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  • Author: Sebastian Plóciennik
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although the euro has survived the most severe phase of the current crisis, its future is still uncertain. The fate of the common currency will depend not only on the condition of the European economy, but also the priorities of its biggest player—Germany. So far that country has been strong enough to enforce its own vision of integration based on neoliberal reforms and austerity measures. Since the side effects of this prescription have been rising costs and risks, Berlin's new government will consider a range of different solutions, including in extremis a controlled and partial break-up of the Eurozone. For Poland, this volatility creates a challenging environment with risks, but also creates chances for Warsaw to increase its influence over the evolution of EU integration in this field.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Susan Schadler
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Throughout the history of IMF lending, the institution has had PCS — that is, distressed countries borrowing from the IMF are expected to give priority to meeting their obligations to the IMF over those to other (private or official) creditors. This status is a defining characteristic of the IMF's role in financial crises: it provides a high degree of confidence that IMF resources are safe even when other creditors of the distressed country face substantial uncertainty about whether they will be repaid in full. In other words, the IMF, which lends to some of the riskiest countries in the world, faces minimal risk that its resources could be compromised by a debtor country's difficulties in servicing its debt. It does so, however, with the confidence that comes from its role in helping to formulate and monitor a program of policies that are strongly expected to return the country to stability.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Janne Salminen, Päivi Leino
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The actual need for Treaty amendments is open to interpretation, for example in relation to the inclusion of the recent euro crisis-related international agreements in EU law. These questions are partly political in nature, and linked to the wider legitimacy of the EU and the integrity and clarity of its legal system. The full realization of the Commission's vision for the future of the EMU would require Treaty changes in order to revise the nature of competence in the area of economic policy and the general framework of cooperation. The recent discussion on the euro crisis measures has demonstrated that many member states have constitutional 'red lines' relating, for example, to the exercise of budgetary powers or sovereignty. It seems unlikely that these hurdles will be overcome in the short term.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Xavier Vanden Bosch
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: In recent years much has been accomplished to make the EMU more resilient to banking crises, sovereign-debt crises or balance-of-payment crises. Several 'backstops' or financial safety nets were progressively put in place to absorb the shocks that could have otherwise broken the EMU as a system. These substantial advances reflected a gradual, trial-and-error approach rather than a grand design that would have completely overhauled the EMU architecture. While flexibility and realism have advantages, complacency is a clear risk. With no roadmap to follow, efforts to complete the architecture of the EMU may fade with time. Maintaining a sense of direction is crucial while potential vulnerabilities remain.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stijn Verhelst, Xavier Vanden Bosch
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This Policy Brief discusses the challenges that await policymakers in reforming the EMU. A balance between discipline and solidarity will have to be found, while institutional reforms should improve the eurozone's legitimacy and efficiency. The key decisions on EMU reforms will have to be made during the 2014-2019 parliamentary term, as the window of opportunity for major reforms is likely to be closed afterwards.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Timo Behr, Tuomas Iso-Markku
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The outcome of the German federal elections on September 22nd will have a significant impact on the management of the on-going eurozone crisis and set the tone for the future course of European integration. Although the EU and the euro are largely absent from current electoral debates, significant differences on these issues exist both inside and between German political parties in the run-up to the September polls. However, in the absence of significant debate, fundamental decisions over the future of EU integration will be postponed until after the election, when a cross-party compromise appears more feasible. Regardless of the election outcome, the next German government is likely to prove more conciliatory on austerity policies in Europe and will boost domestic spending, but will retain some red lines on further EU integration. While the rhetoric and the pace of change might differ significantly depending on the shape that the next coalition government takes, German eurozone policies will continue to trade fiscal solidarity for structural reforms.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Since the US Federal Reserve signalled that a turn in the interest rate cycle may be on the horizon, UK and to a lesser extent Eurozone interest rates have tracked US rates higher. But the UK and Eurozone economies are less well placed than the US to cope with higher interest rates. Simulations carried out on our Global Economic Model show that higher rates would be particularly harmful to the UK economy's embryonic recovery. In an attempt to stem the rise in interest rates, the Bank of England and the ECB have introduce forward guidance but with little, if any, success. Markets do not seem convinced by the Bank of England's commitment to forward guidance and are testing its resolve. It seems likely that over time both central banks may have to strengthen their forward guidance, in the case of the Bank of England by augmenting it with further quantitative easing.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Mario Draghi's commitment a year ago to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro looks to have been an important turning point in the Eurozone crisis. Systemic risk has fallen, the euro has strengthened, spreads on peripheral debt have narrowed and bond and equity markets have become less sensitive to bad Eurozone news flow. Indeed, to date markets seem to have taken Draghi at his word and seem unwilling to test his resolve. But although confidence in the outlook for the Eurozone among investors has risen over the past year, the real economy is yet to emerge from recession. We continue to expect this to happen in the second half of this year, a view supported by this week's improvement in the PMI data. However, unless action is taken to reduce borrowing costs paid by households and companies in the peripheral economies, the recovery will be anaemic. With that in mind, the ECB's announcement that it will ease its collateral rules only marginally is disappointing.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Comments from the US Federal Reserve aimed at signalling that monetary policy cannot stay at historically low levels indefinitely have caused bond yields and credit spreads to rise both in the US and abroad. Higher borrowing rates are particularly inappropriate for the Eurozone which, unlike the US, is still struggling to emerge from recession. This tightening of financial conditions will place pressure on the ECB to act. Although surveys show that investors' bearishness on US government bonds is at an extreme level, suggesting that in the coming weeks bond yields are more likely to fall than rise, the longer-term trend in bond yields is now upwards. But we do not expect the rise in yields over the next two or three years to kill off the US recovery. Consequently, we believe that the US equity market is still on an upward uptrend, albeit one that will experience regular spikes in volatility as the Fed gradually moves away from its ultra-loose policy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The housing market is recovering, according to recent price and activity data. Post-crisis price corrections were smaller in the UK than in the US and much of Europe, and demand is now being bolstered by the government's Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes. This has given rise to some worries that the UK is in danger of inflating another house price bubble. While housing supply is very tight, we are not convinced that these schemes will have enough impact on demand to cause prices to take off.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe