Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bundesbank chief: ECB cannot solve Eurozone crisis

Reuters reports that Jens Weidmann, the Bundesbank chief, said the ECB's monetary policy could buy time to end the Eurozone crisis, but it cannot solve the Eurozone crisis.

Please recall that Anna Schwartz, Milton Friedman's co-author, said the Fed and the policies that Ben Bernanke chose to pursue also would not end the US financial crisis.

The reason that monetary policies will not end the global financial crisis is that we are dealing with opacity in large parts of the global financial system that has expressed itself in a bank solvency led financial crisis.

Until transparency is brought back to all the opaque corners of the financial system, pricing in the global financial market is distorted and capital is misallocated.

Contributing to this distortion and misallocation are the low interest rate and quantitative easing policies being pursued by central banks.  Since they are contributing to the distortion of prices and the misallocation of capital, by definition we know central bank policies cannot end our financial crisis.

Anna Schwartz made this point when she Bernanke's policies would not end the problem of bank solvency.

The European Central Bank cannot solve the euro zone crisis, Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann told economists on Sunday, pressing the bloc's governments to get their economies in shape and tighten their fiscal rules. 
Weidmann addressed an economists' conference in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, only three days after the ECB broke with precedent by declaring that it intended to keep interest rates at record lows for an extended period and may yet cut further. 
"Monetary policy has already done a lot to absorb the economic consequences of the crisis, but it cannot solve the crisis," Weidmann said in his speech. 
"This is the consensus of the Governing Council. The crisis has laid bare structural shortcomings. As such, they require structural solutions."... 
While he does not see sufficient support in the euro zone for governments to give up sovereignty on fiscal matters to forge a fiscal union to prevent such crises in the future, Weidmann pressed them to stiffen Europe's fiscal rules. 
"To fully unleash the common currency's potential, efforts are needed on two fronts: structural reforms as well as the abolition of implicit guarantees for banks and sovereigns (government bonds)," Weidmann said. 
"In addition to stronger rules, we need to make sure that in a system of national control and national responsibility, sovereign default is possible without bringing down the financial system. Only then will we really do away with the implicit guarantee for sovereigns." 
The Bundesbank chief also called for euro zone governments to sever what he describes as the "excessively close links" between banks and sovereign governments, saying that European banks hold too many of their own governments' bonds. 
"This is because banks do not have to hold any capital against their government debt, as the risk-weight assigned to sovereign bonds is zero. 
To counteract excessive investment in sovereign bonds, Weidmann believes that the capital rules need to be changed to take account of risk and exposure levels. 
"Only then will banks be able to cope with the repercussions of sovereign default."

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