Willi Koll, Andrew Watt, 10 September 2021

Inflation in the euro area has been well below the ECB’s target since 2013. This column proposes institutionalising nominal wage setting within the economic governance of the euro area to bring inflation on target. Such a policy would also address the built-in tendency for divergences in internal demand dynamics and competitiveness within the euro area. 

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The European Central Bank recently completed an eighteen-month strategy review, which aims to ensure that its monetary policy is fit for purpose, both today and in the future.

This shadow report, authored by senior European economists and written in parallel to the official review, provides a structured discussion of four important topics which have been part of the ECB’s analysis in the run up to its strategy review: the definition of the target (price stability and secondary objectives); the operational framework; fiscal-monetary interaction; and the implications for monetary policy of climate change and related mitigation initiatives.

Take part in our online series of events to join the discussion of the authors' findings and engage with this useful analytical accompaniment which will help frame the discussion of the current and future changes to the ECB’s strategy.

Thursday 23rd September will include presentations from the authors and provide an overview of the report followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Speakers: Lucrezia Reichlin, Klaus Adam, Ricardo Reis, and Beatrice Weder di Mauro.

Thursday 7th October will involve a panel of discussants focusing on the market oriented issues covered in chapters 1 and 2.

Panellists: Lucrezia Reichlin, Klaus Adam, Michael McMahon, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, Elga Bartsch, Philip Lane, and Peter Praet.

Lucrezia Reichlin, Klaus Adam, Warwick J. McKibbin, Michael McMahon, Ricardo Reis, Giovanni Ricco, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 01 September 2021

The ECB signalled an historic shift in its 2020 strategy review. This column introduces a new CEPR report which argues that the review has moved the ECB in the right direction but leaves some key issues unaddressed. The report focuses on the definition of the ECB’s inflation target, its operational framework, fiscal and monetary policy interactions, and the implications for monetary policy of climate change and related mitigation initiatives. The authors identify topics to be addressed in future strategic reviews and provide a framework as a basis for this ongoing analysis.

Luke Bartholomew, Paul Diggle, 12 August 2021

Central banks are increasingly considering their role in meeting climate objectives. Often, they justify this by arguing that climate considerations directly impact on their primary objectives of price and financial stability. This column argues that a stronger case is that the urgency of climate risks is such that standard neutrality-based objections to central bank involvement in economic allocation are obviated. Indeed, neutrality-based arguments look especially weak when it is realised that neutrality is essentially impossible for central banks to achieve.

Sebastian Schmidt, 06 July 2021

Inflation shortfalls across the developed world have raised concerns about the possibility of low-inflation traps. This column presents a simple model of inflation to analyse the role of stabilisation policy in preventing them. It suggests that decisive countercyclical fiscal policy can protect economies from falling into a low-inflation trap by offsetting low inflation expectations. 

Philippe Martin, Eric Monnet, Xavier Ragot, Thomas Renault, Baptiste Savatier, 05 July 2021

The pandemic has caused the ECB to push its tools to their extremes. Despite considerably expanding its balance sheet and maintaining negative interest rates, inflation in the euro area remains below target. This column argues that direct transfers by the ECB to individuals, or ‘helicopter money’, should be considered as a viable contingent policy. It estimates that a transfer of 1% of GDP would increase inflation by 0.5 percentage points. A well-communicated policy with a clear exit strategy would be consistent with the ECB’s inflation targeting objective and maintain a clear boundary with fiscal policy. 

Christoffer Kok, Carola Müller, Steven Ongena, Cosimo Pancaro, 09 June 2021

Since the financial crisis, stress tests have become an important supervisory and financial stability tool. Relying on confidential data available at the ECB, this column presents novel evidence that supervisory scrutiny associated with stress testing has a disciplining effect on bank risk. Banks that participated in the 2016 EU-wide stress test subsequently reduced their credit risk relative to banks that were not part of this exercise. Relying on new metrics for supervisory scrutiny, it also shows that the disciplining effect is stronger for banks subject to more intrusive supervisory scrutiny during the stress test.

Frank Betz, Roberto De Santis, Andrea Zaghini, 04 June 2021

Monetary policy can stimulate credit provision – and as a result, economic activity – through the purchases of corporate bonds. This column assesses euro area financing conditions and shows they have improved since the announcement of the ECB Corporate Sector Purchase Programme on 10 March 2016, with corporate bond spreads tightening and bond issuance increasing. Moreover, the unconventional monetary policy triggered a shift in bank loan supply in favour of firms that do not have access to bond-based financing. 

