Christiane Nickel, Elena Bobeica, Gerrit Koester, Eliza Lis, Mario Porqueddu, Cecilia Sarchi, 25 November 2019

Wage growth in the euro area over 2013 to 2017 was subdued despite notable improvements in the labour market, leading some to claim a breakdown of the output–inflation relationship. This column presents comparative analyses of wage developments in the euro area, showing that the Phillips curve is alive and well and can be used to explain much of the weakness in wage growth during 2013-2017. Other factors also found to have played a role include compositional effects, the possible non-linear reaction of wage growth to cyclical improvements, and structural and institutional factors. 

Declan Costello, Annika Eriksgård Melander, Martin Hallet, 22 November 2019

Over the past ten years there has been a substantial rise in income per capita differences between Germany and France.However, it is not a given that the German economy will continue to outperform the French one, and indeed the picture has changed during 2019. This column argues that structural divergences between member states in the euro area contributed to nominal and real divergences, and suggests what can be done to foster convergence between the two countries. 

Carlo Altavilla, Lorenzo Burlon, Mariassunta Giannetti, Sarah Holton, 08 November 2019

Economists and policymakers continue to question the effectiveness of monetary policy when an economy faces near-zero or sub-zero interest rates. Sceptics argue that central banks cannot stimulate lending, and may indeed decrease the loan supply, by setting negative interest rates. This column shows that negative rates do not impede the transmission of monetary policy from banks to deposit holders because firms do not withdraw cash in response to negative rates the way households might. In fact, sub-zero rates may even stimulate the economy by encouraging firms to invest.

Laurence Boone, Marco Buti, 18 October 2019

After years of solid growth, worldwide economic activity has slowed down sharply in 2019 while global trade has stalled. At October’s annual meeting of the IMF, policymakers have the difficult task of addressing the immediate policy challenges to support economic growth while also preparing our economies for the future. This column argues that while monetary policy is widely recognised as facing increasing constraints, fiscal policy and structural reforms need to play a stronger role. In particular, fiscal policy could become more supportive, notably in the euro area. Undertaking the right type of public investment now – in infrastructure, education or to mitigate climate change – would both stimulate our economies and contribute to making them stronger and more sustainable. 

Thomas Hasenzagl, Filippo Pellegrino, Lucrezia Reichlin, Giovanni Ricco, 16 October 2019

What is happening to inflation and output in the euro area? The ECB has apparently lost the ability to raise inflation and price expectations have been sliding since the last recession. Much of the policy debate has focused on the flattening of the Phillips curve. Yet, as this column shows, estimations of the joint output-inflation process point to a decline of both output potential and trend inflation as the most relevant elements of the puzzle. 

Thorsten Beck, 04 October 2019

Carlo Altavilla, Luca Brugnolini, Refet Gürkaynak, Roberto Motto, Giuseppe Ragusa, 03 October 2019

High frequency data are an essential input to study the effects of monetary policy communication. This column introduces a new database, the Euro Area Monetary Policy Event-Study Database, which makes available intraday asset price changes around ECB policy announcements for a wide range of assets. The high resolution of the intraday data allows for the measurement of asset price changes separately for the press release and press conference windows.

Spyros Alogoskoufis, Sam Langfield, 03 October 2019

At a leaders’ summit in June 2012, euro area governments recognised the imperative of breaking the doom loop resulting from sovereigns being exposed to bank risk and vice versa. But bank regulation still treats sovereign debt as risk-free and does not penalise concentrated portfolios. This column, part of the Vox debate on euro area reform, asks whether banks would reduce portfolio concentration in response to reforms, and whether they would reduce exposures to sovereign credit risk. Simulations show that the answer is never an unambiguous and simultaneous ‘yes’ to both questions under reforms envisaged by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

Miguel Ampudia, Thorsten Beck, Andreas Beyer, Jean-Edouard Colliard, Agnese Leonello, Angela Maddaloni, David Marques-Ibanez, 20 September 2019

The decade since the Global Crisis has seen notable changes in the architecture of supervision, with separation of responsibility for monetary and financial stability having been reversed in many countries on the one hand, and a move towards more cross-border cooperation between supervisors on the other. This column discusses these two trends in Europe, where responsibility for supervision of the largest banks is housed in the same authority with responsibility for monetary policy, the ECB. It argues that the Single Supervisory Mechanism is a good reflection of the subtle economics of supervisory architecture and the many trade-offs that have to be taken into account.

Marcin Bielecki, Michał Brzoza-Brzezina, Marcin Kolasa, Krzysztof Makarski, 18 September 2019

The boom-bust cycle in the euro area periphery has almost toppled the euro. This column suggests that region-specific macroprudential policy could have substantially smoothed the credit cycle in the periphery and reduced the build-up of external imbalances. In contrast, common monetary policy could have stabilised output in both the periphery and the core slightly better, but it would have been incapable of significantly influencing either housing markets or the periphery’s trade balance. The column also offers policy guidelines in case internal imbalances should arise again in the euro area. 

