Draghi softens tone on austerity

Click here to view the original article.

[In a significant change in tone on the eurozone’s fiscal rules, Mr Draghi said countries should be encouraged to spend more within existing EU regulations that limit budget deficits to 3 per cent of gross domestic product... The ECB president endorsed a proposal from Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, for a €300bn investment programme to boost growth... “I am confident that the package of measures we announced in June will indeed provide the intended boost to demand and we stand ready to adjust our policy stance further,” Mr Draghi said. See also: French Economy Minister Says Austerity Measures Sapping Growth. *RON*]

By Claire Jones, Peter Spiegel and Robin Harding, Financial Times, 22 August 2014

©Bloomberg
Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, has signalled he is becoming increasingly concerned about high unemployment and low inflation in the eurozone by backing calls for countries to be allowed to apply strict rules on government deficits more flexibly.

In a significant change in tone on the eurozone’s fiscal rules, Mr Draghi said countries should be encouraged to spend more within existing EU regulations that limit budget deficits to 3 per cent of gross domestic product. Germany, the eurozone’s largest and strongest economy, is one member state that could lift growth by boosting investment and cutting taxes.

The remarks, which move the ECB much closer to the position adopted by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, will be welcomed in Paris and Rome. Mr Renzi has made easing the eurozone’s fiscal restraints one of the hallmarks of his young tenure and has attracted criticism from the ECB president for his failure to reform the region’s third-largest economy.

The existing flexibility within the fiscal rules could also be “used to better address the weak recovery and to make room for the cost of needed structural reforms”, Mr Draghi said in a speech in Jackson Hole on Friday.

The ECB president indicated that he was reluctant to engage in quantitative easing without government co-operation, arguing mass bond purchases needed to be supported by looser fiscal policy and structural reforms to strengthen the region’s recovery.

However, in a signal that the governing council could soon back more action, Mr Draghi admitted inflation expectations had become unstuck and said the governing council would “acknowledge” these developments.

Well anchored inflation expectations were a major factor in the ECB’s decision to put off more easing.

Mr Renzi’s aggressive push on fiscal rules this year, which was tacitly backed by France’s President François Hollande, has caused consternation in the European Commission and in Germany, where officials believe that watering down rules adopted at the height of the eurozone crisis could send a dangerous signal to financial markets.

Last month, Jens Weidmann, the influential president of the Bundesbank, and Wolfgang Schäuble, the powerful German finance minister, expressed thinly veiled disdain for calls for more flexibility on the fiscal rules.

“The only problem that some countries have is that they have to stick to the rules,” Mr Schäuble said at the time.


Joblessness in the eurozone stuck close to record highs at 11.5 per cent while inflation in July fell to 0.4 per cent, less than a quarter of the ECB’s target of just under 2 per cent.

Mr Draghi’s remarks contrasted with a speech given in Jackson Hole by Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the US Federal Reserve, who highlighted extreme uncertainty about how many more jobs the world’s largest economy could create before stoking inflation.

Ms Yellen’s move to a more neutral position on the amount of spare capacity in the US labour market marks a shift from her strong signals this year that there are too many “underemployed” people in the US – those who cannot get as much work as they would like – and raises the prospect of earlier US rate rises.

Mr Draghi also called for explicit policy co-ordination between the currency area’s monetary guardian and its governments.

“It would be helpful for the overall stance of policy if fiscal policy could play a greater role alongside monetary policy, and I believe there is scope for this, while taking into account our specific initial conditions and legal constraints,” the ECB president said.

“Stronger co-ordination among the different national fiscal stances should in principle allow us to achieve a more growth-friendly overall fiscal stance for the euro area.”

The ECB president endorsed a proposal from Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, for a €300bn investment programme to boost growth.


Mr Draghi signalled that the ECB’s governing council was unlikely to resort to quantitative easing until policy makers had assessed the impact of the policy steps unveiled in June. These included charging lenders for the reserves they park with the ECB, an unprecedented step for any major central bank.

“I am confident that the package of measures we announced in June will indeed provide the intended boost to demand and we stand ready to adjust our policy stance further,” Mr Draghi said.

He also insisted that governments should take further steps to reform their labour markets.

“The way back to higher employment is a policy mix that combines monetary, fiscal and structural measures at the union level and at the national level. This will allow each member of our union to achieve a sustainably high level of employment,” he said.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kinder Morgan's $771,000 donation to B.C. Liberals raises red flags while Premier shifts to damage control

Israel and US Hide Names of Companies Supporting Israeli Settlements

Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is?