Robin Döttling, Lev Ratnovski, 19 March 2021

Technological progress increases the importance of corporate intangible assets such as research and development knowledge, organisational structure, and brand equity. Using US data covering 1990 to 2017, this column shows that the stock prices and investment of firms with more intangible assets respond less to monetary policy shocks. Similarly, intangible investment responds less to monetary policy compared to tangible investment. The key channel explaining these effects is a weaker credit channel of monetary policy, as firms with intangible assets use less debt.

George Alogoskoufis, 23 February 2021

Greece experienced a deep recession in 2020, and pandemic relief measures have led to further increases in its exorbitantly high public debt. This column outlines three potential methods for dealing with increasing debt after the crisis: (1) increases in taxation/reductions of government spending, (2) debt restructuring and (partial) debt write-offs, or (3) a policy of ‘gradual adjustment’ in which economic growth helps the debt burden shrink relative to GDP over time. The precise policy mix will involve significant coordination among euro area countries, but Greece must also implement domestic reforms to facilitate a dynamic and sustainable recovery. 

Vincent Aussilloux, Adam Baïz, Matthieu Garrigue, Philippe Martin, Dimitris Mavridis, 19 February 2021

The Covid-19 crisis has presented policymakers across the euro area with an unprecedented challenge, not least of all because the shock has come to both the supply side and the demand side of the economy. This column presents a preliminary analysis of different nations’ responses so far, focusing on which measures have been deployed to address each side of the economic shock and where a ‘mixed approach’ has been taken to work in tandem. At a time where coordinated action may be needed, there is a concerning level of inconsistency in strategy. 

Stefano Corradin, Marie Hoerova, Glenn Schepens, 12 February 2021

Euro area money markets have gone through substantial changes and turbulent periods over the past 15 years. These have included the global and euro area sovereign debt crises, new liquidity and leverage requirements, and the expansion of the Eurosystem balance sheet through asset purchase programmes. This column discusses the interaction between money markets, new Basel III regulations, and central bank policies. The analysis shows that money market conditions worsen when financial stress increases, or if central bank asset purchases induce scarcity effects. It outlines implications of changing money market conditions for monetary policy implementation and transmission.

Ioana Duca-Radu, Geoff Kenny, Andreas Reuter, 09 February 2021

When interest rates cannot go any lower, the economy can be stabilised if consumers expect the rate of inflation to increase. Yet, the evidence for this stabilising effect has been very mixed. This column presents new evidence from a monthly survey of over 25,000 individual consumers across the euro area, showing that consumers are indeed more ready to spend if they expect inflation to be higher in the future. While generalised in the population, the stabilising effect is stronger when nominal interest rates ­are constrained at the lower bound.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Keith Kuester, Gernot Müller, Sebastian Schmidt, 27 January 2021

Recent evidence suggests flexible exchange rates do not always insulate economies from external shocks. This column provides novel evidence on how shocks that originate in the euro area spill over to its neighbour countries. In response to euro area shocks economic activity in the neighbour countries contracts as much as in the euro area – not only in countries that peg their currency to the euro, but also in those with a flexible exchange rate. It shows that a standard open economy model predicts this lack of insulation for floating exchange rates, provided the central bank targets CPI inflation. 

Ethan Ilzetzki, 02 January 2021

Global economic activity took a large hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the euro area was no exception. This column reveals how the majority of the CfM-CEPR panel of macroeconomic experts on the European economy predict a 2-5% decline in the level of potential euro area GDP, but no impact on the potential long-run growth rate. 

Kim Abildgren, Andreas Kuchler, 01 December 2020

The extent to which negative monetary policy interest rates stimulate the economy has a subject of recent discussion among academics and policymakers. Using new comprehensive Danish microdata, this column shows that firms exposed to negative deposit rates to a higher degree than other firms increase their fixed investments and employment – after due control for changes in the level of interest rates. These findings are suggestive of an additional monetary transmission channel operating as nominal interest rates cross zero and become negative.

Elena Durante, Annalisa Ferrando, Philip Vermeulen, 30 November 2020

Monetary policy affects firms’ investment behaviour through an interest rate channel and a balance sheet channel. This column uses investment data from over one million firms in Germany, Spain, France, and Italy to analyse the transmission of monetary policy shocks. It finds heterogeneity in the effects depending on firm size and industry – young firms and those producing durable goods react more strongly than the average firm. Embedding these findings into macroeconomic models used in policymaking would enhance the information available to decision makers. 

Stefano Micossi, 20 October 2020

As the world comes to terms with a post-Covid reality, the euro area must confront its growing fiscal and sovereign debts. This column argues that common euro area policies are justified in order to address sovereign debt externalities and risks to financial stability. It considers a mechanism involving large transfers of euro area sovereigns from the ECB to the ESM as a possible way forward.

