‘Deflation could be replacing debt as the main problem – and there’s nothing to suggest the ECB is up to the job.’ So begins the linked article below by Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.
The good news in this is that worries about debt in eurozone countries are gradually receding. Indeed, this week Ireland officially ended its reliance on a bailout (of €67.5 billion) from the EU and IMF and regained financial sovereignty (see also).
The bad news is that this does not mark the end of austerity. Indeed, many eurozone countries could get stuck in a deflationary trap, with austerity policies continuing to depress aggregate demand. Eurozone inflation is less than 1% and falling. Broad money supply growth is now below that of the US dollar, the yen and sterling (see chart: click here for a PowerPoint).
The ECB has been far more cautious than central banks in other countries in acting to prevent recession and deflation. Unlike the USA, Japan and the UK, which have all engaged in extensive quantitative easing, the ECB had been reluctant to do so for fear of upsetting German opinion and taking the pressure off southern European countries to reform.
But as Eichengreen points out, the dangers of inaction could be much greater. What is more, quantitative easing is not the only option. The ECB could copy the UK approach of ‘funding for lending’ – not for housing, but for business.
Europe’s economic crisis could be mutating again The Guardian, Barry Eichengreen (10/12/13)
- What problems are created by falling prices?
- What effect would deflation have on debt and the difficulties in repaying that debt?
- What measures have already been adopted by the ECB to stimulate the eurozone economy? (Search previous articles on this site.)
- Why have such measures proved inadequate?
- What alternative policies are open to the ECB?
- What are the arguments for the ECB being given a higher inflation target (such as 3 or 4%)?
- What are the arguments for and against relaxing fiscal austerity in the eurozone at the current time?