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Easy Money through the Back Door: The Markets vs. the ECB

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  • Jörg Bibow

    (Univ of Hamburg & Jerome Levy Econ Inst)

Abstract

This paper assesses the performance of the European Central Bank (ECB) over the first two years of Europe's new policy regime. The verdict is that the ECB was not actually in charge, as the markets took over and imposed easy money on the euro zone. It is argued that the causes for the ECB's loss of effective control over the currency and monetary stance lie partly in the low-growth legacies of unsound macro policies inflicted upon Europe over the 1990s. The ECB made matters worse, though, first by failing to communicate effectively and coherently with financial market participants and, second, by playing against the markets' dominant theme: growth. This resulted in a time-inconsistency problem: attempts to prop up the euro through narrowing the current interest rate spread vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar were perceived as risking the euro zone's growth prospects and hence the sustainability of tighter money in the future. Under such conditions, interest rate hikes might then weaken rather than strengthen the currency. A more balanced and proactive attitude toward growth, and medium-term orientation as regards inflation, might have both reduced inflation in the short run and improved growth in the longer run. The recent short run of impressive GDP and employment growth spurred by easy money embarrasses the structural myth, and underlines that the ECB was not actually in charge.

Suggested Citation

  • Jörg Bibow, 2001. "Easy Money through the Back Door: The Markets vs. the ECB," Macroeconomics 0103004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0103004
    Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 36; figures: included
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    Cited by:

    1. Jorg Bibow, 2004. "Fiscal Consolidation: Contrasting Strategies & Lessons From International Experiences," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_400, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. Jorg Bibow, 2005. "Refocusing the ECB on Output Stabilization and Growth through Inflation Targeting?," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_425, Levy Economics Institute.
    3. Jörg Bibow, 2004. "Reflections on the current fashion for central bank independence," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(4), pages 549-576, July.
    4. Eckhard Hein, 2002. "Monetary policy and wage bargaining in the EMU: restrictive ECB policies, high unemployment, nominal wage restraint and inflation above the target," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 55(222), pages 299-337.
    5. Jorg Bibow, 2005. "Bad for Euroland, Worse for Germany: The ECB's Record," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_429, Levy Economics Institute.
    6. Jorg Bibow, 2004. "Assessing the ECB's Performance since the Global Slowdown: A Structural Policy Bias Coming Home to Roost?," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_409, Levy Economics Institute.
    7. Jorg Bibow, 2003. "On the 'burden' of German unification," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 56(225), pages 137-169.
    8. Jorg Bibow, 2002. "The Monetary Policies of the European Central Bank and the Euro's (Mal-)Performance: A stability-oriented assessment," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 31-50.
    9. Joreg Bibow, 2005. "Refocusing the ECB on Output Stabilization and Growth through Inflation Targeting?," Macroeconomics 0507017, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Jörg Bibow, 2006. "Europe's Quest for Monetary Stability. Central Banking Gone Astray," International Journal of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 24-43.
    11. Paolo PAESANI, 2003. "Will the Monetary Pillar Stay? A Few Lessons from the UK," Economics Working Papers ECO2003/10, European University Institute.
    12. Jörg Bibow, 2001. "On the 'Burden' of German Unification: The Economic Consequences of Messrs. Waigel and Tietmeyer," Macroeconomics 0106004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Joerg Bibow, 2006. "Inflation Persistence and Tax-Push Inflation in Germany and in the Euro Area: A Symptom of Macroeconomic Mismanagement?," IMK Studies 01-2006, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.

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