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.

Ignazio Angeloni, 26 May 2020

In 2012, at the peak of the euro crisis, the leaders of the EU launched the banking union, involving the transfer of large parts of the banking regulatory and supervisory framework from the national domain to the euro area. This column introduces a new report which takes stock of this reform so far and proposes policy measures to improve its performance. It identifies three strategic goals for regulatory and supervisory action aimed at reviving the banking union: reduce overbanking among weaker players; favour consolidation and enhance efficiency among the stronger ones; strengthen balance sheets further, while encouraging area-wide diversification. The proposed measures cover, among other areas, the crisis management mechanism, with a revamp of the instruments and functions of the Single Resolution Board; banking supervision, to enhance the ECB’s action in the micro and macroprudential fields; and the state-aid controls in the banking sector.

Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 22 May 2020

Despite significant reforms over the last two decades, the euro area remains divided, both politically and financially. This column reviews the progress towards the completion of the European monetary union and highlights the remaining gaps. The euro area remains behind the US in terms of risk sharing, banking and capital markets union, and labour mobility. In addition, there is no common fiscal policy to provide support in response to regional shocks. The COVID-19 crisis is a severe test for the euro area, which should be met with renewed calls for solidarity and integration.

Olivier Darmouni, Oliver Giesecke, Alexander Rodnyansky, 20 May 2020

The share of firms’ borrowing from bond markets has been rising globally. This column argues that euro area companies with more bond debt are disproportionately affected by surprise monetary shocks, compared to firms with mostly bank debt. This finding stands in contrast to the predictions of a standard bank lending channel and points toward frictions in bond financing. This provides lessons for the conduct of monetary policy in times of hardship such as COVID-19, when the corporate sector suffers from liquidity shortages.

Chang Ma, John Rogers, Sili Zhou, 13 May 2020

Forecasting the progress and impact of COVID-19 is central to the planning of policymakers around the world. This column provides a historical perspective by examining the immediate and bounce-back effects from six post-war disease shocks. GDP growth contractions are immediate and sizeable, but vary across countries. Despite an immediate ‘bounce back’, GDP tends to remain below its pre-shock level for several years. The negative effect on GDP is felt less in countries with larger first-year responses in government spending, especially on health care, and the indirect effects on GDP growth from affected trading partners are also important.

Fredrik N G Andersson, Lars Jonung, 08 May 2020

Negative interest rates were once seen as impossible outside the realm of economic theory. However, recently several central banks have imposed such rates, with prominent economists supporting this move. This column investigates the actual effects of negative interest rates, taking evidence from the Swedish experience during 2015-2019. It is evident that the policy’s effect on the inflation rate was modest, and that it contributed to increased financial vulnerabilities. The lesson from the experiment is clear: Do not do it again.

Johannes Bubeck, Angela Maddaloni, José-Luis Peydró, 23 April 2020

The way that banks in the euro area react to negative central bank interest rates may be closely linked to their individual funding structure. This column suggests that they do not generally pass negative rates on to their depositors, and that they search for yield by investing in riskier securities. New evidence suggests that their investments are directed more towards securities issued by the private sector and securities denominated in dollars.

Daniel Baksa, Zsuzsa Munkacsi, Carolin Nerlich, 12 April 2020

Ageing populations can transform the composition of an economy’s labour force and threaten the stability of its pension system. This column examines the possible effects of reversing the recent pension reforms adopted since the early 2000s. It appears that reversing past pension reforms would be very costly and would put a disproportionate burden on current and future young generations. Even without reversals, further reforms are needed to address the adverse macroeconomic and fiscal impact of population ageing.

Daniel Gros, 05 April 2020

The countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis already have too much debt. Lending from the European Stability Mechanism or via Coronabonds would add to that debt, potentially making it unsustainable. This column suggests that European solidarity should take the form of transfers, not credit. A substantial transfer could be organised via the EU budget simply by exempting the weakest countries from their contributions to the EU budget for the duration of the programming period 2012-2027.

