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  • Author: Angel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The rules and buffers created in the last few years to enable the euro area to withstand another sudden stop of credit and market-driven panic in one or more of its member states are welcome steps, but they are widely recognized as inadequate. Ubide proposes creating a system of stability bonds in the euro area, to be issued by a new European Debt Agency, to partially finance the debt of euro area countries—up to 25 percent of GDP. These stability bonds should be initially backed by tax revenues transferred from national treasuries, but ultimately by the creation of euro area–wide tax revenues, and used to fund the operations of national governments. They could also be used for euro area–wide fiscal stimulus, to complement the fiscal policies of member states. Such bonds would strengthen the euro area economic infrastructure, creating incentives for countries to reduce their deficits but not forcing them to do so when such actions would drive their economies further into a downturn. The bonds would permit the euro area to adopt a more flexible or expansionary fiscal policy during recessions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Ángel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Inflation in the euro area is too low, just 0.9 percent year-on-year in December 2013, and inflation expectations, measured from inflation derivative contracts, have shifted lower, indicating that markets expect some small probability of deflation in 2014 and average inflation over the next five years in the 1.25 to 1.5 percent range. The European Central Bank (ECB), however, seems to be content with this outlook. Its current projections show a very slow economic recovery and inflation at just 1.3 percent in two years' time. Yet the ECB describes the risks to inflation as balanced. This puzzling assessment might be due to the fact that the ECB's definition of price stability is less precise than that employed by other central banks, and some ECB members may interpret the definition as setting a ceiling, rather than a target, for inflation at close to but below 2 percent. But if one considers the ECB's self-assessment of success since its creation—achieving 2 percent inflation on average—its current inflation forecast of 1.3 percent would fall short of achieving its price stability mandate.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Teija Tiilikainen
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Reforms made to the EU's economic and fiscal policies have served to reinforce the fragmentation of the division of competences between the EU and its member states in this field. It has also impacted the way in which these competences are exerted by the European and national institutions. Resulting from a differentiation of responsibilities between the eurozone countries and the rest of the EU, fragmentation is increasingly taking place even inside the EU institutions. The current fragmentation of competences and institutions complicates the democratic scrutiny of economic and fiscal policies. The biggest challenge is to accommodate the differentiated responsibilities of the eurozone countries and the rest of the EU within the framework of existing institutions in a w ay that would ensure the unity of this framework, but also the proper democratic anchoring of the EU's economic and fiscal powers.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Viral V. Acharya, Sascha Steffen
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The eurozone is mired in a recession. In 2013, the GDP of all 17 eurozone countries fell by 0.5% and the outlook for 2014 shows considerable risks across the region. To stabilise the common currency area and its (partly insolvent) financial system, a eurozone banking union is being established. An important part of the banking union is the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), which will transfer the oversight of Europe's largest banks to the European Central Bank (ECB). Before the ECB takes over this responsibility, it plans to conduct an Asset Quality Review (AQR) in 2014, which will identify the capital shortfalls of these banks.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • 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: Charles Secondat, Daisy Roterod, P.J. Goossens
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The German Constitutional Court (BVG) recently referred different questions to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. They concern the legality of the European Central Bank's Outright Monetary Transaction mechanism created in 2012. Simultaneously, the German Court has threatened to disrupt the implementation of OTM in Germany if its very restrictive analysis is not validated by the European Court of Justice.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stefano Micossi, Ginevra Bruzzone, Miriam Cassella
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: In July 2013, the European Commission adopted a new Banking Communication – the seventh since the start of the financial crisis – updating its criteria for the evaluation of state aid in the banking sector in response to the evolving economic and institutional environment. Under this Communication, any credit institution in need of recapitalisation or 'impaired asset' measures will be required, prior to any further action, to submit a plan for restructuring or the orderly winding down the bank. Moreover, whenever there is a capital shortfall, the Commission will require that, prior to any injection of public funds, not only shareholders – as has been the case so far – but also junior creditors write down or convert into equity their claims on the bank, regardless of whether the bank is under resolution, in order to minimise the need for state aid.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stijn Verhelst
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The task of ensuring the democratic legitimacy of the euro has been placed high on the agenda. A eurozone subcommittee in the European Parliament is one of the rare concrete proposals to secure this, creating high hopes. Due to legal and political hurdles the idea might nonetheless have minimal results, which might result in suboptimal parliamentary scrutiny of the eurozone. This Policy Brief argues that if a eurozone subcommittee is to be both meaningful and politically feasible, it should combine substantial competences with innovative decision-making.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe