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John Hutchinson

21 September 2021
OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES - No. 275
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Abstract
This report discusses the role of the European Union’s full employment objective in the conduct of the ECB’s monetary policy. It first reviews a range of indicators of full employment, highlights the heterogeneity of labour market outcomes within different groups in the population and across countries, and documents the flatness of the Phillips curve in the euro area. In this context, it is stressed that labour market structures and trend labour market outcomes are primarily determined by national economic policies. The report then recalls that, in many circumstances, inflation and employment move together and pursuing price stability is conducive to supporting employment. However, in response to economic shocks that give rise to a temporary trade-off between employment and inflation stabilisation, the ECB’s medium-term orientation in pursuing price stability is shown to provide flexibility to contribute to the achievement of the EU’s full employment objective. Regarding the conduct of monetary policy in a low interest rate environment, model-based simulations suggest that history-dependent policy approaches − which have been proposed to overcome lasting shortfalls of inflation due to the effective lower bound on nominal interest rates by a more persistent policy response to disinflationary shocks − can help to bring employment closer to full employment, even though their effectiveness depends on the strength of the postulated expectations channels. Finally, the importance of employment income and wealth inequality in the transmission of monetary policy strengthens the case for more persistent or forceful easing policies (in pursuit of price stability) when interest rates are constrained by their lower bound.
JEL Code
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
E24 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Employment, Unemployment, Wages, Intergenerational Income Distribution, Aggregate Human Capital
21 September 2021
OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES - No. 269
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Abstract
The ECB’s price stability mandate has been defined by the Treaty. But the Treaty has not spelled out what price stability precisely means. To make the mandate operational, the Governing Council has provided a quantitative definition in 1998 and a clarification in 2003. The landscape has changed notably compared to the time the strategy review was originally designed. At the time, the main concern of the Governing Council was to anchor inflation at low levels in face of the inflationary history of the previous decades. Over the last decade economic conditions have changed dramatically: the persistent low-inflation environment has created the concrete risk of de-anchoring of longer-term inflation expectations. Addressing low inflation is different from addressing high inflation. The ability of the ECB (and central banks globally) to provide the necessary accommodation to maintain price stability has been tested by the lower bound on nominal interest rates in the context of the secular decline in the equilibrium real interest rate. Against this backdrop, this report analyses: the ECB’s performance as measured against its formulation of price stability; whether it is possible to identify a preferred level of steady-state inflation on the basis of optimality considerations; advantages and disadvantages of formulating the objective in terms of a focal point or a range, or having both; whether the medium-term orientation of the ECB’s policy can serve as a mechanism to cater for other considerations; how to strengthen, in the presence of the lower bound, the ECB’s leverage on private-sector expectations for inflation and the ECB’s future policy actions so that expectations can act as ‘automatic stabilisers’ and work alongside the central bank.
JEL Code
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies
21 September 2021
OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES - No. 264
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Abstract
This paper summarises the findings of the Eurosystem’s Expert Group on Inflation Expectations (EGIE), which was one of the 13 work streams conducting analysis that fed into the ECB’s monetary policy strategy review. The EGIE was tasked with (i) reviewing the nature and behaviour of inflation expectations, with a focus on the degree of anchoring, and (ii) exploring the role that measures of expectations can play in forecasting inflation. While it is households’ and firms’ inflation expectations that ultimately matter in the expectations channel, data limitations have meant that in practice the focus of analysis has been on surveys of professional forecasters and on market-based indicators. Regarding the anchoring of inflation expectations, this paper considers a number of metrics: the level of inflation expectations, the responsiveness of longer-term inflation expectations to shorter-term developments, and the degree of uncertainty. Different metrics can provide conflicting signals about the scale and timing of potential unanchoring, which underscores the importance of considering all of them. Overall, however, these metrics suggest that in the period since the global financial and European debt crises, longer-term inflation expectations in the euro area have become less well anchored. Regarding the role measures of inflation expectations can play in forecasting inflation, this paper finds that they are indicative for future inflationary developments. When it comes to their predictive power, both market-based and survey-based measures are found to be more accurate than statistical benchmarks, but do not systematically outperform each other. Beyond their role as standalone forecasts, inflation expectations bring forecast gains when included in forecasting models and can also inform scenario and risk analysis in projection exercises performed using structural models. ...
JEL Code
D84 : Microeconomics→Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty→Expectations, Speculations
E31 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Price Level, Inflation, Deflation
E37 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles→Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
13 April 2021
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 2537
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Abstract
Increased investment in clean electricity generation or the introduction of a carbon tax will most likely lead to higher electricity prices. We examine the effect from changing electricity prices on manufacturing employment. Analyzing firm-level data, we find that rising electricity prices lead to a negative impact on labor demand and investment in sectors most reliant on electricity as an input factor. Since these sectors are unevenly spread across countries and regions, the labor impact will also be unevenly spread with the highest impact in Southern Germany and Northern Italy. We also identify an additional channel that leads to heterogeneous responses. When electricity prices rise, financially constrained firms reduce employment more than less constrained firms. This implies a potentially mitigating role for monetary policy.
JEL Code
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
H23 : Public Economics→Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue→Externalities, Redistributive Effects, Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
J23 : Labor and Demographic Economics→Demand and Supply of Labor→Labor Demand
Q48 : Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics, Environmental and Ecological Economics→Energy→Government Policy
30 July 2020
ECONOMIC BULLETIN - BOX
Economic Bulletin Issue 5, 2020
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Abstract
This box examines the impact of the ECB’s monetary policy measures taken in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, focusing on asset purchases and the targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO III). It outlines how the ECB’s response centred on addressing three key issues: (i) market stabilisation, (ii) providing central bank liquidity to maintain credit provision to the real economy, and (iii) ensuring that the overall monetary policy stance is sufficiently accommodative. The box sets out in detail how the ECB’s measures have indeed proved an effective and efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis, in turn providing crucial support to the real economy and to price stability across two dimensions, namely underpinning the medium-term growth and inflation outlook and removing tail risks around the baseline outlook. These measures are a proportionate response under current conditions given that the ECB’s price stability objective would have been subject to further downside risks in the absence of such measures.
JEL Code
E50 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→General
E52 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Monetary Policy
E58 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit→Central Banks and Their Policies