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  • TIMBEAU Xavier (68)
  • HUBERT Paul (65)
  • CREEL Jérôme (63)
  • LE BAYON Sabine (56)
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Parallèlement aux décisions de la Réserve fédérale et de la BCE, les gouvernements multiplient les annonces de plans de relance pour tenter d’amortir les conséquences économiques de la crise sanitaire du COVID19 qui a déclenché une récession d’une ampleur et d’une vitesse inédites. Le confinement de la population et la fermeture des commerces non essentiels induisent respectivement une baisse des heures travaillées et un empêchement de la consommation ou de l’investissement combinant un choc d’offre avec un choc de demande. [Premier paragraphe]

In parallel with the decisions taken by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB), governments are stepping up announcements of stimulus packages to try to cushion the economic impact of the Covid-19 health crisis, which has triggered a recession on an unprecedented scale and pace. The confinement of the population and the closure of non-essential businesses is leading to a reduction in hours worked and in consumption and investment, combining a supply shock and demand shock. [First paragraph]

This Policy brief presents the last OFCE forecasts on the euro area countries and addresses the issue of margins for manoeuvre to cope with an extended period of economic slowdown in the area. Will fiscal rules fetter policy reaction? We forecast a growth rate of 1.2%, but negative risks remain substantial. We then discuss public debt evolution and compute the fiscal policies necessary to reach a 60% public debt over GDP target in 2040. The fiscal consolidation appears unrealistic in some countries, questioning the credibility of this target. In addition, we investigate the (moderate) effect of interest rate on the fiscal consolidation requirement. Finally, the very notion of fiscal space will depend on the speed of adjustment of public debt and on the level of interest rates.

in OFCE Policy Brief Publié en 2019-12
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This Policy brief analyses the recent expansionary decisions of the ECB in September 2019, which are now under scrutiny and have even been criticized. ■ Recent facts confirm the need of an expansionary monetary policy, as inflation expectations are still decreasing and credit remains weak. ■ We pay a special attention to the three types of risk evoked in the public debate. ■ First, it has been argued that low interest rates could increase the households saving rate due to an income effect. We show that this does not materialize on recent data. We observe such a correlation only for Germany, and this already before 2008, casting some doubt on the direction of the causality. ■ Second, it is argued that the banks' profits are at risk because of low interest rates. We show that banks' profits are steady and are recovering since 2012, and that the new measures are not expected to have a negative effect on bank's profits. ■ Third, using a macro-finance assessment of financial imbalances, we do not observe the emerging of bubbles on housing and stock market. ■ Although the downside should be carefully analysed, we conclude that the critics of the recent expansionary monetary policy does not rely on sound evidence. ■ Finally, and in any case, a fiscal expansion would reduce the need for expansionary policies. A discussion of the euro area fiscal stance is needed.

Time is ripe for a review of the ECB strategy: the economic context and the audience for communication have changed, and the tools for policy decisions and for analysing the environment have expanded. The definition of the inflation target, the twopillar strategy and the use of “non-standard” policy measures need discussion. A change in the ECB mandate is also worth discussing for it would permit to evaluate the current strategy and mandate against an alternative. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

Après un pic de croissance en 2017, l'activité économique mondiale donne des signes d'essoufflement. En 2018, le PIB mondial a progressé de 3,3 % contre 3,5 % un an plus tôt. Les nuages ont continué à s'accumuler au cours du premier semestre 2019 en lien avec des tensions géopolitiques accrues. En Europe, les conditions du Brexit restent incertaines et la situation politique en Italie connaît de nouveaux rebondissements. La guerre commerciale sino-américaine se poursuit et un nouveau front entre les États-Unis et l'Europe s'ouvre, élevant le degré d'incertitude. Les enquêtes de confiance se sont dégradées, en particulier dans l'industrie, touchée également par une crise du secteur automobile. Dans un contexte marqué par la poursuite du changement de modèle de croissance chinois et la perspective de fin du cycle d'expansion en Allemagne ou aux États-Unis, ces différents signaux laissent entrevoir la poursuite et l'amplification du ralentissement en 2019 et 2020. La croissance a déjà perdu 1,8 point dans la zone euro entre la fin de l'année 2017 et mi-2019 avec une forte chute de la croissance allemande. Aux États-Unis, l'évolution récente reflète un atterrissage de la croissance mais à un niveau qui reste supérieur à celui de la zone euro. La croissance a été plus volatile au Royaume-Uni, alors que les conditions du Brexit ne sont toujours pas éclaircies. Après un bon premier trimestre, le PIB a reculé au deuxième trimestre. Parmi les pays émergents, l'Inde et la Chine voient leur croissance diminuer. La situation sur le marché du travail ne reflète pas encore cette dégradation du climat conjoncturel. Les taux de chômage ont baissé dans la plupart des pays, atteignant des points historiquement bas comme aux États-Unis ou en Allemagne ou retrouvant le niveau d'avant la Grande récession comme dans la zone euro. L'évolution de la croissance mondiale est donc suspendue à des accords politiques et commerciaux qui n'ont pu être finalisés jusqu'ici. Le risque de négociations rompues sur le commerce ou d'un Brexit précipité provoquerait une récession au Royaume-Uni et entraînerait la croissance mondiale dans une zone de turbulences bien plus fortes avec un risque de récession. Dans ce contexte se pose la question de la capacité des autorités monétaires et budgétaires à amortir le ralentissement et une éventuelle récession. La baisse des taux redonne de fait des marges de manœuvre aux pays européens pour mener des politiques de soutien à la croissance.

