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The Search for a Euro Area Safe Asset

Author

Listed:
  • Jeromin Zettelmeyer

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

  • Álvaro Leandro

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

Abstract

This paper evaluates four approaches to creating "safe assets" or asset portfolios for the euro area: (1) a diversified portfolio of senior tranches of sovereign debt ("national tranching"); (2) a senior security backed by a diversified pool of national sovereign debt ("ESBies"); (3) debt issued by a senior financial intermediary, backed by a diversified pool of national debt ("E-bonds"); and (4) debt issued by a euro area budget or a leveraged wealth fund, based on member state contributions or dedicated direct revenue sources. None of these approaches envisages explicit guarantees by member states, and all could potentially produce safe assets in sufficient quantities to replace euro area sovereign bond holdings in euro area banks. At the same time, the four approaches differ across several important dimensions. A euro area budget or wealth fund could create the largest volume of safe assets, followed by ESBies, E-bonds, and national tranching. A euro area budget or wealth fund is also likely to have the lowest impact on the structure and liquidity of national bond markets, while national tranching would have the largest impact. ESBies and E-bonds occupy an intermediate position. ESBies and potentially bonds issued by a euro area budget would offer their holders greater protection from deep national defaults than the other two proposals. Both ESBies and national tranching would avoid cross-country redistribution by construction, whereas E-bonds and a euro area budget could have significant distributional consequences, depending on their design. E-bonds are unique in that they would raise the marginal cost of sovereign debt issuance at higher levels of debt, thereby exerting fiscal discipline, without necessarily raising average debt costs for lower-rated borrowers.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeromin Zettelmeyer & Álvaro Leandro, 2018. "The Search for a Euro Area Safe Asset," Working Paper Series WP18-3, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp18-3
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. To Form a More Perfect Union
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2018-05-28 11:38:54

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    Cited by:

    1. Alogoskoufis, Spyros & Langfield, Sam, 2018. "Regulating the doom loop," ESRB Working Paper Series 74, European Systemic Risk Board.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sovereign debt; banking crisis; euro crisis; safe assets; ESBies;

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates

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