Download publication

Policy Contribution

Is the recent increase in long-term interest rates a threat to euro-area recovery?

After reaching historically low levels, European long-term sovereign yields experienced a notable rise at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017. This paper discusses the factors behind it and the potential implications for the euro-area economy, public finances and ECB policy

By: and Date: May 29, 2017 Topic: European Parliament

This policy contribution was prepared for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament (ECON) as an input for the Monetary Dialogue of 29 May 2017 between ECON and the President of the ECB. (http://www.europarl. europa.eu/committees/ en/econ/monetarydialogue.html). Copyright remains with the European Parliament at all times.

After reaching historically low levels in the first half of 2016, European long-term sovereign yields experienced a notable increase in the second half of 2016 and at the beginning of 2017, before stabilising in the last few months.

The nominal long-term interest rate can be decomposed into the following components: a risk-free rate, various premia to compensate investors for future inflation and potential defaults, and a term premium.

All of these components have been on a downward trend over the last few years. But some of these trends might have reversed in the second half of 2016, leading to an increase in long-term yields.

Understanding the main factors driving interest rates higher in recent months is important. If the rise in interest rates is driven by good news for the economic outlook for the euro area, it would represent a welcome normalisation of the European situation. However, if higher rates are unjustified by economic fundamentals (ie higher growth and inflation expectations), it would represent an unwarranted tightening of financial conditions that could jeopardise the recovery.

In fact, the recent movement in sovereign yields in the euro area has resulted from the combination of several factors: 1) a rise in country-specific risks arising mainly from political uncertainty in some euro-area countries; 2) a revision of market expectations for inflation, growth and the path of future interest rates because of good news about the recovery in the euro area; 3) spill-overs from increasing yields in the US coming from the normalisation of monetary policy by the Fed and a potential fiscal policy shift by the new administration; and 4) an increase in the term premium reflecting uncertainty around markets’ expectations.

The recent rise is thus mainly driven by good news and does not represent a strong tightening of financial conditions for euro-area households and companies, nor does it currently endanger public finances. Moreover, from an historical perspective (especially when compared to the significant decline in yields over recent decades), the recent rise is of a relatively moderate magnitude and very much similar to previous benign episodes of yield increases (such as in early 2015). The ECB should monitor the situation carefully but it should not be a major concern for the moment.

Nevertheless, if in the future sovereign yields from euro-area member states drift away from levels compatible with economic fundamentals, or threaten the European recovery and the return of inflation towards 2 percent (which is not the case at the moment) the EuropeanCentral Bank’s expanded toolbox should be sufficient to influence the yield curve.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

The EU needs a Brexit endgame

Britain and the EU must try to preserve the longstanding economic, political, and security links and, despite the last 31 months spent arguing over Brexit, they should try to follow a new path toward convergence.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: January 31, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

Equity finance and capital market integration in Europe

Facilitating the financing of European companies through external equity is a central ambition of European Union financial regulation, including in the European Commission’s capital markets union agenda. Against this background, the authors examine the present use of external equity by EU companies, the roles of listings on public markets, and the regulatory impediments in national laws. They assess to what extent EU market integration has overcome the crucial obstacle of shallow local capital markets.

By: Inês Goncalves Raposo and Alexander Lehmann Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: January 17, 2019
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

What 2019 could bring: A look inside the crystal ball

Economic performance prospects in Europe, the US and Asia in 2019. We start off by reviewing commentaries and predictions about the euro zone, which many commentators expect to perform below potential as uncertainties continue to dampen a still robust recovery.

By: Michael Baltensperger Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: January 14, 2019
Read article More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Director’s cut: Wrapping up 2018

With 2018 drawing to a close, and the dawn of 2019 imminent, Bruegel's scholars reflect on the economic policy developments we can expect in the new year – one that brings with it the additional uncertainty of European elections.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: December 20, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

The euro as an international currency

Is a more important international role for the euro worth pursuing? What measures would achieve this result, if it is worth pursuing?

By: Konstantinos Efstathiou and Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: December 18, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Essay / Lecture

A new statistical system for the European Union

Quality statistics are essential to economic policy. In this essay, Andreas Georgiou demonstrates the existence of fundamental risks inherent in the European Statistical System. He argues that a paradigm shift is necessary and sets out a model that would deliver the quality statistics the European Union needs.

By: Andreas Georgiou Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: December 12, 2018
Read article Download PDF

External Publication

European Parliament

How to provide liquidity to banks after resolution in Europe’s banking union

Banks deemed to be failing or likely to fail in the banking union are either put into insolvency/liquidation or enter a resolution scheme to protect the public interest. After resolution but before full market confidence is restored, the liquidity needs of resolved banks might exceed what can be met through regular monetary policy operations or emergency liquidity assistance. All liquidity needs that emerge must be met for resolution to be a success. In the euro area, this can only be done credibly for systemically important banks by the central bank.

By: Maria Demertzis, Inês Goncalves Raposo, Pia Hüttl and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: November 22, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Euro-area sovereign bond holdings: An update on the impact of quantitative easing

Since the European Central Bank’s announcement of its quantitative easing (QE) programme in January 2015, national central banks have been buying government and national agency bonds. In this post the authors look at the effect of QE on sectoral holdings of government bonds, updating the calculations published initially in May 2016.

By: Michael Baltensperger and Bowen Call Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 20, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

Euro area reform: An anatomy of the debate

A year ago, a group of 14 French and German economists joined forces with the aim of forging common proposals for euro area reforms. Their report gave rise to a lively discussion among officials and academics. This Policy Insight summarises the group's proposals and also addresses some of the points raised in a subsequent VoxEU.org debate on the topic.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: How to improve anti-money laundering efforts in Europe

In this episode, Bruegel senior fellow Nicolas Véron joins Sean Gibson to discuss the recent Policy Contribution on how to better the European Union anti-money laundering (AML) regime, a paper he has co-written with Joshua Kirschenbaum.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 30, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

A better European Union architecture to fight money laundering

A series of banking scandals in multiple EU countries has underlined the shortcomings of Europe's anti-money laundering regime. The impact of these shortcomings has been further underlined by changing geopolitics and by the new reality of European banking union. The imperative of establishing sound supervisory incentives to fight illicit finance effectively demands a stronger EU-level role in anti-money laundering supervision. The authors here detail their plan for a new European unitary architecture, centred on a new European anti-money laundering authority that would work on the basis of deep relationships with national authorities.

By: Joshua Kirschenbaum and Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 25, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

European fiscal rules require a major overhaul

In this Policy Contribution prepared for the French Conseil d’Analyse Économique, the authors assess current European fiscal rules and propose a major simplification. They recommend substituting the numerous rules with a new simple one, which would help reconcile fiscal prudence and macroeconomic stabilisation of the economy.

By: Zsolt Darvas, Philippe Martin and Xavier Ragot Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 24, 2018
Load more posts