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With the economic slowdown in the euro area, questions arise as to whether the ECB retains some economic and political margins for manoeuvre after a decade of active policies. In this note, we highlight three possible monetary policy developments. We discuss their pros and cons according to four dimensions: political constraints, technical constraints, independence and interactions with fiscal policy.

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We investigate the role of both ECB’s asset purchases and financial stress during the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis. We explain the evolution of long-term interest rates for the euro area as a whole and for some Member States since the ECB started to purchase securities for monetary policy purposes. We address the potential endogeneity between unconventional monetary policies and financial stress, and control for four categories of fundamentals: macroeconomic, international, financial and expectations. We find that expansionary unconventional monetary shocks have reduced the level of sovereign yields, whereas exogenous shocks to financial stress have had no effect. This result is robust to an ARCH representation, to a longer sample and to a panel estimation. In addition, we show that country-specific financial stress has had a positive impact on the change in sovereign yields, while unconventional monetary shocks have had a negative effect. Our results suggest that ECB’s unconventional policies have been effective in mitigating sovereign risks across the different Eurozone countries.

In the euro area growth is holding up but the general outlook is less bright than in recent years. The anticipated slowdown largely results from the gradual attenuation of the post-Great Recession recovery momentum and the convergence of growth rates towards a lower potential growth path. It also coincides with a revival of political turmoil, consequently emphasizing the urgency to deal with external downsize risk by strengthening internal sources of growth—investment and private consumption. The sun has been shining but the opportunity for structural repair has not been taken. Hence, imbalances within the euro area need to be addressed in order to achieve sustainable development. The increase of public debt is one of the main legacies of the crisis. While it is currently declining, long-run simulations suggest that without further consolidation, the public debt-to-GDP ratio will not reach the arbitrary 60% target by 2035 in a number of countries. To top it off, countries that are concerned are those whose unemployment rate remains above its pre-crisis level, yet the implementation of a new fiscal consolidation would result in higher employment. It thus raises the question of this rule's sustainability. The euro area as a whole has a large trade surplus, which favors pressures for the appreciation of the euro, which can reduce growth prospects. Unlike the period before the crisis, the imbalance is clearly concentrated in surplus countries. Finally, the aforementioned imbalances make governance reforms more urgent than ever. Until now, progress in this area has proved rather timid. This work led us to three key policy insights. First, the structural adjustment needed to bring back public debt to its target would weigh on the reduction of unemployment. Euro area countries can pursue an additional fiscal consolidation provided output gap is closed, and countries with fiscal leeway should use it to sustain growth in the euro area as a whole. Secondly, the ongoing debate on the reform of the economic governance of the euro area must pay more attention to the evolution of nominal prices and wages, in order to reduce the sources of divergence. In the same time, the need to strengthen wage bargaining systems by giving the social partners a greater role is important. Finally yet importantly, the need for a greater automatic stabilization, including of a cross-border nature, in monetary union is undisputed. The proposals under discussion do go to some extent in this direction and deserve support.

De nombreux travaux menés sur données américaines suggèrent qu'une inversion de la courbe des taux est suivie d'une récession dans un délai moyen de 12 mois. L'aplatissement de la pente des taux observé depuis la fin de l'année 2018 aux États-Unis fait donc ressurgir les craintes d'un ralentissement brutal de l'activité. L'objectif de cet article est alors d'analyser l'information contenue dans la structure par terme des taux d'intérêt afin non seulement de vérifier la pertinence de cette relation pour les États-Unis mais aussi d'en tester la pertinence pour la France et la zone euro. Nos estimations confirment l'existence d'une relation robuste entre la pente de la courbe des taux et la croissance américaine. Les résultats montrent bien qu'une inversion de la courbe des taux accroît la probabilité que les États-Unis subissent une récession dans les mois qui suivront l'inversion. Néanmoins, relativement aux épisodes passés d'inversion de la courbe des taux, l'épisode actuel suggère un risque de récession limité. Par ailleurs, les estimations effectuées pour la France et la zone euro indiquent que l'information contenue dans la courbe des taux est beaucoup trop faible pour prévoir les récessions ou la croissance.

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