EU policies

Viral Acharya, Lea Borchert, Maximilian Jager, Sascha Steffen, 10 August 2020

During the 2008/09 global financial crisis, European governments bailed out a large number of banks that were severely affected by the crisis. This column documents how the design of the bailout policy was determined by the fiscal capacity of the respective country. Fiscally weak countries recapitalised banks insufficiently, causing undercapitalised banks to shift their assets from loans to risky sovereign debt and engage in zombie lending, resulting in weaker overall credit supply, elevated risk in the banking sector, and, eventually, greater reliance on liquidity support from the ECB. Kicking the can down the road in 2008/09 thus sowed the seeds of the future banking crisis. These results have potential implications for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as, if the economic situation further deterioriates, banking sector stability is likely to be adversely affected.

Viral Acharya, 07 August 2020

Viral Acharya tell Tim Phillips that the action to save Europe's financial sector after 2008 has delayed reform in the banking sector - creating a decade of lending to zombie firms that has stifled economic growth.

Nauro Campos, Vera Eichenauer, Jan-Egbert Sturm, 03 August 2020

Economists have long assumed a virtuous cycle between integration and reforms. Implementing structural reforms helps maximise gains from integration, while the deepening of integration would foster reforms. This column discusses new research on European integration, its relationship with reforms and economic growth. It finds that integration triggered product market, but neither labour nor financial market, reforms. It also shows that, to understand the effects of reforms on economic growth, sectoral differences are less important than country heterogeneity. 

Heikki Oksanen, 20 July 2020

One of the many reasons for slow progress with reforming the euro has been a lack of understanding of the links between the fiscal and monetary domains. This column argues that the Covid-19 shock necessitates a significant extension of the time horizon for fiscal policy.  Sound public finances means long-term sustainability of government finances, which is required for refunding public debt at acceptable interest rates. Bonds issued by the solvent governments are needed for the operations of the Eurosystem in setting the monetary stance and in acting as the lender of last resort for euro area governments, which is necessary for preventing liquidity shortages from developing into a general financial crisis.

Anne-Laure Delatte, Alexis Guillaume, 17 July 2020

There was a risk of another euro crisis in Spring 2020. Yet, after a massive sell-off of peripheral bonds, the markets have stabilised. This column analyses the impact of events over the last months on euro area sovereign bond spreads. It finds that differences in healthcare capacity are reflected in bond prices, markets prefer fiscal transfers to loans-based financial assistance programs, and that ECB speeches have stronger effects than deeds during the crisis episode. Of all the euro area members, Italian spreads benefited most from the recent policy interventions.

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