Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 19 March 2018

A number of economists and officials have recently proposed different schemes aimed at using financial markets to impose the right amount of discipline in the euro area. This column argues that this would not eliminate the inherent instability of the sovereign bond markets in a monetary union. During crises this instability becomes systemic, and no amount of financial engineering can stabilise an otherwise unstable system.

Ricardo Caballero, Emmanuel Farhi, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 13 December 2017

The US has seen a fall in real interest rates but stable real returns on productive capital in the last few decades. This column argues that these divergent trends are inherently interlinked, and arise from a combination of a rise in the capital risk premium, an increase in monopoly rents from mark-ups, and capital-biased technical change. With these secular trends unlikely to reverse anytime soon, we are likely to live in a prolonged era of low interest rates, high capital risk premia, and low labour share.

Vítor Constâncio, Philipp Hartmann, 24 November 2016

The ECB’s 2016 Sintra Forum on Central Banking focused on the international monetary and financial system. In this column, the organisers of the forum highlight some of the main points from the discussions, including concerns that the world economy may be suffering from a shortage of safe assets and proposals for which areas international regulatory reforms should be further developed. 

Jean-Pierre Landau, 02 December 2014

Eurozone inflation has been persistently declining for almost a year, and constantly undershooting forecasts. Building on existing research, this column explores the conjecture that low inflation in the Eurozone results from an excess demand for safe assets. If true, this conjecture would have definite policy implications. Getting out of such a ‘safety trap’ would necessitate fiscal or non-conventional monetary policies tailored to temporarily take risk away from private balance sheets.

Luis Garicano, Lucrezia Reichlin, 14 November 2014

The ECB seems to be edging towards QE, but faces a quandary on what to buy. This proposal suggests that the ECB buy ‘Safe Market Bonds’. These would be synthetic bonds formed by the senior tranches of EZ national bonds combined in GDP-weighted proportions. The ECB would merely announce the features of the synthetic bonds it will purchase. The market would create the bonds in response to this announcement, thus avoiding new EZ-level institutions or funds. 

Ricardo Caballero, 21 May 2010

Are policymakers on track to prevent a repeat global crisis? This column says the answer is probably “no”. It argues that the current financial reform efforts are mostly aimed at the symptoms rather than the underlying illness. The fundamental problem in the current global macroeconomic and financial equilibrium is one of a shortage of safe assets.

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