The consequences of prolonged low interest rates in Europe
Monetary policymakers are becoming preoccupied with the risks of persistently low interest rates to Europe’s still fragile economic recovery. Ultra-easy credit is creating growing economic distortions and asset bubbles, while reviving volatility and risk in financial markets. The European Central Bank realizes it must “normalize” rates, but it worries that sudden tightening could precipitate a financial crisis that could be as bad or worse than 2008-2009.
The Swiss franc 2.0
The Swiss economy is doing remarkably well. Though it is growing only slowly, its companies are competitive, unemployment is virtually absent, inflation is close to zero and public debt is under control. One would therefore expect the Swiss National Bank to abstain from taking an active role in monetary policy or manipulating interest rates and exchange rates. Yet, last June the SNB announced that it intends to play an active role, and that it will expand its money supply to enhance growth and avoid deflation. These explanations are not convincing – the key is somewhere else: bruised Swiss manufacturers.
Opinion: Confusing statements on money and trade
Janet Yellen is not worried about another global financial crisis. Mario Draghi and even Warren Buffet bemoan “inequality.” But no one seems to be taking seriously the problems artificially cheap money is causing to the global economy. With such a fragile global financial situation, free trade could be a big help – but protectionism is on the rise. Could the upcoming G20 meeting bring substantive progress on that count?
Opinion: Can Emmanuel Macron change France?
After winning France’s presidency, the easy part is over for Emmanuel Macron. Now he must shift from faux outsider to the country’s first real reformer in decades. To succeed, he will need to take on a political establishment only too eager to jump on his bandwagon.
GIS Dossier: The strangely resilient euro
The euro has been remarkably stable during its 15-year existence as a major currency. That has not always been a good thing for the European economy. But the real concerns for the single currency hinge on politics and survival.
QE has failed. What comes next?
Eurozone economies have been subjected to expansionary monetary policy for almost five years, and the easy-money approach has failed to jump-start demand and ignite growth. As central bankers begin to face this reality, they may have to choose between shoring up government indebtedness and letting banks go bust, or giving bankers a chance to operate and letting governments default. Which will they choose?
Central banks and corporate bonds
The latest scheme to have the European Central Bank buy corporate bonds is unlikely to turn quantitative easing into an effective stimulus policy. But there may other motivations at work. As a camouflaged bailout for big European banks and a bureaucratic carrot to slow corporate flight, expanded debt purchases make sense to policy makers in Brussels and Frankfurt.
Europe dancing on thin ice
A recently issued report found that low-to-negative interest rates by themselves will not redress growth in Europe. Instead, they lead to capital misallocation. Along with the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing, low rates allow governments to delay necessary reforms. GIS has warned of this for more than two years.
Loose monetary policy could be on its way out
In March, the United States Federal Reserve kept its main interest rate on hold, while the European Central Bank cut its main interest rate to zero. The moves confirmed what investors already knew: the American and European economies still have plenty of weaknesses. But despite appearances, the Fed and the ECB are on track to end their expansionary monetary policie...
Global trends: Europe’s weak spots ready to become new crises
Europe’s leaders have failed to solve the structural problems revealed by the crisis of 2008. Nor have they grappled with issues that have emerged in recent years. Examples include high public debt, the stock market bubble and distorted risk perceptions caused by the eurozone’s artificially low interest rates. For now, the situation has stabilized. Financial market...