Die große Lockerung

BRÜSSEL: Seit Ausbruch der Finanzkrise von 2008 sind inzwischen mehr als drei Jahre vergangen. Wer tut mehr, um eine Konjunkturerholung herbeizuführen: Europa oder die USA? Die US Federal Reserve hat zwei Runden der sogenannten „quantitativen Lockerung“ abgeschlossen, und die Europäische Zentralbank hat zwei Schüsse aus ihrer großen Kanone – der sogenannten langfristigen Refinanzierungsoperation (LTRO) – abgefeuert und den Banken der Eurozone für drei Jahre preiswerte Kredite im Volumen von mehr als einer Billion Euros zur Verfügung gestellt.

Eine ganze Weile wurde argumentiert, die Fed habe mehr getan, um die Konjunktur anzukurbeln, weil sie (unter Verwendung des Jahres 2007 als Vergleichsgröße) ihre Bilanz proportional stärker ausgeweitet habe als die EZB. Aber inzwischen hat die EZB aufgeholt. Ihre Bilanz beläuft sich auf rund 2,8 Billionen Euro, fast 30% vom BIP der Eurozone, verglichen mit der Bilanz der Fed von rund 20% vom BIP der USA.

Doch es gibt einen qualitativen Unterschied zwischen den beiden, der wichtiger ist als das Bilanzvolumen: Die Fed kauft nahezu ausschließlich risikolose Vermögenswerte an (wie US-Staatsanleihen), während die EZB (viel kleinere Mengen) riskanter Vermögenswerte aufgekauft hat, deren Markt am austrocknen war. Zudem verleiht die Fed nur sehr wenig an Banken, während die EZB im enormen Umfang Kredite an schwache Banken verliehen hat (die auf dem Markt keinen Kredit mehr bekamen). Kurz gefasst: Quantitative Lockerung ist nicht dasselbe wie Kreditlockerung.

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