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Policy Contribution

From climate change to cyber attacks: Incipient financial-stability risks for the euro area

The European Central Bank’s November 2019 Financial Stability Review highlighted the risks to growth in an environment of global uncertainty. On the whole, the ECB report is comprehensive and covers the main risks to euro-area financial stability, we highlight issues that deserve more attention.

By: , and Date: February 6, 2020 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This Policy Contribution was prepared for the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) as an input to the Monetary Dialogue of 6 February 2020 between ECON and the President of the European Central Bank. The original paper is available on the European Parliament’s webpage (here).
Copyright remains with the European Parliament at all times.

• First, the assessment of risks in the housing market should be more nuanced. Current housing markets relative to those pre-crisis seem to be far less driven by mortgage credit, and the size of the construction sector has not increased. This is possibly good news for financial stability because a house price correction would transmit less into mortgage defaults and corrections to economic activity.

• Second, there should be greater emphasis on changes in market expectations of interest rates, which can have substantial effects on asset prices. This could be particularly relevant if interest rate changes are not driven by real-economy developments.

• Third, the financial system relies on a safe asset as a reference. We show that the supply of safe sovereign assets in the euro area has fallen dramatically, driven by deteriorating sovereign credit ratings and reduced supplies of bonds from the safest countries. More safe assets would support financial stability.

• Fourth, though climate risks to financial stability must be taken seriously, risk weights on green assets should not be reduced since they still contain normal financial stability risks. Instead, risk weights for brown assets should be increased.

• Fifth, the ECB does not consider cybersecurity and hybrid threats in its assessment. These threats are significant risks for financial institutions and at the more systemic level.

• Policies to address financial-stability concerns include macroprudential measures. In this respect, we discover discrepancies between EU countries: countries with the same levels
of house-price overvaluation have adopted very different macroprudential measures. Some countries might thus have done too much, while others have done too little.

• When it comes to preventing the next recession or reducing its impact, we argue that EU policymakers need to be better prepared to use discretionary fiscal policy earlier and more forcefully, in particular because the ability of monetary authorities to react to the next cyclical downturn is very limited.

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Is the COVID-19 crisis an opportunity to boost the euro as a global currency?

The euro never challenged the US dollar, and its international status declined with the euro crisis. Faced with a US administration willing to use its hegemonic currency to extend its domestic policies beyond its borders, Europe is reflecting on how to promote it currency on the global stage to ensure its autonomy. But promoting a more prominent role for the euro is difficult and involves far-reaching changes to the fabric of the monetary union.

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The Independence of the Central Bank at Risk

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COVID-19’s reality shock for external-funding dependent emerging economies

COVID-19 is by far the biggest challenge policymakers in emerging economies have had to deal with in recent history. Beyond the potentially large negative impact on these countries’ fiscal accounts, and the related solvency issues, worsening conditions for these countries’ external funding are a major challenge.

By: Alicia García-Herrero and Elina Ribakova Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: May 28, 2020
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Policy Contribution

European Parliament

The European Central Bank in the COVID-19 crisis: whatever it takes, within its mandate

To keep the euro-area economy afloat, the European Central Bank has put in place a large number of measures since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. This response has triggered fears of a future increase in inflation. However, the ECB's new measures and the resulting increase in the size of its balance sheet, even if it were to be permanent, should not restrict its ability to achieve its price-stability mandate, within its legal obligations.

By: Grégory Claeys Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: May 20, 2020
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Rebooting Europe: a framework for a post COVID-19 economic recovery

COVID-19 has triggered a severe recession and policymakers in European Union countries are providing generous, largely indiscriminate, support to companies. As the recession gets deeper, a more comprehensive strategy is needed. This should be based on four principles: viability of supported entities, fairness, achieving societal goals, and giving society a share in future profits. The effort should be structured around equity and recovery funds with borrowing at EU level.

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The message in the ruling

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By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 5, 2020
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Monetisation: do not panic

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By: Olivier Blanchard and Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: April 14, 2020
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