The decline in real interest rates over the past several decades has been the subject of intense policy debate. This column argues that, with the current demographic profile of large older cohorts leading to a population that is disproportionately biased towards saving, we can expect real interest rates to remain low or negative for another 10 to 15 years. The only way for the Eurozone, in particular, to accommodate these excess savings may be to raise its sovereign debt levels.
Jason Lu, Coen Teulings, 21 October 2016
Nauro Campos, Corrado Macchiarelli, 19 October 2016
Explanations for the Eurozone Crisis rely on the notion of cross-country asymmetries. The core-periphery pattern to the EU was first established by Bayoumi and Eichengreen in 1993, prior to the Eurozone. This column replicates their approach to explore whether the euro has strengthened or weakened this pattern. A new ‘coreness index’ indicates that the core-periphery pattern has weakened, and that a new, smaller periphery has emerged.
Andrew Rose, 19 October 2016
The pro-trade effects of the euro are a clear-cut benefit of Eurozone membership, but scholarly estimates of the size of this effect vary widely. This column uses meta-analysis to argue that the variation stems from inappropriate exclusion of nations and years. When all countries and years available in the data are included, the estimate of the euro trade effect is economically and statistically large, at about 50%.
Jan in 't Veld, 09 September 2016
The spillover effects of a fiscal stimulus in normal times are likely to be small, at best. This column argues, however, that when interest rates are stuck at the zero lower bound and monetary policy does not offset the expansion, public investment in surplus countries could have significant positive GDP spillovers to the rest of the Eurozone. Given current low borrowing costs, the increase in government debt for surplus countries would be modest, while debt ratios in the rest of the Eurozone could be improved.
Sylvester Eijffinger, 31 August 2016
The ECB is under fire from all sides for its inability to stimulate Europe's economies. This column puts the case for an informal European ‘praesidium’ within the Eurogroup to coordinate wider stimulus and reform measures. This will inevitably lead to the appointment of a European finance minister – the Eurozone's equivalent of Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary in the history of the US.
Stefano Ugolini, 30 August 2016
When Mario Draghi famously declared that the ECB was “ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro”, he also specified “within our mandate”. This column examines the institutional limitations to central bankers’ actions. It argues that institutional constraints are essential in determining the sustainability of monetary policies, and hence central banks’ ability to pursue their targets. The weakness of the Bank of England in the heyday of the gold standard is a case in point.
Marco Buti, José Leandro, Plamen Nikolov, 25 August 2016
The fragmentation of financial systems along national borders was one of the main handicaps of the Eurozone both prior to and in the initial phase of the crisis, hindering the shock absorption capacity of individual member states. The EU has taken important steps towards the deeper integration of Eurozone financial markets, but this remains incomplete. This column argues that a fully-fledged financial union can be an efficient economic shock absorber. Compared to the US, there is significant potential in terms of private cross-border risk sharing through the financial channel, more so than through fiscal (i.e. public) means.
Stefano Micossi, 20 August 2016
Some economists are approaching a consensus that the Eurozone’s financial architecture is now resilient enough to withstand another shock similar to that of 2010-11. This column argues that such a view may be overly optimistic. Economic and financial instability persists in member states and the banking sector, and institutions to tackle a shock remain incomplete. While the Eurozone remains vulnerable to a bad shock, the blanket application of burden sharing without consideration of current economic and financial conditions is unwise.
Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Thomas Philippon, Dimitri Vayanos, 05 August 2016
The Greek crisis is one of the worst in history, even in the context of recorded ‘trifecta’ crises – the combination of a sudden stop with output collapse, a sovereign debt crisis, and a lending boom/bust. This column quantifies the role of each of these factors to better understand the crisis and formulate appropriate policy responses. While fiscal consolidation was important in driving the drop in output, it accounted for only for half of that drop. Much of the remainder can be explained by the higher funding costs of the government and private sectors due to the sudden stop.
Charles Wyplosz, 01 August 2016
The German Council of Economic Advisors recently proposed a mechanism for the orderly restructuring of sovereign debt in the Eurozone. This column argues that the proposal suffers from some inherent weaknesses. The proposal builds on logical errors and embeds well-established ideas in a setup that suffers from serious limitations. It also neglects alternative strategies that favour targeting large debts as soon as possible.
