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ECB - European Central Bank
Latest releases on the ECB website - Press releases, speeches and interviews, press conferences.

  • Explaining deviations from Okun’s law
    Despite its stability over time, as for any statistical relationship, Okun’s law is subject to deviations that can be large at times. In this paper, we provide a mapping between residuals in Okun’s regressions and structural shocks identified with a SVAR model by inspecting how unemployment responds to the state of the economy. We show that deviations from Okun’s law are a natural and expected outcome once one takes a multi-shock perspective, as long as shocks to automation, labour supply and structural factors in the labour market are taken into account. Our simple recipe for policy makers is that, if a positive deviation from Okun’s law arises, it is likely to be generated by either positive labour supply or automation shocks or by negative structural factors shocks.

  • Latent fragility: conditioning banks' joint probability of default on the financial cycle
    We propose the CoJPoD, a novel framework explicitly linking the cross-sectional and cyclical dimensions of systemic risk. In this framework, banking sector distress in the form of the joint probability of default of financial intermediaries (reflecting contagion from both direct and indirect interconnectedness) is conditioned on the financial cycle (reflecting the buildup and unwinding of system-wide balance sheet leverage). An empirical application to large systemic banks in the euro area, US and UK illustrates how the unravelling of excess leverage can magnify banking sector distress. Capturing this dependence of banking sector distress on prevailing financial imbalances can enhance risk surveillance and stress testing alike. An empirical signaling exercise confirms that the CoJPoD outperforms the individual capacity of either its unconditional counterpart or the financial cycle in signaling financial crises particularly around their onset - suggesting scope to increase the precision with which macroprudential policies are calibrated.

  • Preferred habitat and monetary policy through the looking-glass
    The ability of monetary policy to influence the term structure of interest rates and the macroeconomy depends on the extent to which financial market participants prefer to hold bonds of different maturities. We microfound such preferred-habitat demand in a fully-specified dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the macroeconomy where the term structure is arbitrage-free. The source of preferred habitat demand is an insurance fund that issues annuities and adopts a liability-driven strategy to minimise the duration risk on its balance sheet. The optimising behaviour of the insurance fund implies a preferred-habitat demand function that is upward-sloping in bond prices and downward-sloping in bond yields, especially when interest rates are low. This supports the operation of a recruitment channel at low interest rates, whereby long-term interest rates react strongly to short-term policy rates because of complementary changes in term premia induced by preferred-habitat demand. The strong reaction extends to inflation and output in general equilibrium, a through-the-looking-glass result that challenges conventional wisdom that preferred habitat weakens the transmission of monetary policy.

  • The current account and monetary policy in the euro area
    We investigate the factors driving current account and monetary policy developments in the euro area. We estimate an open-economy structural vector autoregression (VAR) model with zero and sign restrictions derived from a multi-country dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model to identify relevant shocks and analyse their impact on the current account and interest rate. Examining the VAR impulse responses for Germany, Italy and Spain we find that investment shocks and preference shocks drive the current account and interest rates in the opposite directions. By contrast, external demand shocks and productivity shocks cause both the current account balance and interest rate to move in the same direction. We also provide evidence for spillovers to the euro area from US preference shocks and US interest rate policy shocks.

  • TARGET2 analytical tools for regulatory compliance
    As the operator of a systemically important payment system (SIPS), the Eurosystem has the responsibility of regularly assessing the resilience of the Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System (TARGET2) to various types of risks, as set out in the Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures (PFMIs) drawn up by the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). To identify, measure, monitor and mitigate these risks over time, the TARGET2 operator has developed specific approaches that include both qualitative and quantitative elements.

  • Economic Bulletin Issue 5, 2022

  • Trade flows with Russia since the start of its invasion of Ukraine
    In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, war-related disruptions and sanctions led to a sharp decline in trade flows with Russia. This box takes stock of recent and high frequency trade data to track flows of energy and agri-food commodities. It finds that Russia’s oil exports recovered from the post-invasion lows as some diversion of flows from sanctioning countries to Asia took place, whereas pipeline gas and agri-food commodity exports have significantly declined. The box provides an empirical assessment of the effects of the first round of sanctions in March 2022, which are estimated to have reduced Russian imports by about 15%.

  • Public wage and pension indexation in the euro area: an overview
    If the responses of wages – both private and public – and of pensions to an increase in inflation lead to second-round effects, this can make an inflationary shock more persistent, especially in the presence of automatic wage and pension indexation. This occasional paper presents an overview of the indexation schemes and other mechanisms for setting public wages and pensions across the euro area countries. It concludes that price indexation of public wages is relatively limited in the euro area, while public pensions are overwhelmingly automatically indexed, either fully or partially, to prices and wages.

