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This article discusses the fact that the ECB is taking negligible steps towards helping the Eurozone economy in terms of monetary policy.
The ECB is facing major opposition from Germany, which fears that the launch of large-scale and proper QE might result in uncontrollable hyperinflation – a repeat of pre-World War 2 German economy.
As opposed to the QE that was used by the Fed and is being used by the BoJ, the ECB is instead enacting ‘penance’ measures – more to put up a show rather than to improve the economy, according to Pritchard.
Mr. Mario Draghi, the head of the ECB, has hinted at a EUR 1tn spend. As much as it sounds similar to QE, it is not, for two major reasons:
1) Central banks that enact QE take the risk on their own balance sheet; this is to say, whatever happens to the value of the sovereign bonds they purchase, they deal with it. Instead of doing so, they are offering LTROs (explained in the article) to banks in exchange for collateral.
2) The ECB is spending nowhere near the EUR 1tn promise – rather, its spending amounts to about EUR 450bn, perhaps lower. This equates to roughly EUR 17.5bn a month (and this spending will not start until the end of the year), 10 times less than the spending by the Bank of Japan.
Many economists also say that the lowered interest rates will have a negligible effect on the overall market at this point, i.e. conventional expansionary monetary policy just does not work for the Eurozone as of now.
1) Deleveraging: Where banks lower the amount lent to the public so that banks can keep up with the capital adequacy ratio.
2) Capital adequacy ratios: To protect bank depositors, governments have come up with this concept. The idea is that a bank must have a certain amount of capital in its bank, so that if the bank incurs losses and cannot pay depositors back, the banks can use some of its own capital to cover the losses. Usually, when capital adequacy ratios are discussed, the Basel rules are mentioned as well. These rules (Basel I, Basel II and Basel III) dictate the amount of capital needed in the banks. The more, the better for the depositors.
One thing worth discussing is the sixteenth paragraph: “Nor is it clear… said Mr. Roberts from RBS”. The statement being made here is that unless the ECB takes on bad bonds, there is no point in bothering with QE in the EU. The problem with this statement is that no economy that has practiced or is practicing QE (Japan, USA and UK) has taken on bad bonds; they have only ever taken sovereign (government) bonds. Government bonds are steady and trustworthy, and very reliable bonds to purchase. For a long time, the government and the central bank of a country have been split, where it is the government’s job to take on bad loans and liquidate frozen banks. The central bank has two objectives: to maintain steady and reasonable inflation, and to reduce unemployment. If an economy were to be taking on “bad stuff”, as Mr. Roberts from RBS (quoted in that paragraph) says, it would be only from the part of the individual governments, not the ECB.