Euro statue Adam Berry | getty images

The ECB Goes Rogue

The ECB Governing Council has just decided to increase bond purchases further, from €60 billion to €80 billion per month, and to reduce, again, the deposit rate, to -0.4%. The monetary authorities have clearly overstepped their mandate – and the policy won't even have the desired effect.

TILBURG – The European Central Bank has done it again. At its recent meeting in Frankfurt, the ECB Governing Council decided to increase bond purchases further, from €60 billion ($67 billion) to €80 billion per month, with corporate bonds now also eligible for purchase. The deposit rate, too, was reduced once again, and now stands at -0.4%. This is far from a neutral policy – and it takes the ECB far beyond its mandate of preserving monetary stability.

The motivation behind the recent policy moves is clear: ECB President Mario Draghi is committed to curbing deflation, a serious threat to economic growth. After all, in a deflationary environment, it is more difficult to repay debt, so companies will tend to postpone investment. Recent Eurostat figures, which show that the annual consumer-price index fell by 0.2% last month, heighten concerns.

But while what is happening is technically deflation – that is, sustained price-level decreases that may be reflected in employment or other contracts – it is not structural deflation. Instead, it largely reflects low oil prices, which have fallen by more than 70% since June 2014. In fact, if we discard energy and food prices, the eurozone is in a situation of structural low inflation. That, together with the oil price, should actually benefit the economy, as it gives a boost to consumption and investment.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/tAcv1mU;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.