Europe in the eye of a crisis
Lans Bovenberg, Coen Teulings 04 April 2009
Some analysts have argued that the European is poorly positioned to address the crisis since its economic integration has outpaced its integration of politics and governance. This column says that, in the face of the crisis, Europe must now decide between political integration and economic disintegration. It argues for EU-wide banking reforms, financial regulation, macroeconomic policies, and global coordination.
Europe is now at a crossroads: either closer political integration will support European economic integration or European markets will disintegrate at the cost of falling standards of living and rising international political tensions. It would not be the first time that a crisis compels Europe to take a step further on the road to closer political cooperation, as Avinash Persaud has argued on Vox.
EU policies Global crisis
ECB, EU, Banking crisis
Keep it simple
Carmine Di Noia, Stefano Micossi 01 April 2009
What are feasible policy responses to the crisis? This column argues for simple but significant changes in international imbalances, financial regulation, global coordination, and micro-prudential regulation.
Tomorrow’s G20 meeting in London should not try to resolve everything. It must concentrate on what is urgent and, for the rest, start a process capable of producing a consensus on what must be corrected in the global governance of the economy and financial markets within reasonable deadlines.
EU policies Global crisis Global governance
ECB, financial regulation, G20
Fiscal dimensions of central banking: the fiscal vacuum at the heart of the Eurosystem and the fiscal abuse by and of the Fed: Part 2
Willem Buiter 25 March 2009
The last column in this series on fiscal aspects of central banking reviews the differences in fiscal backing for the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve, and the European Central Bank.
The Bank of England
ECB, Fed, Bank of England, fiscal backing
Fiscal dimensions of central banking: the fiscal vacuum at the heart of the Eurosystem and the fiscal abuse by and of the Fed: Part 3
Willem Buiter 25 March 2009
The third column in this series discusses the ECB’s lack of fiscal backing in detail and suggests three ways in which it might be provided by EU governments.
An entirely valid reason for the ECB/Eurosystem to refuse to engage in either outright purchases of private securities or in unsecured lending to the banking sector (or to the non-financial enterprise sector directly), is that there is no ‘fiscal Eurozone’ – just as there is no fiscal EU. The absence of a fiscal Europe that matters here is a narrow one.
ECB, Eurosystem, fiscal Europe, wnt
Fiscal dimensions of central banking: The fiscal vacuum at the heart of the Eurosystem and the fiscal abuse by and of the Fed: Part 2
Willem Buiter 24 March 2009
The second of this four-column series on fiscal aspects of central banking discusses the institutional constraints on quantitative easing. It argues that the ECB can and should engage in quantitative easing since its independence gives it a credible non-inflationary exit strategy. The Fed, however, seems heading for a bout of inflation stemming from Congressional pressure. Buiter argues that the Bank of England’s situation lies between.
Why has there not been quantitative easing in the Eurozone? Good question.
No treaty-based obstacle
There is no treaty-based obstacle to the ECB/Eurosystem buying Eurozone government securities in the secondary markets. Indeed, both the ECB and the 16 national central banks of the Eurosystem hold Eurozone government securities on their balance sheets. Article 101.1 of the Consolidated version of the Treaty Establishing the European Community reads as follows:
ECB, Fed, quantitative easing
Fiscal dimensions of central banking: The fiscal vacuum at the heart of the Eurosystem and the fiscal abuse by and of the Fed: Part 1
Willem Buiter 08 May 2010
First published on 24 March 2009, this column is more relevant than ever. In it Willem Buiter argues that the ECB’s lack of fiscal backing is both unusual among major central banks and a severe handicap – it is a factor in why the ECB is “fiddling while the Eurozone burns” by hesitating to undertake quantitative easing started by the Fed, Bank of England, and others.
Editors’ note: This is the first of a four-part series of Vox columns culled from Willem Buiter’s recent post on his FT-sponsored blog, Maverecon.
ECB, Eurosystem, quantitative easing
Was the euro a mistake?
Barry Eichengreen 20 January 2009
2008 was the year of asymmetric financial shocks for the Eurozone, but 2009 will be the year of the symmetric economic shock. All of Europe is slipping simultaneously towards recession and the threat of deflation. Here one of the world’s leading international economists explains that a common monetary policy response is optimal. Euro interest rates should be cut to zero and quantitative easing undertaken, all complemented by fiscal expansion by Eurozone nations that can afford it. What started as the euro’s greatest challenge could be its salvation, but only if policy makers act swiftly.
What started as the Subprime Crisis in 2007 and morphed in the Global Credit Crisis in 2008 has become the Euro Crisis in 2009. Sober people are now contemplating whether a euro area member such as Greece might default on its debt. In addition to directly damaging bank balance sheets, this would destroy confidence in its banking and financial system. Unable to borrow and facing horrific bank recapitalisation costs, the country would have to print money. To do so it would have to abandon the euro and reinstate its old national currency.
ECB, global crisis, Government default, Eurozone breakup
The euro at ten: Why do effects on trade between members appear smaller than historical estimates among smaller countries?
Jeffrey Frankel 24 December 2008
Trade among euro members has increased 10-15% since the introduction of the euro, a far smaller effect than estimated prior to the currency's introduction. What explains the discrepancy between the European experience and previous history? This column explores the difficulty of explaining the difference.
With the tenth anniversary of the launching of the euro, everyone is taking stock. The record of the euro shows both pluses and minuses. Looking back, the euro has in many ways been more successful than predicted by the sceptics – many of them American economists. The historic transition to a monetary union among 11 countries in 1999 went smoothly, the euro instantly became the world’s number two international currency, and the officials of the European Central Bank (ECB) have from the beginning worked as citizens of Europe rather than as representatives of home constituencies.
EU policies International finance
ECB, euro, EU trade, monetary unions, CFA franc
The first ten years of the euro
Marco Buti, Vitor Gaspar 24 December 2008
This column looks back at the first ten years of the euro, from the uncertainty surrounding its adoption to the one caused by the current crisis. In between, the euro proved a resounding success. It is worth remembering the magnitude of the original challenge in order to use the crisis as an opportunity to strengthen European governance.
“It is in the nature of beginning that something new is started which cannot be expected from what may have happened before. This character of startling unexpectedness is inherent in all beginnings.” – Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958.
EU institutions EU policies Monetary policy
ECB, euro, EMU
The folly of the central banks of Europe
John Muellbauer 27 October 2008
The current financial crisis will probably lead to an unnecessarily deep recession. This column suggests that European central banks, misguided by outdated econometric models, should have cut rates faster and deeper in a coordinated fashion. They should now scrap these models and agree on a large, coordinated cut of 2 percentage points.
When future economic historians look back to trace the triggers for the October 2008 financial panic and the unnecessarily severe recession of 2009, they will likely put their fingers on two.
ECB, subprime crisis, financial crisis, UK, rescue package, currency crisis