Is the ECB impotent?

Christophe Blot, Jérôme CreelPaul Hubert and Fabien Labondance

In June 2014, the ECB announced a set of new measures (a detailed description of which is provided in a special study entitled, “How can the fragmentation of the euro zone banking system be fought?”, Revue de l’OFCE, No. 136, in French) in order to halt the lowering of inflation and sustain growth. Mario Draghi then clarified the objectives of the ECB’s monetary policy by indicating that the Bank wanted to expand its balance sheet by a trillion euros to return to a level close to that seen in the summer of 2012. Among the measures taken, much was expected from the new targeted long-term refinancing operation (TLTRO), which gives banks in the euro zone access to ECB refinancing with a maturity of 4 years in return for providing credit to the private sector (excluding mortgages). However, after the first two allocations (24 September 2014 and 11 December 2014), the picture has become rather complicated, with the amounts allocated well below expectations. This reflects the difficulty the ECB is having in fighting effectively against the risk of deflation. Continue reading “Is the ECB impotent?”

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The official introduction of the euro in Lithuania: does it really make no difference?

Sandrine Levasseur

On 1 January 2015, Lithuania adopted the euro officially, becoming the 19th member of the euro zone. The adoption was in reality formal, as the euro was already (very) present in Lithuania. For example at the end of 2014, over 75% of loans to Lithuanian businesses and households were denominated in euros, as were 25% of bank deposits. Continue reading “The official introduction of the euro in Lithuania: does it really make no difference?”

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Banking Europe: Strength in the Union?

By Céline Antonin and Vincent Touzé

On 4 November 2014, the European Central Bank became the single supervisor of banks in the euro zone. This was the first step in the banking union.

The economic and financial crisis that started in 2007 has exposed several European weaknesses: Continue reading “Banking Europe: Strength in the Union?”

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What options for the European Central Bank?

By Paul Hubert

All eyes are now on the ECB, whose recent statements indicate that it is concerned about the risk of deflation in the euro zone. The further downturn in inflation in May to 0.5% year on year is a reminder that this risk is increasing. This could lead the ECB to take action at the monthly meeting of the Board of Governors being held today, or in the months to come. This post provides a brief summary of the possible options available to the ECB. Continue reading “What options for the European Central Bank?”

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The ECB – or how to become less conventional

By Jérôme Creel and Paul Hubert

The gloomy economic situation in the euro zone and the deflationary risks it is facing are leading the members of the European Central Bank (ECB) to consider a new round of quantitative easing, as can be seen in recent statements by German, Slovakian and European central bankers. What might this involve, and could these measures be effective in boosting the euro zone economy? Continue reading “The ECB – or how to become less conventional”

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And what if the ECB respected its mandate!

By Christophe Blot

Article 127 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), i.e. former Article 105 of the Maastricht Treaty, states clearly that “the primary objective of the European System of Central Banks … shall be to maintain price stability”. However, no precise quantification of this goal is given in the Treaty. The European Central Bank has interpreted this by stating that it would target inflation that is below, but close to, 2% over the medium term. Furthermore, Article 127 of the TFEU adds that, “without prejudice to the objective of price stability , the [European System of Central Banks ] shall support the general economic policies in the Union, as laid down in Article 3 …”, which includes in particular the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, full employment and social progress. It is therefore clear that the goal of growth and employment is not abandoned but subordinated to the goal of price stability. Starting from this review of the definition of the ECB’s objectives, what conclusion can we draw on the orientation of monetary policy in the euro zone? Continue reading “And what if the ECB respected its mandate!”

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The chiaroscuro of the ECB’s “forward guidance” *

By Paul Hubert and Fabien Labondance

“The Governing Council expects the key interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time.” With this pronouncement on 4 July 2013 at the press conference following the monthly meeting of the European Central Bank Board of Governors, Mario Draghi initiated the adoption by the ECB of a new communication strategy called “forward guidance”. Since then these words have always been included in his speech following announcements of the ECB’s monetary policy, and he has repeated them again today [1]. What should we expect? Forward guidance has recently been adopted by several central banks, but the methods chosen by the ECB differ and indicate that this measure will have only limited effectiveness in the euro zone. Continue reading “The chiaroscuro of the ECB’s “forward guidance” *”

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Monetary policy and property booms: dealing with the heterogeneity of the euro zone

By Christophe Blot and Fabien Labondance

The transmission of monetary policy to economic activity and inflation takes place through various channels whose role and importance depend largely on the structural characteristics of an economy. The dynamics of credit and property prices are at the heart of this process. There are multiple sources of heterogeneity between the countries of the euro zone, which raises questions about the effectiveness of monetary policy but also about the means to be used to reduce this heterogeneity. Continue reading “Monetary policy and property booms: dealing with the heterogeneity of the euro zone”

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What monetary policy for the ECB in 2013?

By Paul Hubert

After the monthly meeting of the Board of Governors of the European Central Bank on 7 February 2013, the ECB decided to hold its key interest rate at 0.75%. The analysis of the economic situation by Mario Draghi made ​​during the press conference afterwards pointed to contrasting developments justifying the status quo. In a recent study, we showed that the inflation forecasts of the ECB can shed new light on future trends in interest rates. Continue reading “What monetary policy for the ECB in 2013?”

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Friends of acronyms, here comes the OMT

By Jérôme Creel and Xavier Timbeau

We had the OMD with its Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark, and now the OMT with its Orchestral Manœuvres in the [liquidity] Trap, or more precisely, “Outright Monetary Transactions”, which is undoubtedly clearer. The OMT is a potentially effective mechanism that gives the European Central Bank (ECB) the means to intervene massively in the euro zone debt crisis so as to limit the differences between interest rates on euro zone government bonds. The possibility that a country that comes into conflict with its peers might leave the euro zone still exists, but if there is a common desire to preserve the euro then the ECB can intervene and play a role comparable to that of the central banks of other major states. Opening this door towards an escape route from the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis has given rise to great hope. Nevertheless, certain elements, such as conditionality, could quickly pose problems. Continue reading “Friends of acronyms, here comes the OMT”

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