  • Wage share dynamics and second-round effects on inflation after energy price surges in the 1970s and today
    This box reviews wage share dynamics and potential second-round effects on inflation at times of energy price increases. Compared to a well-known episode with some similar features – the OPEC oil embargo in October 1973 – recent energy price increases have so far had limited implications for labour income and the GDP deflator. This contained impact reflects the relatively mild terms-of-trade loss and subdued real wage dynamics today compared to the 1970s. However, the experience in the United States in both episodes shows that significant increases in the GDP deflator may arise even in the presence of weak real wage growth. A model-based analysis finds that the transmission of energy price increases to inflation, and in particular the emergence of second-round effects, has been more limited or even absent since the start of monetary union. Nevertheless, high and persistent inflation increases the risk of second-round effects materialising via higher wages and profit margins.

  • The recovery in business investment – drivers, opportunities, challenges and risks
    This article takes stock of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis on business investment dynamics in the euro area and presents evidence on the main drivers of investment, as well as the opportunities, challenges and risks for its recovery, also in investment with respect to digitalisation and greening needs. Euro area business investment fell sharply in the first half of 2020. The considerable rebound and subsequent investment dynamics have been heterogenous across countries and types of investment, and the rebound has been overall somewhat weaker in the euro area than in the United States. While the recovery has been helped by substantial support from monetary and fiscal policy, headwinds such as increased uncertainty, commodity price rises and lingering supply bottlenecks risk delaying investment decisions and leading companies to further increase savings. Meanwhile, spending on further digitalising and “greening” the economy, as reflected in available investment data, has accelerated throughout the pandemic. Investment opportunities in these areas are considerable, and so are the challenges, which are mainly related to financing, regulation and incentives.

  • Macroprudential regulation of investment funds
    The investment fund sector, the largest component of the non-bank financial system, is growing rapidly and the economy is becoming more reliant on investment fund financial intermediation. This paper builds a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with banks and investment funds. Banks grant loans and issue liquid deposits, which are valuable to households. Funds invest in corporate bonds and may hold liquidity in the form of bank deposits to meet investor redemption requests. Without regulation, funds hold insufficient deposits and must sell bonds when hit by large redemptions. Bond liquidation is costly and eventually reduces investment funds’ intermediation capacity. Even when accounting for side effects due to a reduction of deposits held by households, a macroprudential liquidity requirement improves welfare by reducing bond liquidation and by increasing the economy’s resilience to financial shocks akin to March 2020.

  • Central Bank communication with the general public: promise or false hope?
    Central banks are increasingly reaching out to the general public to motivate and explain their monetary policy actions. One major aim of this outreach is to guide inflation expectations; another is to ensure accountability and create trust. This article surveys a rapidly-growing literature on central bank communication with the public. We first discuss why and how such communication is more challenging than communicating with expert audiences. Then we survey the empirical evidence on the extent to which this new outreach does in fact affect inflation expectations and trust. On balance, we see some promise in the potential to inform the public better, but many challenges along the way.

  • Euro area fiscal policy response to the war in Ukraine and its macroeconomic impact
    This box provides a quantitative analysis of the euro area fiscal support measures introduced in response to the war in Ukraine, including measures to compensate for high energy prices, and provides estimates for the impact of this support on growth and inflation over the period 2022-24.

  • Guaranteeing freedom of payment choice: access to cash in the euro area
    In the digital age, innovation in retail payments is influencing payment choice and transforming the payment landscape. However, survey evidence indicates that for the largest share of transactions at the point of sale euro area citizens choose to pay in cash, and some of them have no other payment option. It is a responsibility of central banks to ensure adequate access to cash to guarantee consumers’ freedom to choose their method of payment and to prevent financial exclusion. This article describes the situation as regards access to cash in the euro area and the ongoing work by the Eurosystem to ensure that access to cash remains adequate.

  • Towards the holy grail of cross-border payments
    The holy grail of cross-border payments is a solution allowing cross-border payments to be immediate, cheap, universal, and settled in a secure settlement medium. The search for such a solution is as old as international commerce and the implied need to pay. This paper describes current visions how to eventually find this holy grail within the next decade, namely through (i) modernized correspondent banking; (ii) emerging cross-border FinTech solutions; (iii) Bitcoin; (iv) global stablecoins; (v) interlinked instant payment systems with FX conversion layer; (vi) interlinked CBDC with FX conversion layer. For each, settlement mechanics are explained, and an assessment is provided on its potential to be the holy grail of cross-border payments. Several solutions are suitable for improving cross-border payments significantly, and some could even be the holy grail.

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