Robert Kahn

Macro and Markets

Robert Kahn analyzes economic policies for an integrated world.

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Showing posts for "Euro Zone"

Addressing Economic Populism in Europe

by Robert Kahn

My latest global economic monthly looks at rising economic populism in Europe and how it constrains the capacity of policymakers to get a robust recovery going and deal with shocks. Some of the drivers of populism—on the left and right, in creditor and debtor countries—are cyclical but many including globalization, income inequality and insecurity are likely to be more persistent and resent a long-term threat to greater European integration. The strong showing of the National Front in last weekend’s French regional elections, Denmark’s referendum rejection of further EU integration, and Britain’s debate over its EU future are recent reminders of the fraying consensus on further integration, which has strong implications for economic cooperation. Easy money from the European Central Bank (ECB) can only do so much, and a broader policy response including a faster pace of economic integration and more flexible fiscal policies now are needed.

ECB and the Limits of QE

by Robert Kahn

Markets were clearly underwhelmed by the European Central Bank’s (ECB) easing announcement yesterday, marginally cutting its (already negative) deposit rate and extending the duration of its asset purchase program (QE). I think the Financial Times had it about right. It would have been better to do more, but what they did was helpful and it retains the capacity for further action. Still, as Ted Liu and I argued yesterday, the main channel through which QE is going to boost activity in Europe (as the Federal Reserve normalizes) is through the exchange rate, which in the context of weak global demand and emerging market capital outflows may be a modest source of stimulus. The market reaction also underscores the challenge for a central bank to communicate its intentions when the governing council is divided and it is trying to be data dependent–i.e., it is hard to communicate what you don’t know. We also agree with the FT’s bottom line: at this time, monetary policy alone cannot be expected to carry forward a robust European recovery.  Fiscal and structural policies must do their part.

European Central Bank Rate Move, a Turning Point for Europe

by Robert Kahn and Ted Liu

At the governing council’s meeting today, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it will cut benchmark deposit rate to -0.3 percent, extend its quantitative easing (QE) program to at least March 2017, and broaden the scope of assets purchased. On several occasions since October, ECB President Mario Draghi has hinted an easing was coming, stating that the central bank will do what they must to “raise inflation and inflation expectations as fast as possible.” There is a strong economic case for action: inflation has stalled at levels well below the ECB’s target inflation rate of below but close to 2 percent (headline inflation in October was 0.1 percent), growth remains weak, and unemployment rates are still sky high. But, as in the United States, there are growing doubts about how much a boost of QE will provide to the European economy. A few thoughts on why the ECB’s move still matters.

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Greece’s Bailout Dead End

by Robert Kahn

It should be no surprise that eurozone finance ministers failed to agree to disburse €2 billion in bailout money to the Greek government today or to release bank recapitalization funds. Despite optimism following the recent announcement of a relatively benign program for recapitalizing Greek banks, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Greek program again is headed off track.  The government has fallen behind its reform commitments, and a substantial number of additional end-year measures look unlikely to be met. Even with substantial forbearance from Greece’s European partners, it now looks likely that conclusion of the first review of its program will be delayed and that the promised debt relief negotiation will come only in 2016. Further, an eventual International Monetary Fund (IMF) program is likely to be small and leave a large unfilled financing gap that will further strain Greece’s relations with its European neighbors.  It is hard to predict how long Greek voters will continue to support a government that cannot deliver on its economic pledges of low debt and sustainable growth.

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The Fallacy of Euro-Area Discipline

by Robert Kahn

Throughout the Greek crisis, policymakers have acted on the assumption that Greece’s best chance at sustainable growth is through the conditionality and discipline of an IMF-EU adjustment program. Already, the desire to stay in the eurozone and receive the promised rescue package of at least €86 billion has led to significant legislative measures, and the ESM and IMF programs under negotiation will be comprehensive in the scope of their structural reforms. In contrast, “Grexit” would be chaotic, and at least initially, make it difficult for any government to reach consensus on strong policies needed to restore durable growth. In that environment, the boost to growth from devaluation could prove short-lived.

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Taking Stock of the Greece Crisis

by Robert Kahn

Yesterday, John Taylor and I testified on the Greece crisis before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation.  A summary of my testimony is here (including a link to my written statement), and the full video of our discussion is here. I continue to see Grexit as the most likely outcome, as we are at the very early stage of a complex adjustment effort that will face serious economic and political headwinds in Greece, and will be extraordinarily difficult to sustain. But whether Greece is ultimately better off in or out of the euro, a competitive and growing Greece is an objective the United States shares with our European partners.

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Greece: The Hardest Month

by Robert Kahn
Greek Banks Reopen People wait to enter a National Bank branch in Athens on July 20, 2015. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Greek banks reopened today, but there isn’t much you can do at them. Capital controls and withdrawal limits remain in effect, money transfers are barred (except for tax, social security or a few other allowed domestic transactions) and new accounts or loans effectively ruled out. Greeks now will be able to deposit checks, access safety deposit boxes, and withdraw money without an ATM card. All good things, though I suspect that any political boost from the visuals relating to reopening will proved short-lived.

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Greece’s Program: First Hurdle Cleared

by Robert Kahn
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras battled to win lawmakers' approval on July 16 for a bailout deal to keep Greece in the euro. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters) Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras battled to win lawmakers' approval on July 16 for a bailout deal to keep Greece in the euro. (Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

The Greek parliament last night passed the first package of measures required by the government’s agreement with European governments reached over the weekend, winning 229 of 300 votes in the parliament. There were a large number of Syriza defections (39) that would appear at minimum to require a cabinet reshuffling. Some local analysts predict the government could fall, though most expect that if that happened Prime Minister Tsipras would reemerge as prime minister in a new coalition government.

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Greece and Europe: A Deal to Talk About a Deal

by Robert Kahn
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande at a eurozone leaders' summit in Brussels on July 12, 2015. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande at a eurozone leaders' summit in Brussels on July 12, 2015.

European leaders, meeting tonight in Brussels, appear to have given Greece something close to a take-it-or-leave-it offer.  If the Greek government can pass far-reaching reforms by Wednesday, creditors will provide bridge financing to meet near-term debt payments and cash to reopen the banks.  These steps also would allow a rebuilding of trust and allow negotiations on a third bailout that could total €86 billion to proceed.

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