Ralph Koijen, François Koulischer, Benoît Nguyen, Motohiro Yogo, 18 September 2019

Recent economic performance in the euro area has once again raised the possibility of the ECB conducting asset purchases. This column sorts security-level portfolio holdings data by investor type and across countries in the euro area to study portfolio rebalancing during the ECB purchase programme from 2015-17. There was a material difference in the impact on investors by geography – with foreign investors selling more than half of purchases.

Harry Huizinga, Luc Laeven, 29 May 2019

A high procyclicality of banks’ loan loss provisioning is undesirable from a financial stability perspective, as it implies that bank capitalisations are more negatively affected at the trough of the business cycle, exactly when capital market conditions for banks are at their weakest. This column finds that provisioning procyclicality in the euro area is about twice as high as in other countries. This has important implications for the supervision of euro area banks going forward.

Wilko Bolt, Kostas Mavromatis, Sweder Van Wijnbergen, 25 April 2019

Increasing protectionism will slow down world trade and may dampen global economic growth. This column examines the global macroeconomic consequences of a major trade conflict between the US and China, and shows that the two countries would be the biggest losers from a 10% ‘tit-for-tat’ trade war between them. As long as it does not get involved in the conflict, the euro area may temporally gain from trade diversion, as competitiveness improves and imports from regions whose exports are blocked elsewhere become cheaper.

Marika Cioffi, Marzia Romanelli, Pietro Rizza, Pietro Tommasino, 19 April 2019

During the euro area sovereign crisis we saw contagion and increased interdependence, with the risk of systemic crises. This column sets out a plan to create a European debt redemption fund that pools a portion of sovereign debt. The fund could also become the basis for further euro area reform.

Ellen Ryan, Karl Whelan, 05 April 2019

The EU’s asset purchase programme saw its central banks’ reserve balances increase to unprecedent levels. This column analyses the response of banks in the euro area to this expansion in system-wide reserves, in particular whether they absorbed the excess liquidity or tried to push it off their balance sheets. The findings suggest that banks dealt with the increased reserves with the purchase of debt securities or paying down funding sources rather than lending to the real economy.

Adam Elbourne, Kan Ji, Bert Smid, 13 March 2019

Previous research has shown that changes to the size of the ECB’s balance sheet were followed by meaningful changes in macroeconomic aggregates. This column argues that the econometric technique these studies employed does not provide reliable estimates. Impulse responses to purported balance sheet shocks are statistically indistinguishable from those from nonsensical identification schemes. The effectiveness of the ECB’s balance sheet policies is therefore still unproven.

Christian Keuschnigg, Michael Kogler, 04 March 2019

Only strong banks can fulfil their Schumpeterian role by efficiently reallocating credit. The column argues that high capital standards, efficient bankruptcy laws, and a lower cost of bank equity improve credit reallocation and thereby support the productive specialisation of the economy. An efficient banking sector also magnifies the gains from trade liberalisation by easing the process of capital reallocation.

Marco Buti, Maya Jollès, Matteo Salto, 19 February 2019

The launch of the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999 was a considerable challenge and a historic milestone. The first decade of its existence firmly established the euro as a credible construction. As this column describes, however, from 2008 onwards the economic and financial crisis in Europe laid bare the weaknesses of its initial construct. Some assumptions behind the EMU institutional setting had to be reconsidered and, in the following years, considerable efforts were made to strengthen the EMU. To complete the job, we need to rebuild trust and overcome the creditors/debtors divide. 

Gaetano Basso, Francesco D'Amuri, Giovanni Peri, 13 February 2019

The response of labour supply to negative shocks is different across regions due to varying levels of labour mobility. This column shows that the elasticity of labour supply in response to economic shocks is lower in the euro area than in the US, suggesting that a lack of labour mobility may be an obstacle to labour market adjustments in the euro area. Policies aimed at reducing the complexities of migrating for jobs could help ease this mobility gap.

Giancarlo Corsetti, Aitor Erce, Timothy Uy, 13 February 2019

During the euro area crisis, management of official loan maturities emerged as a critical item in the discussion on which instruments and strategies are most effective at ensuring debt sustainability. Using a theoretical model calibrated to Portugal and cross-country data, this column shows that lengthening loan maturities and managing debt repayment flows has substantial effects on sustainability. It also unveils a key policy trade-off in official lending between increasing the amount of safe debt (immune from rollover risk) and strengthening the incentive to default in response to negative shocks to fundamentals.

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