Leo de Haan, Jan Willem van den End, 29 September 2017

High asset prices can foreshadow tail risks in inflation. Based on data from 11 advanced economies since 1985, this column shows that high asset prices usually signal future high inflation episodes, but can occasionally signal low inflation or deflation instead. The transmission time of asset prices to inflation can be quite long. For central banks, this implies that the signalling content of asset prices for inflation is uncertain, both in timing and direction.

Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 07 December 2016

The Bank of Japan has recently implemented one of the largest central bank policy shifts in modern times, raising its inflation target explicitly to 2% and kicking off the most rapid balance sheet expansion among the leading central banks. This column assesses this policy decision and its potential pitfalls, and compares it to similar policies enacted in the past. Unless policy has a significantly larger impact on financial conditions going forward than it has to date, the revised framework will likely be insufficient to achieve the Bank’s inflation target any time soon.

Roger Farmer, Pawel Zabczyk, 26 October 2016

Ben Bernanke famously quipped that monetary policy works in practice, but not in theory. This column bridges the gap between practice and theory in assessing how central banks can influence both of them by intervening in asset markets. To the extent that asset market volatility is driven by shifts in beliefs, the central bank should aim to eliminate that volatility by engaging in countercyclical unconventional monetary policy, which would end up reducing the risk premium.

Ricardo Reis, 14 October 2016

Conventional economic theory predicts that, outside of a financial crisis, quantitative easing should have no effect on real outcomes or inflation. This column proposes two theoretical channels through which quantitative easing might also work in a fiscal crisis. In this case, quantitative easing can be a valuable tool because it can control the path of inflation over time and reduce the distortions to the credit flow in the economy.

Wouter den Haan, 19 January 2016

Policymakers have employed various new tools in response to the Global Crisis to revitalise economic performance. This column introduces a new eBook that brings together key Vox columns to reveal the evolution of the economic profession’s thinking about one such tool – quantitative easing.

Stefano Micossi, 17 July 2015

The ECB’s monetary policy has evolved rapidly over the past decade – from the adoption of the euro to the recent implementation of quantitative easing. This column discusses the effectiveness of the ECB’s policies. The single currency induced pro-cyclicality in the Eurozone periphery. The failure to adequately respond to the Lehman failure placed the burden to stabilise financial markets in the Eurozone onto the ECB, which as a consequence has become the lender of last resort in Eurozone sovereign debt markets. And finally, the persistent deflation and depression convinced the ECB to adopt an expansionary monetary stance.

Pierpaolo Benigno, Salvatore Nisticò, 15 June 2015

In the aftermath of the Global Crisis, many central banks have engaged in unconventional purchases of risky securities. Such operations can entail possible losses on their balance sheets. This column argues that neutrality of open-market operations holds only in specific policy regimes, such as when central banks’ losses are covered by taxes levied on the public sector. In absence of such support, losses should be resolved through a prolonged increase in inflation.

Serkan Arslanalp, Reinout De Bock, Matthew Jones, 04 June 2015

Major advanced economies have made mixed progress in repairing the private sector’s balance sheets. This column explores private sector deleveraging trends and calls for a set of policies that will return debt to safer levels. Monetary policies should support private sector deleveraging and policymakers should not ignore the positive impact of debt restructuring and write-offs on non-performing loans.

Charles Wyplosz, 02 March 2015

The ECB has finally begun releasing the minutes of its policymaking meetings, something the world's major central banks have been doing since the 1990s. This column asks whether the publication of these minutes increases ECB transparency. While providing useful information on analysis at the ECB, the minutes lack the details on the actual discussions and the voting behaviour of committee members that the minutes of the Fed, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan provide. They thus constitute just the first step, albeit a very welcome one, towards ECB transparency.

Francesco Giavazzi, Guido Tabellini, 17 January 2015

The ECB may soon launch QE. Two of Europe’s leading macroeconomists argue that QE is the ECB’s last anti-deflation tool – it must not be sacrificed to political expediency. The risk-sharing debate is secondary to the programme’s size and duration – one example would be €60 billion per month for one year, or until inflation expectations rose to near 2%. The ECB should also explain that no matter how well the monetary part of the programme is designed, an accompanying fiscal expansion is critical to QE’s effectiveness.

Jagjit Chadha, 02 November 2014

The impact of the stock and maturity of government debt on longer-term bond yields matters for monetary policy. This column assesses the magnitude and relative importance of overall bond supply and maturity effects on longer-term US Treasury interest rates using data from 1976 to 2008. Both factors have a significant impact on both forwards and term premia, but maturity of public debt appears to matter more. The results have implications for exit from unconventional policies, and also for the links between monetary and fiscal policy and debt management.

Roberto Perotti, 13 September 2014

There is a growing consensus that austerity is contributing to the Eurozone’s macroeconomic malaise, but also that spending cuts are needed in the long run to achieve fiscal sustainability. Some commentators have advocated a temporary tax cut financed by unsterilised ECB purchases of long-term public debt, accompanied by a commitment to future spending cuts. This column argues that such commitments are simply not credible – especially given the moral hazard problem created by central bank monetisation of debts.

Charles Wyplosz, 12 September 2014

Last week, the ECB announced that it would begin purchasing securities backed by bank lending to households and firms. Whereas markets and the media have generally greeted this announcement with enthusiasm, this column identifies reasons for caution. Other central banks’ quantitative easing programmes have involved purchasing fixed amounts of securities according to a published schedule. In contrast, the ECB’s new policy is demand-driven, and will only be effective if it breaks the vicious circle of recession and negative credit growth.

Biagio Bossone, 04 October 2013

In response to the Global Crisis and Great Recession central banks have embarked on a variety of unconventional monetary policies. This column, part of a two-column series, reviews the range of unconventional measures that have been implemented or proposed. The second instalment will compare the various policies.

David Cobham, 16 September 2013

The Bank of England is searching for an alternative activist monetary policy. This column argues that inflation targeting is better than previous frameworks but there is room for improvement. Faced with exchange rate and housing prices problems, the Bank was unable to modify the framework to suit. To avoid such problems, the Bank should be given more goal-independence as well as instrument-independence.

Stephen Grenville, 22 June 2013

Chairman Bernanke’s hints about the end of quantitative easing (QE) have produced volatility in financial markets. This column argues that financial markets were startled because an end to QE is likely to cause capital losses for bond holders since term premium is substantially negative. Bank regulators should be alert to the possibility. This fundamental explanation is teamed with widespread confusion among market participants about how quantitative easing actually works.

Stephen Grenville, 24 February 2013

What would the overt monetary financing of fiscal deficits involve? This column explains the differences between “printing money”, quantitative easing, and overt monetary finance. Lord Turner’s proposed “helicopter drop” raises issues for banks’ balance sheets and central bank independence.

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