Talking point
European bank performance: Weak start to the year, but no disaster
After two years of recovery, European banks suffered a setback in the first quarter of 2016. Capital market revenues were hit by concerns about global economic growth and banks’ own business models. Cost cuts and a further decline in loan loss provisions helped only somewhat to smooth the fall in profitability. Still, net income was about the same as in Q1 2014, and progress continued in other areas. [more]
European integration
Promoting investment in Europe: Where do we stand with the Juncker Plan?
The Juncker Plan set out to boost investment in Europe and can show some progress so far. After operating for about a year, a total of EUR 12.8 bn financing of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) has been approved by the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund. This is expected to trigger EUR 100 bn of total investment according to estimates by the institutions. The European Commission has already called for extension of EFSI beyond the initial three year period ideally increasing its scale and scope. However, considerations about EFSI’s future need to be based on thorough evaluation of effectiveness and demonstrated added value. After the first year, there is -quite naturally- more information on activity than evidence on impact. To that effect, continuous monitoring and mid-term stock-taking are key to inform the debate about EFSI's future. [more]
European integration
The ECB must change course
Over the past century central banks have become the guardians of our economic and financial security. The Bundesbank and Federal Reserve are respected for achieving monetary stability, often in the face of political opposition. But central bankers can also lose the plot, usually by following the economic dogma of the day. When they do, their mistakes can be catastrophic.Today the behaviour of the European Central Bank suggests that it too has gone awry. After seven years of ever-looser monetary policy there is increasing evidence that following the current dogma, broad-based quantitative easing and negative interest rates, risks the long-term stability of the eurozone. [more]
European integration
Better budgeting in Europe: What can Fiscal Councils contribute?
Fiscal councils can improve the sustainability of public finances. They can increase transparency and accountability of fiscal policymaking by providing unbiased information to the public and stakeholders in the budget process. The design of their mandates, independence, and their public role are key conditions determining effectiveness. The new European Advisory Fiscal Board (EAFB) can be a valuable addition but is unlikely to be a game changer. Far-reaching reforms on the Union’s fiscal framework remain contingent on political will. Independence is crucial for fiscal councils to have an impact. This holds for both the EAFB and national fiscal councils. In addition, cooperation between the new EAFB and national bodies is a necessary requirement for a “European System of Fiscal Boards” to work effectively. [more]
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