The redistributive effects of the ECB’s QE programme

By Christophe Blot, Jérôme Creel, Paul Hubert, Fabien Labondance and Xavier Ragot

Rising inequality in income and wealth has become a key issue in discussions of economic policy, and the topic has inserted itself into evaluations of the impact of monetary policy in the US and Japan, the precursors of today’s massive quantitative easing programmes (QE). The question is thus posed as to whether the ECB’s QE policy has had or will have redistributive effects.

In a paper prepared for the European Parliament, Blot et al. (2015) point out that the empirical literature gives rise to two contradictory conclusions. In the US, the Fed’s base rate cuts tend to reduce inequality. Conversely, in Japan an expansionary QE type policy tends to increase inequality. So what’s the situation in Europe? Continue reading “The redistributive effects of the ECB’s QE programme”

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Does Price Stability entail Financial Stability?

by Paul Hubert and Francesco Saraceno (@fsaraceno)

Paul Krugman raises the very important issue of the impact of monetary policy on financial stability. He starts with the well-known observation that, contrary to the predictions of some, expansionary monetary policy did not lead to inflation during the current crisis. He then continues arguing that tighter monetary policy would not necessarily guarantee financial stability either. If the Fed were to revert to a more standard Taylor rule, financial stability would not follow. As Krugman aptly argues, “That rule was devised to produce stable inflation; it would be a miracle, a benefaction from the gods, if that rule just happened to also be exactly what we need to avoid bubbles.Continue reading “Does Price Stability entail Financial Stability?”

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The ECB’s quantitative easing exercise: you’re never too young to start

By Christophe BlotJérôme CreelPaul Hubert and  Fabien Labondance

The ECB decision to launch a quantitative easing (QE) programme was widely anticipated. Indeed, on several occasions in the second half of 2014 Mario Draghi had reiterated that the Governing Council was unanimous in its commitment to take the steps needed, in accordance with its mandate, to fight against the risk of a prolonged slowdown in inflation. Both the scale and the characteristics of the ECB plan announced on 22 January 2014 sent a strong, though perhaps belated signal of the Bank’s commitment to fight the risk of deflation, which has been spreading in the euro zone, as can be seen in particular in inflation expectations over a two-year horizon (Figure 1). In a special study entitled, “Que peut-on attendre du l’assouplissement quantitatif de la BCE?” [“What can we expect from the ECB’s quantitative easing?”], we clarify the implications of this new strategy by explaining the mechanisms for the transmission of quantitative easing, drawing on the numerous empirical studies on previous such programmes in the US, the UK and Japan. Continue reading “The ECB’s quantitative easing exercise: you’re never too young to start”

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Rotation of voting on the ECB Governing Council: more than symbolic?

By Sandrine Levasseur

Lithuania’s adoption of the euro on 1 January brought the number of euro zone members to nineteen, the threshold at which the voting system in the European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council has to be changed. While this change took place almost unnoticed in France, things were different in Germany and Ireland, where the introduction of the system of rotation in the voting that decides the euro zone’s monetary policy has raised concern and even opposition. Is this reaction justified? Here we propose some food for thought and reflection. Continue reading “Rotation of voting on the ECB Governing Council: more than symbolic?”

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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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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. Continue reading “Decline of the euro and competitive disinflation: who’s going to gain the most?”

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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. Continue reading “Are the macroeconomic forecasts of the central banks better than those of private agents?”

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Dealing with the ECB’s triple mandate

By Christophe Blot, Jérôme Creel, Paul Hubert and Fabien Labondance

The financial crisis has sparked debate about the role of the central banks and monetary policy before, during and after the economic crisis. The prevailing consensus on the role of the central banks is eroding. Having price stability as the sole objective is giving way to the conception of a triple mandate that includes inflation, growth and financial stability. This is de facto the orientation that is being set for the ECB. We delve into this situation in one of the articles of the OFCE issue entitled Reforming Europe [1], in which we discuss the implementation of these three objectives. Continue reading “Dealing with the ECB’s triple mandate”

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What is a weaker euro likely to mean for the French economy?

By Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer

Faced with the rising risk of deflation in the euro zone, which has been reinforced since mid-2012 by the continued appreciation of the euro against other currencies, the heads of the European Central Bank have begun to change their tone in their communications with the financial markets: they are now evoking the possibility of conducting a new round of quantitative easing. These measures are likely to lower the exchange rate of the euro. This would provide valuable support for the euro zone economies by shoring up their price competitiveness vis-à-vis competitors outside the zone, in a context where fiscal consolidation policies will continue to dampen the growth expected in the zone in 2014 and 2015. What are the likely consequences for the French economy from reducing the euro’s value against other currencies? We briefly review past episodes of exchange rate changes, and then present the impact expected from a 10% depreciation of the euro against other currencies using the emod.fr model. These effects are more moderate than those projected by the government. Continue reading “What is a weaker euro likely to mean for the French economy?”

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Central banks and public debt: dangerous liaisons?

By Christophe Blot

Since 2008, monetary policy has been in the forefront of efforts to preserve financial stability and stem the economic crisis. Though the Great Recession was not avoided, the lessons of the crisis of the 1930s were learned. The central banks quickly cut short-term interest rates and have kept them at a level close to zero, while developing new monetary policy instruments. These so-called unconventional measures led to an increase in the size of balance sheets, which exceed 20% of GDP in the United States, the United Kingdom and the euro zone and 45% in Japan. Among the range of measures employed was the central banks’ purchase of public debt. The goal was to lower long-term interest rates, either by signalling that monetary policy will remain expansionary for an extended period, or by modifying the composition of the asset portfolios held by private agents. However, the Federal Reserve recently announced that it would gradually reduce its interventions (see here), which could cause a rapid rise in interest rates like that seen in May 2013 (Figure 1) upon the previous announcement of this type. In a context of high public debt, interest rate dynamics are crucial. The central banks need to take into account the enhanced interaction between monetary and fiscal policy by coordinating their decisions with those taken ​​by governments. Continue reading “Central banks and public debt: dangerous liaisons?”

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