Jochen Andritzky, Lars Feld, Christoph Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Volker Wieland, 21 July 2016
To make the no-bailout clause credible and to enhance the effectiveness of crisis assistance, private creditors should contribute to crisis resolution in the Eurozone. This column proposes a mechanism to allow for orderly restructuring of sovereign debt as part of ESM programmes. If debt exceeds certain thresholds, the mechanism triggers an immediate maturity extension. In a second stage, a deeper debt restructuring could follow, depending on the solvency of a country. The mechanism could be easily implemented by amending ESM guidelines.
Resiliency Authors, 25 June 2016
Britain voted to leave the EU. This is terrible news for the UK, but it is also bad news for the Eurozone. Brexit opens the door to all sorts of shocks, and dangerous political snowball effects. Now is the time to shore up the Eurozone’s resiliency. The situation is not yet dire, but prompt action is needed. This VoxEU column – which is signed by a wide range of leading economists – identifies what needs to be done soon, and what should also be done but can probably wait if markets are patient.
Dirk Schoenmaker, Nicolas Véron, 25 June 2016
The new European banking supervision system, the Single Supervisory Mechanism, has been operating since 2014. Based on data analysis, interviews with officials and market participants, and nine country-specific studies, this column argues that the mechanism is broadly effective and, in line with the claim often made by its leading officials, tough and fair. However, there are significant areas for future improvement.
Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 07 June 2016
There is a high degree of correlation between the business cycles of different countries. This is particularly the case in the Eurozone, but also among industrialised countries outside of the Eurozone. Using a two-country behavioural macroeconomic model, this column shows that the main channel for the synchronisation of business cycles is the propagation of ‘animal spirits’ – waves of optimism and pessimism that become correlated internationally.
Stefano Micossi, Ginevra Bruzzone, Miriam Cassella, 06 June 2016
Following the financial crisis, the EU banking system is still plagued by widespread fragilities. This column considers the tools and legal provisions available to EU policymakers to address moral hazard and incentives encouraging excessive risk-taking by bankers. It argues that the new discipline of state aid and the restructuring of banks provide a solid framework towards these ends. However, the application of new rules should not lose sight of the aggregate policy needs of the banking system.
Matthias Morys, 10 May 2016
The first century of modern Greek monetary history has striking parallels to the country’s current crisis, from repeated cycles of entry and exit from the dominant fixed exchange rate system, to government debt built-up and default, to financial supervision by West European countries. This column compares these two episodes in Greece’s monetary history and concludes that lasting monetary union membership can only be achieved if both monetary and fiscal policies are effectively delegated abroad. Understandable public resentment against ‘foreign intrusion’ might need to be weighed against their potential to secure the long-term political and economic objective of exchange rate stabilisation.
Nicola Borri, Pietro Reichlin, 04 May 2016
Most commentators agree that a European banking union would end the ‘deadly embrace’ between creditors and governments. This column argues that a banking union would be welcome, but that current proposals are dogged with problems. To resolve these, we should stop discussing debt restructuring and instead enhance the borrowing capacity of the European Stability Mechanism. A programme to buy capital in financial institutions unable to raise it directly on the market should also be set up.
Alex Cukierman, 16 April 2016
Both the US and the Eurozone reacted to the Global Crisis by injecting liquidity and loosening monetary policy. This column argues that despite the similarities in the behaviour of bank credit, the behaviour of bank reserves has been quite different. In particular, while US bank reserves have been on an uninterrupted upward trend since Lehman’s collapse, EZ bank reserves have fluctuated markedly in both directions. At the source, this is due to differences in the liquidity injections procedures between the Eurozone and the Fed.
Matthias Busse, Daniel Gros, 04 April 2016
Through the Eurozone rescue mechanisms, Germany provided the periphery with hundreds of billions in debt at very low rates. There is a widely held notion that these savings would have been better used at home. This column challenges this notion, presenting evidence that Germany’s net asset position held up well, remaining much higher than domestic returns. The main reason is that Germany’s part in the rescue operations was actually much smaller than its claims towards the periphery.
Diego Valiante, 13 March 2016
Financial market integration could help the Eurozone’s functioning by facilitating the absorption of asymmetric shocks via private risk sharing. This column shows that Europe’s capital markets are poorly functioning and are underdeveloped. Governments' and financial institutions' bond issuance are an exception, but their activism is mostly a result of the financial difficulties of recent years. To fix this, a Capital Markets Union should be implemented.