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The ECB as Lender of Last Resort for Sovereigns in the Euro Area

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  • Buiter, Willem H.
  • Rahbari, Ebrahim

Abstract

The paper establishes that sovereigns, like banks, need a lender of last resort (LoLR). In the euro area the ECB, with its estimated €3.4 trillion non-inflationary loss absorption capacity, is the only credible sovereign LoLR. The ECB/Eurosystem has been acting as sovereign LoLR through its SMP purchases of periphery sovereign debt in the secondary markets. It has also contributed, through the deeply subsidised bank funding it provided through the 3-year LTROs, half of a mechanism to purchase periphery sovereign debt in the primary issue markets. The other half has been financial repression requiring banks in Italy and Spain to purchase more of their own government’s debt than they would voluntarily and at below-market yields. We expect that, once Spain and Italy are under troika programmes, the Eurosystem will also lend to these sovereigns indirectly, through loans by the national central banks to the IMF which on-lends them to these sovereigns. We recommend that, to increase its effectiveness as LoLR, the ESM be given a banking license. To reduce the illegitimate and unaccountable abuse of the ECB/Eurosystem as a quasi-fiscal actor, we propose that all its credit risk-related losses be jointly and severally guaranteed/indemnified by the 17 euro area member states.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H. & Rahbari, Ebrahim, 2012. "The ECB as Lender of Last Resort for Sovereigns in the Euro Area," CEPR Discussion Papers 8974, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8974
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jean Pisani-Ferry & André Sapir & Guntram B. Wolff, . "EU-IMF assistance to euro area countries: an early assessment," Blueprints, Bruegel, number 779.
    2. Del Negro, Marco & Sims, Christopher A., 2015. "When does a central bank׳s balance sheet require fiscal support?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-19.
    3. Christophe Blot & Jérôme Creel & Paul Hubert & Fabien Labondance, 2014. "Les enjeux du triple mandat de la BCE," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(3), pages 175-186.
    4. Christophe Blot & Jérôme Creel & Paul Hubert & Fabien Labondance, 2014. "Dealing with the ECB's triple mandate?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/53ccj34tat8, Sciences Po.
    5. Smeets Heinz-Dieter & Schmid Anita, 2014. "Europäische Staatsschuldenkrise, Lender of last resort und Bankenunion / European sovereign debt crisis, lender of last resort and banking union," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 65(1), pages 47-74, January.
    6. Rieth, Malte & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2014. "Monetary policy, bank bailouts and the sovereign-bank risk nexus in the euro area," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100277, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Buiter, Willem H. & Rahbari, Ebrahim, 2012. "Target2 Redux: The simple accountancy and slightly more complex economics of Bundesbank loss exposure through the Eurosystem," CEPR Discussion Papers 9211, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Soldatos, Gerasimos T., 2014. "A Fiscal-Monetary Policy Scheme against Greek Indebtedness and Impoverishment - Un programma di politica fiscale-monetaria contro l’indebitamento e l’impoverimento della Grecia," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 67(2), pages 243-261.
    9. Carolina Tuckwell & António Mendonça, 2016. "The global Crisis and Unconventional Monetary Policy: ECB versus Fed," CEsA Working Papers 141, CEsA - Center for African, Asian and Latin American Studies.
    10. Peter Nedergaard & Holly Snaith, 2015. "‘As I Drifted on a River I Could Not Control’: The Unintended Ordoliberal Consequences of the Eurozone Crisis," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(5), pages 1094-1109, September.
    11. Jörg Bibow, 2015. "The euro's savior? Assessing the ECB's crisis management performance and potential for crisis resolution," IMK Studies 42-2015, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    12. Soldatos, Gerasimos T., 2014. "A Fiscal-Monetary Policy Scheme Against Greek Indebtedness and Impoverishment," MPRA Paper 57080, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Peter Spahn, 2016. "Central Bank Design in a Non-optimal Currency Union A Lender of Last Resort for Government Debt?," ROME Working Papers 201610, ROME Network.
    14. Buiter, Willem, 2014. "Central Banks: Powerful, Political and Unaccountable?," MPRA Paper 59477, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Dermot Hodson, 2013. "The Eurozone in 2012: ‘Whatever It Takes to Preserve the Euro'?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51, pages 183-200, September.
    16. Spahn, Peter, 2013. "Subprime and euro crisis: Should we blame the economists?," FZID Discussion Papers 83-2013, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    17. Fawley, Brett W. & Neely, Christopher J., 2013. "Four stories of quantitative easing," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 51-88.
    18. Kollintzas, Tryphon & Papageorgiou, Dimitris & Vassilatos, Vanghelis, 2012. "An Explanation of the Greek Crisis: "The Insiders - Outsiders Society"," CEPR Discussion Papers 8996, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Central bank; EMU; Financial repression; Lender of Last Resort; Quasi-fiscal activities; Seigniorage;

    JEL classification:

    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management

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