in a systemic crisis. It discusses how the ECB might coordinate macro-prudential supervision in the euro area.