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.

Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Luc Laeven, David Moreno, 15 January 2019

Euro area corporate sector investment collapsed post-crisis, especially in periphery countries. The column uses firm and bank data to investigate whether corporate debt accumulated during the boom years was responsible. Firms with higher leverage or firms that borrowed more decreased investment more, especially when linked to weak banks. These channels explain about 60% of the decline in aggregate corporate investment during the crisis.

Mathias Hoffmann, Egor Maslov, Bent Sørensen, Iryna Stewen, 10 January 2019

Bank-to-bank lending in the euro area has increased, direct cross-border lending has not. The column shows that dependence on domestic banks reduces risk-sharing in a crisis, reducing GDP growth in affected country-sectors. Benefits from banking integration are only robust to global shocks if banking integration takes the form of cross-border lending to firms and households.

Christiane Nickel, Derry O'Brien, 20 November 2018

Just like other central banks, the ECB generally monitors a range of measures of underlying inflation to help distinguish noise from signal in headline inflation. This column describes measures of underlying inflation that are routinely used at the ECB for measuring euro area headline inflation and provides some insights on their interpretation. Each of the measures has merits and shortcomings and they should be taken together in arriving at a first-pass assessment of developments in headline inflation. At the same time, the measures need to be complemented by a more structural examination of their driving forces in order to better understand the inflation process.

Marco Buti, Björn Döhring, 08 November 2018

GDP growth has become more uneven globally, and has shifted into a lower gear in Europe. So it is unsurprising that commentators have started warning about a more severe downturn. The Commission's autumn 2018 European Economic Forecast is no exception in highlighting an unusual amount of uncertainty clouding the economic outlook. The predominance of downside risks implies that macroeconomic outcomes could ex post be worse than our central scenario. This column discusses, on the basis of concrete examples, different types of uncertainty surrounding the still benign forecast baseline. Prudence requires economic policy to prepare for the eventuality of worse outturns. 

Marcos Chamon, Julian Schumacher, Christoph Trebesch, 06 November 2018

Do investors care about the legal characteristics of sovereign debt? Focusing on the euro area, this column compares sovereign bonds issued under domestic law  to those issued under a foreign jurisdiction, which are harder to restructure in a debt crisis since they are out of reach of the borrowing country’s legislature. This legal protection means that foreign law bonds trade at a premium (with lower yields), but only in situations of severe distress such as Greece or Portugal in 2011/2012. In the midst of a crisis, governments can borrow more cheaply by issuing in foreign law. 

Matteo Leombroni, Andrea Vedolin, Gyuri Venter, Paul Whelan, 18 October 2018

It has been argued that central bank announcements can simultaneously convey both optimism and pessimism. This column explores the issue by looking at the effects of ECB communications on euro area bond yields. It finds direct evidence that monetary policy not only affects long-term rates through expectations of future short-term rates, but also by influencing the risk premia investors need in order to hold long-term bonds. 

Christian Bayer, Chi Hyun Kim, Alexander Kriwoluzky, 06 September 2018

Investors fret that Italy may exit the euro. One reason to worry is redenomination risk, driven by the prospect of a country allowing a new currency to depreciate against the euro. This column compares two types of Italian bond yield curves to estimate such risk, and finds that the yield premium due to it peaked at 7% during the sovereign debt crisis. Redenomination risk also affects interest rates in strong economies, which implies a redistribution between savers and borrowers throughout the euro area.

Simon Wren-Lewis, 03 September 2018

Miguel Ampudia, Dimitris Georgarakos, Michele Lenza, Jiri Slacalek, Oreste Tristani, Philip Vermeulen, Gianluca Violante, 14 August 2018

Quantitative easing has recently been shown to affect households differently depending on the composition of their income and wealth. Using euro area data, this column reviews the relevance of the direct and indirect effects of monetary policy on households’ incomes, which varies depending on employment status. The indirect income channel is found to be quantitatively more powerful, and especially beneficial for households holding few or no liquid assets. This implies that expansionary monetary policy in the euro area has led to a reduction in inequality. 

Massimo Bordignon, Nicolò Gatti, Massimiliano Onorato, 27 July 2018

While it was obvious at the time of the introduction of the euro that the euro area did not satisfy the criteria for an optimal currency area, increased economic convergence was expected to make it easier to introduce the institutional reforms necessary to converge into a fully-fledged political union. This column examines convergence among early EMU entrants in terms of public services, product and labour markets regulation, and quality of institutions. The main message is pretty clear: the viability of the EMU project seems to be more in trouble on political rather than economic grounds.

Marco Buti, András Chabin, Björn Döhring, João Leal, 13 July 2018

Next week, after ten days of swift, flat riding, the Tour de France reaches the Alps. The European economy, meanwhile, has been pedalling uphill since the beginning of this year. 2017 was easy riding as strong global growth boosted domestic investment, but economic growth has had to move into lower gear in the first half of 2018 as this transmission is no longer working properly, and escalating trade conflicts could derail it. This column presents the European Commission’s Summer 2018 Interim Forecast, which suggests that a tightening of global financial conditions could add to the headwinds, though central banks' balance sheets will remain large for a long time, and domestic fundamentals in the euro area remain strong. 

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