Tag Archives: debt crisis

Are ECB’s Greek bond purchases really irrelevant for the private sector?

Motivated by the current discussions about the Greek debt problems, Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji have a VoxEu column addressing “Why the ECB should not insist on repayment of its Greek bonds”. In a debate that currently is, and has been for a long while, marred by political idiosyncrasies and ethnic stereotypes of the worst kind, it is a sound and healthy contribution based on basic public accounting. In all fairness, however, the authors cannot help contributing to the nationalistic platitude by making snide remarks about “hard-working German tax payers”. Also, in an earlier VoxEu column on the same subject they almost question the intellectual sanity of German economics … Continue reading

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Is Greg getting bailed out by his rich uncle?

I have an old friend, and he probably won’t mind I am telling you this, but for sake of anonymity, I will just call him Greg. He has had some economic difficulties recently, but his family has stepped in at different points. This, I thought, was great for Greg, but the whole sequence of events has led to a lot of animosity within Greg’s family. Even though I am biased, since Greg is my friend, I still can’t help thinking that he somewhat has to blame himself. But I’ll let you be the judge. The background is that Greg and his family found their dream house some years ago, and … Continue reading

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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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Structural Divergence in Europe: Death Foretold

One of my mantras is that doing economics is not about “being right,” but about getting wiser all the times. Note that the two things may not overlap. I, for example, would rather be wrong all of the time but know why I am being wrong instead of being right without having a clue as to why. So, I think it is a good mantra, and I will stick with it. Now, after the beginning of the current financial crisis and recession, more or less prominent economists lined up to tell the world that they were “right” as they had seen the crisis coming. Some actually had something to back … Continue reading

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