Tag Archives: Central bank independence

From SMP to OMT: ECB commits to destroy monetary transmission

This is not a humorous title, and this is not a funny post. A couple of days ago, the ECB announced after its Governing Council meeting that it would initiate a new program of sovereign debt purchases. The program is named Outright Monetary Transactions, which adds OMT to the endless list of acronyms that has emerged after the onset of the financial crisis. The program replaces the Securities Markets Programme (SMP), or, rather, extends it in a number of directions. As mentioned in my post on the last ECB policy meeting, its need for emphasizing that what it does is not illegal strikes me as odd if not suspicious. At … Continue reading

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May in August at the ECB

After the recent meeting at the ECB’s Governing Council, it was decided to keep the policy rate fixed at its record-low level of 0.75%. As the (bleak) economic outlook has not changed markedly since the last meeting, it seems a sensible decision given the ECB’s mandate. Many, however, forget that the mandate of the ECB is to secure stable prices in the Euro area, which by the ECB is defined as a HICP inflation rate close to, but not above, 2%. It is currently at 2.4%, so it is difficult to accuse the ECB for being particularly hawkish. But the policy rate setting, and how it was aligned with the … Continue reading

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Trichet says Goodbye and SMP peaks at 173 bn. €

Today marks the last day of Jean-Claude Trichet’s tenure as president of the European Central Bank. Bild am Sonntag interviews him on the occasion. In terms of being the main person responsible for the ECB’s mandate of price stability, he has been a success. The inflation measure used by the ECB has moved quite closely around the value which after some introductory opaqueness is stated as close to, but not above, 2%. Surely, during the peaks of the financial crises there were upward and downward swings, but on average you would not call Trichet a man that leaves a bank with little anti-inflation credibility. What he does leave is a … Continue reading

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Posted in Economists, Macroeconomics, Monetary policy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

ECB too Strong for Stark

Officially, member of the ECB’s executive board Jürgen Stark has decided to quit his position prematurely for “personal reasons” (mentioned twice in the brief press release). This can, of course, cover a lot, but does not exclude what is on most people’s mind: He is quitting because he is in opposition to ECB’s actions on the European bond market. Like his fellow contryman, German Axel Weber, he has obviously not been pleased by the ECB’s slow but steadily increasing involvement in fiscal affairs. It is well known that decisions to purchase sovereign debt in the secondary market (which just about makes it constitutionally legal), have not been unanimous, and although … Continue reading

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Politics beat quality any day: Diamond calls it quits

Politics are powerful. Much more powerful than scientific arguments. This is probably a well-known dictum, and I am certain that I could find some cool references to great thinkers who have said something like this in the past. I have refrained from doing so, as I just wanted to put this recent example within economics on record: In the US, members of the board of governors for the Federal Reserve are appointed through a long-winded political process. The fact that elected politicians should have a saying in the nomination of members who will shape monetary policy is sensible from a democratic point of view. I will not dispute that. However, … Continue reading

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Posted in Economists, Monetary policy | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

ECB, SMP, ETC. Who pays for what?

After the financial crisis hit in 2008, new acronyms have been appearing at a rapid pace around the globe. These mainly describe the various measures taken by the world’s central banks to offset the troubles caused by the crisis. Many took the form of liquidity provisions to aid “frozen” banking markets. The European Central Bank launched on May 14, 2010 a so-called Securities Market Programme (SMP), under which it – temporarily – allows itself to purchase Euro denominated government bonds. In its decision, the ECB motivated the move by “ . . . in view of the current exceptional circumstances in financial markets, characterised by severe tensions in certain market … Continue reading

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No Weber after Trichet: Politics 1, Treaty 0

Jean-Claude Trichet steps down as President of the European Central Bank this October. So much is certain, if things go according to the statutes of the ECB. Things do not necessarily go according to the statutes, but it seems a certain bet that Trichet will step down as planned. A question of much concern is who will succeed him? There has been much speculation that the next President would have to come from Germany. (A common conclusion derived from the hypothesis that the Germans and French battle over ECB leadership and influence, with the first President Duisenberg, a Dutch promising to step down after a half term, being a compromise … Continue reading

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