OFCE website home

Some reflections on the ECB’s Comprehensive Assessment

Mauro Napoletano[1] and Stefano Battiston[2]

The European Central Bank (ECB) officially released the results of its Comprehensive Assessments of euro area banks on October 26th, thus making a very important step towards the creation of the European Banking Union. The ECB exercise unveiled the global robustness of the euro area banking sector despite the bumpy week financial markets had after its release. On the one hand, most banks hit by important financial shocks and affected by privately and publicly funded re-capitalization efforts (as in Spain) passed the stress test hurdle. On the other hand, fragilities were identified only in few countries (notably Italy, Greece and Portugal) and were basically the result of balance-sheet problems in some big institutes therein (e.g. Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Italy). One may nonetheless wonder whether the above picture of global stability, emerging from the results of the ECB assessment, is well-founded, and whether the methods used by the ECB, and the consequent re-capitalization efforts required, will be sufficient to insulate the Euro Area financial systems from financial meltdowns like the one of 2008/2009. suite…»

Decline of the euro and competitive disinflation: who’s going to gain the most?

By Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer

For nearly two years, between mid-2012 and mid-2014, the euro appreciated against the world’s major currencies. Having reached a level of USD 1.39 in May 2014, the euro had increased in value since July 2012 by more than 12% against the dollar. During the same period, the euro appreciated by 44% against the yen and more than 3% against the pound sterling.

Since May 2014, this trend has reversed: after rising by nearly 10% between mid-2012 and mid-2014, the real effective exchange rate for the euro, which weights the different exchange rates based on the structure of euro zone trade, has depreciated by 5.2% over the last six months (Figure 1). In fact, within a few months, the euro has lost nearly 10% against the dollar, more than 3% against the yen and 4% against the British pound. The weakening against the pound sterling actually began in August 2013, and has reached over 9% today. We expect the euro to continue to depreciate up to the beginning of 2015, with the single currency’s exchange rate falling to 1.20 dollars in the second quarter of 2015. suite…»

France: duty-free growth

By Bruno Ducoudré , Éric Heyer, Hervé Péléraux, Mathieu Plane

This post summarizes the 2014-2015 outlook for the French economy

In early 2011, France was one of the few developed countries to have regained its pre-crisis level of GDP. Economic growth exceeded 2%, even reaching 3% yoy in the first quarter of 2011. Since then the situation has changed: the recovery was interrupted, and while the economy is experiencing positive growth, the rate is close to zero (Figure 1). Four types of shock explain why the post-recession recovery in 2011 died out. Growth was already being battered by austerity and by deteriorating credit conditions, and was then also hit by fluctuations in oil prices and by the impact of price competitiveness in 2012 as a result first of wage deflation in France’s competitors and then in 2013 of the rise of the euro (Table 1). suite…»

Austerity without end – or, how Italy found itself trapped by European rules

By Raul Sampognaro

If the budget submitted by France is out of step with the rules on fiscal governance in the euro area (see the recent posts on this subject by Henri Sterdyniak and Xavier Timbeau), Italy is also in the hot seat. The situations of France and Italy are, however, not directly comparable: the case of Italy could be far more restrictive than that of France, once again reflecting the perverse effects of Europe’s new governance. While, unlike France, Italy is no longer subject to an Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), with its budget deficit at the 3% threshold since 2012, it is still covered by the Stability and Growth Pact’s preventive arm and thus enhanced surveillance with respect to the debt criterion. The country’s debt of 127% of GDP is well above the 60% level set by EU rules and, according to its medium-term budgetary objective (MTO), Italy must come close to balancing government spending. suite…»

Jean Tirole – an outstanding economist

By Jean-Luc Gaffard

Jean Tirole, this year’s winner of the Bank of Sweden’s Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, is an exceptional economist. This is reflected in the academic quality of his published works, both in the discipline’s major journals and in books where he builds on his own research to engage with the major issues facing economics in the field of industry, regulation and finance. It is also reflected in his clear determination to address genuine issues that are important to an understanding of the functioning of market economies and in his concrete proposals for public policy to deal with this. It is also reflected in the way he explores these issues through developing powerful new analytical tools. And finally, it is reflected in the modesty of the judgments he renders on his results and their practical implications, a modesty befitting a true scientist. suite…»

Are the macroeconomic forecasts of the central banks better than those of private agents?

By Paul Hubert

Private expectations – about inflation, growth and interest rates – are a critical component of most modern macroeconomic models, as they determine the current and future realizations of these very variables. Monetary policy has been shaped more and more by the incorporation of these expectations in central bankers’ calculations and the influence they have on private expectations through interest rate decisions and the way these are communicated. The establishment by the central banks of a forward-looking policy orientation, called “forward guidance”, has further reinforced the importance of central bank macroeconomic forecasts as a tool of monetary policy for influencing private expectations. suite…»

The infinite clumsiness of the French budget

By Xavier Timbeau, @XTimbeau

In the draft budgetary plan presented to the European Commission on 15 October 2014, it is clear that France fails to comply with the rules on European governance and its previous commitments negotiated in the framework of the European Semester. As France is in an excessive deficit procedure, the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, has no choice a priori but to reject the country’s budget plan. If the Commission does not reject the plan, which departs very significantly, at least in appearance, from our previous commitments, then no budget could ever be rejected. suite…»

French competitiveness: The object of a supply policy

By Sarah Guillou

The 2014-2015 edition of The Global Competitiveness Report [1] by the World Economic Forum sheds light on the political debate between those who like to prioritize a supply policy and those who instead make the conditions governing offer their top priority. Note that competitiveness is a key factor in future growth in mature economies that specialize in high-tech or high added-value products [2]. suite…»

Reforming unemployment insurance in France today: not a good idea according to OECD indicators

By Eric Heyer

Six months following the signing of a national industry-wide agreement on unemployment benefits between the social partners, with new rules that normally are to apply until 2016, the French government, which wants to go further in reforming the labour market, is evoking the possibility of once again reforming the unemployment insurance system by reducing the level of benefits and the period they are paid.

It is far from clear that reforming the unemployment insurance system is in keeping with the idea that any reform must improve the “quality of life” of our citizens. This is, in any case, what is indicated by the latest publication of the OECD. suite…»

The promotion of renewable energy innovation: when State intervention and competition go hand in hand

by Lionel Nesta and Francesco Vona[1]

In contrast with the common belief that competition demands no State intervention, innovation policy and competition complement each other. This is the main conclusion of our investigation concerning innovation in the realm of renewable energy (RE)[2], summarized in the OFCE Briefing Paper, n°8, October 6, 2014. suite…»