This speech was delivered by Guntram Wolff at the Informal ECOFIN Meeting in Bucharest on 5 April 2019.
This Policy Contribution was written for the Informal ECOFIN Meeting, Bucharest, 5 April 2019. The authors look at the EU’s economic agenda, discussing the priorities for the next five years.
Who tends to get the blame for the Euro crisis in national media? What do national politicians think about the EU and EMU?
The authors map how much fiscal debt is in the hands of domestic and foreign holders in the euro area. While the market for debt was much more international prior to the crisis, this trend has since been reversed. At the same time, central banks have become important holders of fiscal debt.
With the end of the Greece support programme, authorities now have scope to focus on the legacy of NPLs and excess private-sector debt. Two wide-ranging schemes are under discussion. They should be assessed in terms of required state support, likely investor appetite for problematic bank assets, and institutional capacity to manage a complex new organisation tasked with debt restructuring.
Is a more important international role for the euro worth pursuing? What measures would achieve this result, if it is worth pursuing?
The deal reached on euro-zone reform at the December 4th Eurogroup is not ground-breaking. However, it contains a number of incremental but potentially key technical reforms – in particular regarding the ESM toolkit. Some constitute an improvement, but there are also clear flaws that should be corrected at the Euro Summit.
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.
This Policy Contribution looks at the evolution of public debt in Belgium and Italy since 1990 and uses the debt dynamics equation to explain the contrasting evolution in the two countries in the run-up to the introduction of the euro, during the early years of the euro and since the beginning of the crisis, arguing that the euro could have been used also by Italy to undertake sufficiently large fiscal adjustment.
The ECB should refine its collateral framework in order to continue protecting its balance sheet without putting at risk the safe-asset status of sovereign bonds of the euro area.
This event featured a presentation by Ashoka Mody of his new book, which argues that the Euro is at the root of the problems the European Union faces today.
Strengthening the ESM can help to prevent crises and enhance deeper financial integration in the euro area. Yet, mislabelling the ESM as “European Monetary Fund” will not do the trick. Instead, a revamp of its precautionary credit line could create a meaningful instrument, built on the existing policy framework, by incentivising strong economic policies and guarding against financial market turbulence. However, the devil is in the details. The design of such a facility has to be well thought through, to navigate difficult trade-offs.