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The ECB Needs to Explain Itself

Ambiguity is hampering effective policymaking by the European Central Bank and leaving market participants wondering what to expect. A review of the ECB's policy framework would help to eliminate such ambiguity – and place the Bank on much sounder footing for a new era of leadership.

ZURICH – Finland’s central bank governor, Olli Rehn, has reiterated his call for the European Central Bank to conduct a long-overdue review of its policy framework. The upcoming change of leadership at the institution – with Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director since 2011, likely to succeed Mario Draghi as president – offers an important opportunity to heed that call.

When the ECB was established 20 years ago, central banks were generally not too clear about the details of their policy frameworks. At that time, some ambiguity may have been helpful, because of the flexibility it offered when the ECB started operating. Furthermore, it allowed central bankers with different experiences and perspectives to agree on a framework, even though they may not have agreed on its precise details.

But the world has changed considerably since then, and the public is now demanding far more clarity. How can the ECB offer that, 16 years after the last review of its monetary-policy framework?

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