Päivi Leino-Sandberg, Vesa Vihriälä, 31 May 2021

The EU’s response to the COVID-19-induced economic crisis has been aggressive, but not without criticism. This column, part of the Vox debate on euro area reform, summarises some of the shortcomings of the way in which the EU’s Next Generation programme may play out, and suggests short- and longer-term considerations that need to be made in order to ensure that the programme strengthens the Union in the long run.

Michele Ca' Zorzi, Luca Dedola, Georgios Georgiadis, Marek Jarociński, Livio Stracca, Georg Strasser, 25 May 2021

There is growing need to understand the international dimension of monetary policy. This column argues that ECB and Federal Reserve monetary policy decisions spill over to other countries asymmetrically. At the bilateral level, the Fed’s impact on the euro area is material to firms’ financial conditions and economic activity. Conversely, the impact of the ECB’s actions on the US economy is minimal. On a global scale, both central banks’ monetary policies matter for other countries, but the Fed’s monetary policy has a more sizeable impact, particularly on foreign financial variables, such as corporate bond spreads.

Philipp Hartmann, Glenn Schepens, 12 May 2021

The 2020 ECB Forum on Central Banking addressed some key issues from the ongoing monetary policy strategy review and embedded them in discussions of major structural changes in advanced economies and the post-COVID recovery. In this column, two of the organisers highlight some of the main points from the papers and debates, including whether globalisation is reversing, implications of climate change, options for formulating the ECB's inflation aim, challenges with informal monetary policy communication, relationships between financial stability and monetary policy, how to make a monetary policy framework robust to deflation or inflation traps and the role of fiscal policy for the recovery from the pandemic.

Asger Lau Andersen, Niels Johannesen, Mia Jørgensen, José-Luis Peydró, 19 April 2021

Who gains – and by how much ­– when central banks soften their monetary policy regime is a key policy question. This column discusses new evidence on the distributional effects of monetary policy based on detailed administrative household-level data. The authors show that the gains from lower policy rates exhibit a steep income gradient, with the increases in income, wealth, and consumption modest at the bottom of the income distribution and highest at the top. 

Eric Monnet, 26 March 2021

Since 2008, a new central banking model has emerged. Monetary authorities increasingly engage in targeted lending, hold large amounts of public debt, and focus on climate change. This column argues that the new practices of central banks call for an updated institutional framework in order to maintain democratic legitimacy. It proposes the creation of a European Credit Council, which would provide impartial assessments of the ECB’s decisions, particularly those with large distributional consequences. In addition, it would develop proposals for coordinating monetary policy with other EU policies and reinforce the role of the European Parliament.

Gene Ambrocio, Andrea Ferrero, Esa Jokivuolle, Kim Ristolainen, 06 March 2021

Central banks often have inflation targets at the centre of their monetary policy regimes. This column presents survey data from 613 leading economists to explore their views on these inflation targets and wider policies within their countries of residence. The results suggest that maintaining the prevailing inflation target (for central banks that have one) has more support than changing it does. But more respondents are pessimistic about central banks’ ability to meet these targets, particularly in the euro area.

Valentin Jouvanceau, Ieva Mikaliunaite, 25 February 2021

The Euro Area Monetary Policy Event-Study Database makes available intraday asset price changes around ECB policy announcements for a wide range of assets, but conceals unrecognised effects of the ECB’s actions and communications. This column presents three new types of monetary surprises: ‘duration’, ‘sovereign spread’, and ‘save the euro’. These reflect the frequent and significant reactions of long-term sovereign bond yields to ECB monetary policies.

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.

Ignazio Angeloni, 03 December 2020

Ethan Ilzetzki, 16 November 2020

The ECB is in the process of reviewing its monetary policy strategy. This column presents the latest CfM-CEPR survey, which reveals that a majority of panel members support allowing inflation to exceed 2% following periods when inflation has been below target and making more explicit its secondary objective of supporting economic growth and full employment. Only a minority support increasing the inflation target itself. 

Angela Capolongo, Barry Eichengreen, Daniel Gros, 23 October 2020

Seeking to internationalise the euro is now an official policy of EU institutions.  But a constraint on wider use of the euro, by central bank reserve managers in particular, is the shortage of safe euro assets – a problem that is being made worse by the ECB’s asset purchase program. This column proposes a solution to this problem: issuance by the ECB of its own certificates of deposit.

Willem Buiter, 01 October 2020

National central banks within the Eurosystem with substantial holdings of own risky sovereign debt are at material risk of default if their sovereign defaults, since the likelihood of recapitalisation of an insolvent national central bank by its defaulted sovereign is low.  Risk exposures of a national central bank that are out of line with the risk exposures of the consolidated Eurosystem are therefore an existential threat to the monetary union. This column discusses the key flaws in the design of the Eurosystem responsible for this threat and explores three approaches to reducing the insolvency risk of national central banks.

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