Europe has reached the zero lower bound. After its June meeting today, the European Central Bank announced a number of policy changes (a “swarm”, according to Joseph Cotterill). Bloomberg’s Maxime Sbaihi helpfully chartified the ECB’s actions:
But will it work? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
“The lesson today: Don’t underestimate Mario Draghi. Or the ECB, for that matter”, writes the WSJ’s Moneybeat team. The biggest move is probably the -0.1% deposit rate — meaning banks have to pay the ECB in order to park their money there overnight (here’s a more detailed explainer of negative rates). This is for two reasons, says Neil Irwin: first, if it’s expensive to keep money at the ECB, banks will hopefully do something else with it, like lend it out. Second, if it is expensive in general to keep money in Europe, the ECB hopes the price of the euro will fall in currency markets and inflation will rise — something Europe desperately needs.
Frances Coppola is not impressed with the ECB’s actions. “Banks lend if they choose to – if the balance of risk versus return works in their favour. If it doesn’t, no amount of reserves will make them lend. They will hoard money instead,” she writes. Tyler Cowensays he once liked the idea of negative rates, but has since changed his mind. “I think it will represent more of a tax on future lending than a spur to current lending”. Matt O’Brien isn’t that excited, either, though for a different reason: “As usual, the ECB might be doing too little, years too late. Charging banks to park cash at the ECB would have helped more back when banks actually had lots of cash parked at the ECB”.
Cullen Roche says this negative rate policy has been tried before, in Denmark in 2012, but it didn’t really work. Could things be different this time? Maybe. However, he says, “I don’t think this is a huge deal. In fact, it’s probably more experimental than anything else”. The cut is really too small to make any impact anyway, say the Bloomberg View editors.
Paul Vigna notes that the euro originally fell against the dollar today, to just above 1.35 after opening at 1.36, but then started rising again, ending the day at 1.3661. “It’s a troubling sign that Mr. Draghi and the ECB didn’t go far enough, that he didn’t convince the market he’s making good on his 2012 pledge to do ‘whatever it takes’”, he says. —Shane Ferro
On to today’s links: