In the 2010s, the economic outlook of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region deteriorated, with numerous long-term socio-economic and institutional challenges still unresolved. COVID-19 has compounded the problems. As the region's largest external trading partner, the European Union should do more to support economic and political transformation.
Testimony to the European Parliament on monetary policy.
The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the uncertainty that has come to characterise the European economy. We explore how this uncertainty manifests itself in terms of ECB decision-making and the long-run challenges the ECB faces.
This paper, written at the request of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, assesses how the European Parliament holds the European Central Bank accountable. The same exercise is done for the Bank of Japan, in order to identify possible lessons for the ECB and the European Parliament.
Central banks in emerging markets with weak currencies should not resort to unorthodox monetary tools such as quantitative easing as a response to the crisis triggered by COVID-19. Preferable alternatives include shifting public spending away from less pressing needs, moderately increasing public debt and falling back on official development assistance.
Half the households surveyed by Eurostat see themselves as unable to find the resources they would need to cope with an unexpected expense within a month, estimated by experts at €375 in the case of Greece.
Over the past five years conflict has led to a deterioration of Russo-Ukrainian economic relations while ties with the EU have been deepened. This shift is evident in trade flows: the European Union has become Ukraine’s biggest trading partner, while China is poised to overtake Russia as its second. Natural gas imports from Russia, Ukraine’s prior Achilles heel, have been partially replaced by reverse deliveries from the EU and reduced as result of reform of the gas sector.
China’s state capitalist economy poses a challenge to EU openness to foreign investment. In response, the European Commission 17 June published a White Paper on “levelling the playing field with regard to state aid”, contemplating sensible and balanced policies to protect the integrity of the European single market from subsidised foreign acquisitions. However, against the backdrop of collapsing global capital flows and limited existing FDI from China, there is little risk of excessive exposure, indeed a deepening of bilateral investment flows would be beneficial for both economies.
The concept of household financial fragility emerged in the United States after the 2007-2008 financial crisis. It grew out of the need to understand whether households’ lack of capacity to face shocks could itself become a source of financial instability.
Since the Euromaidan protests (2013-2014), Ukraine has had two presidents and four governments. In a difficult environment of external aggression, they have initiated various reforms aimed at bringing the country closer to the European Union and boosting growth. Progress has been partial and relies on international backing, with limited domestic appetite for reform.
Emerging economies have received little attention in the economic debate regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the performance of their primary market indicators, chiefly sovereign debt, foreign exchange and equities, indicate a deep deterioration is taking place. Times of crisis often lead to capital flight from emerging markets as investors seek safe haven assets, while the localised effects of the disease and the collapse in the price of certain key commodities have also been damaging. More worryingly, this appears to be the beginning of the storm, and emerging economies have far less room for fiscal and monetary manoeuvring.
In the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, the sharp collapse in the oil price has received little attention. Brent fell by 30% on 9 March, the largest fall since the 1991 Gulf War. The Russian ruble followed suit and its tumble highlights Russia’s continued dependence on resource extraction. The episode should be taken as a sign of things to come in a world where Russia’s main customers are going green.