Enrico Perotti, 25 March 2020

Enrico Perotti tells Tim Phillips that while regulatory reform means that banks are unlikely to be at risk, the same is not true for the shadow banking sector. Does this threaten financial stability, and what should policymakers do about it?

Lorenzo Codogno, Paul van den Noord, 25 March 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak that is hitting the euro area economy needs to be met by a powerful policy response beyond the emergency measures already in place. This column uses an empirically calibrated model to show that the creation of a safe asset and fiscal capacity at the centre – on which the debate has been ongoing for a long while – would be a powerful means to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis.

Ignazio Angeloni, 24 March 2020

Banks are the key to providing financial oxygen to the economy, but the coronavirus pandemic is raising the risk that banks in the euro area will cease to function. This column argues that the return to normality we all crave requires, among other things, that banks be saved, and that this will not happen unless regulation is adapted and more public support is provided.

Enrico Perotti, Oscar Soons, 18 February 2020

A monetary union among diverse economies enhances trade and financial integration, but also has redistributive effects. The column argues that the euro led to implicit devaluations and revaluations, boosting the productive incentives and fiscal capacity of strong members at the cost of others. The euro was thus a transfer union from the start, with implicit flows from the periphery to the core. 

Antonio Conti, Elisa Guglielminetti, Marianna Riggi, 13 February 2020

The weak relationship between wage dynamics and unemployment in the euro area since the Global Crisis is widely perceived as one of the main causes of the ‘twin puzzle’ of missing disinflation between 2009 and 2011, and missing inflation thereafter. This column attributes the weak response of nominal wage growth to employment dynamics since 2008 to the countercyclical behaviour of labour productivity, which is driven, in turn, by the exceptionally high persistence of the downturn and the subsequent recovery.

Michael Ehrmann, Marek Jarociński, Christiane Nickel, Chiara Osbat, Andrej Sokol, 05 February 2020

Inflation in advanced economies fell by less than expected in the wake of the financial crisis, while more recently, measures of slack and underlying inflation in the euro area have seen a disconnect. These and other inflation developments since the Global Crisis have surprised policymakers, practitioners, and academics alike. This column outlines the evidence presented at a recent ECB conference which aimed at enhancing collective understanding of the drivers and dynamics of inflation. 

Laurence Ball, Sandeep Mazumder, 04 February 2020

Inflation did not fall as much as the textbook Phillips curve would predict during Europe’s recessions of 2008 and 2011, and it has not risen as much as the theory would predict during recovery. This column argues that adapting the Phillips curve to use a weighted median of industry inflation rates results in a much better fit with observed inflation. Adding the effect of headline inflation shocks improves the fit further.

Mariarosaria Comunale, Francesco Paolo Mongelli, 27 January 2020

Over the past 30 years, euro area countries have undergone significant changes and endured diverse shocks. This column assembles a large set of variables covering the years 1990-2016 and investigates possible links to fluctuations and differences in growth rates. The findings suggest a significant positive role for institutional integration in supporting long-run growth, particularly for periphery countries. Competitiveness and monetary policy also matter for sustained growth in the long run, while higher sovereign stress, equity price cycles, loans to non-financial corporations and debt over GDP have either mixed or negative effects in core and periphery countries.

Orkun Saka, 06 January 2020

European banks have been criticised for holding too much domestic government debt during the recent euro area crisis, intensifying the doom loop between sovereign and bank credit risks. This column deviates from previous research that focused on 'bad' reasons for holding sovereign debt, and points to a 'good' reason: an informational advantage that particular banks have regarding sovereigns. This seems to have had a role in the fragmentation of European government bond markets. 

Florian Heider, Farzad Saidi, Glenn Schepens, 17 December 2019

In recent years, several central banks have steered policy rates into negative territory for the first time in their history. The novel nature of negative rates raises several questions about how monetary policy operates in such non-standard territory. This column summarises recent research that focuses on the impact of negative policy rates on bank credit supply and bank risk-taking in the euro area. The findings point to a crucial role for bank deposits in the transmission mechanism of negative rates.

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. 

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