Carlo Altavilla, Francesca Barbiero, Miguel Boucinha, Lorenzo Burlon, 03 October 2020

The spread of the COVID-19 virus and the associated economic downturn has prompted vast policy responses by governments. This column assesses the effectiveness of policies targeted at supporting bank lending conditions in the euro area. It finds that banks were largely able to accommodate the unprecedented credit demand due to the funding cost and capital relief of the pandemic response measures. The close coordination between monetary policy and prudential measures has contributed by generating a sizable amplification effect on lending. Consequently, an even larger decline in firms’ employment was averted. 

Johannes Fleck, Adrian Monninger, 02 October 2020

Household portfolios in the euro area differ systematically between countries. As a result, ECB policies have asymmetric effects and views on a potential EU financial transaction tax are divergent. This column argues that cross-country variation in portfolio structures is due to variation in country-specific beliefs on social and communal insurance. These beliefs lead to differences in subjective expectations regarding the availability of external support during financial distress. This means that they regulate the extent to which households use their portfolios for self-insurance, as well as their readiness to participate in debt markets.

Demosthenes Ioannou, Maria Sole Pagliari, Livio Stracca, 18 September 2020

The debate over the incomplete and fragile nature of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union has been revived by the Covid-19 pandemic. This column shows that adverse shocks within EMU can be identified and are transmitted to the rest of the world, with implications for economic activity and trade in advanced and emerging economies. Despite the important steps taken during the pandemic by euro area authorities, the drive to complete EMU with a genuine fiscal and financial union needs to continue for the sake of both the euro area and the rest of the world.

Lorenzo Codogno, Giancarlo Corsetti, 18 September 2020

The EU Recovery Plan agreed upon in July 2020 supports investment activity through grants and loans to member states at close-to-zero interest rates. This column suggests that its implementation could give a substantial boost to the economy and fiscal revenues under very conservative assumptions on multipliers. In addition, as the ECB is keeping interest rates and government bond yields low, also through its asset purchase programmes, if it refrains from reacting forcefully to potential upward pressures on prices caused by the massive fiscal stimulus, even a gradual and delayed ‘normalisation’ of interest rates would not undermine debt sustainability. 

Márcia Pereira, José Tavares, 17 September 2020

Crises such as the sovereign debt crisis and the current Covid-19 crisis place significant pressure on European institutions, raising scepticism over policy decisions and speculation as to how member states’ differing needs are taken into account. This column uses estimated counter-factual country-specific interest rates to extract the country weights implicit in the ECB’s conventional monetary policy. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are associated with the largest weights, and Greece and Ireland with the smallest. Nonetheless, the weights of the larger economies are smaller than their output and population shares. The results change minimally when the crisis period is compared with the period before. In sum, while weights differ across countries, they do not seem to unduly weigh larger economies. Further, estimated country weights are positively correlated with the degree of co-movement between each country’s and Germany’s business cycles.

Charles Goodhart, Tatjana Schulze, Dimitri Tsomocos, 04 August 2020

A decade of near-zero, and even negative, interest rates in advanced economies has both encouraged the continued accumulation of debt and a search for yield in riskier assets, while at the same time eroding bank profitability in the retail business. This column discusses some of the palliative measures that central banks have taken to offset the erosion of bank profitability, and raises the question of whether, and how, the longer-term implications of the excessive accretion of debt will be handled.

Maritta Paloviita, Markus Haavio, Pirkka Jalasjoki, Juha Kilponen, Ilona Vänni, 28 July 2020

The introductory statements made by the ECB are some of the most important sources of insight into the central banks’ policy goals. This column presents a textual analysis which seeks to measure the tone of the statements, with the aim of estimating the Governing Council's ‘loss function’. The results suggest that the ECB has been either more averse to inflation above the 2% ceiling, or that the de facto inflation target has been considerably below this threshold. The results also suggest that an inflation aim of 2%, combined with asymmetry, is a plausible specification of the ECB's wider preferences.

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.

Yothin Jinjarak, Rashad Ahmed, Sameer Nair-Desai, Weining Xin, Joshua Aizenman, 06 July 2020

There is an importance relationship between prevailing market factors and the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic across the euro area. This column presents evidence to suggest that during the pandemic, adjustments in euro area credit default swap spreads diverge substantially from levels implied by theoretical models. Mortality outcomes and fiscal announcements account for a proportion of this divergence. Results also imply ‘COVID dominance’, whereby the widening spreads can lead to unconventional monetary policies that primarily aim to mitigate the short-run distress of the worst economic outcomes, temporarily pushing away concerns over fiscal risk.

Paul De Grauwe, Sebastian Diessner, 18 June 2020

There is growing acceptance that some form of monetary finance is needed, if not inevitable, in light of the severity of the downturn in the euro area. This column argues that while a monetisation of the deficits induced by the COVID-19 crisis would eventually increase the price level so that, after a return to economic normalcy, inflation would rise for a couple of years, this is a price worth paying to avoid future sovereign debt crises in the euro area. Moreover, the ECB, as the most independent central bank in the world, would be well equipped to prevent the inflationary upsurge from becoming permanent.

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