For a Central Bank serving the citizen

 7500 euros: this is the amount that every citizen of the euro area would have received if the European Central Bank (ECB) had distributed directly to the population the 2.6 trillion euros it has preferred to inject into the financial markets since Four years.

This shocking figure, revealed by the NGO Positive Money Europe, poses a simple and radical question: would not monetary policy be more effective if the newly created money was directly paid to European households?

By pouring trillions of euros into the financial system since 2015, the ECB has certainly helped to stem the euro crisis. The other side of the coin is that all this extra money has irrigated the real economy only in a small proportion. This explains why the ECB is failing to achieve its primary objective of aiming for an annual inflation rate of close to 2%.

Where did the money go then? It basically went to inflate the prices of all kinds of financial assets. So much so that the monetary policy of the ECB has led to an increase in inequalities between citizens: it is mainly the rich who have benefited from rising stock prices and real estate prices, while low incomes have budget restrictions imposed by European governments. Thus, the argument of the ECB that low rates also benefit young people wishing to acquire a first home is illusory since the rate cut is offset by an increase in property prices. Admittedly, credit rates are lower, but you have to go into debt twice more and for longer …

the President-designate of the ECB

By taking office at the head of the ECB on November 1, Christine Lagarde will have to remedy this negative social report. Interviewed by MEPs at the beginning of September, she remained vague about this: although she did not explicitly mention the idea of ​​freeing money for European households, Mario Draghi’s successor did not rule out the possibility of using new unconventional tools in the future.

But the fight against inequalities is far from the only challenge that awaits it.

With regard to the climate issue, the Frankfurt institution also has a very bad newsletter. In this area, its software remained stuck in the 1950s. Quick updates will be necessary to Ms. Lagarde to green monetary policy.

A single figure makes it possible to measure the extent of the problem: more than 60% of the securities bought by the ECB have financed companies working in the most emitting sectors of greenhouse gases [1].

For example, multinationals such as Total, Daimler and BMW have benefited from the ECB’s private debt buyback policy. Conversely, the green economy sectors are under-represented.

It’s absurd. And it is especially irresponsible on the part of an institution as powerful as the European Central Bank.

During her hearing in Parliament, Christine Lagarde nonetheless made encouraging remarks about the climate issue.

On a personal level, she spoke in favor of mainstreaming the fight against climate change into the ECB’s mandate. It has also been open to reorienting the Bank’s balance sheet towards green assets, provided that a clear definition of what is sustainable is adopted at European level. Finally, she acknowledged that the ECB will have to gradually eliminate the financial securities of the polluting companies it holds on its balance sheet.

In order to engage the ECB in the fight against climate change, Lagarde will nevertheless have to obtain the consent of the 24 members of the institution’s board of governors, which is a challenge [2].

Alongside the social and environmental challenges, Christine Lagarde will face a third major challenge: to improve the democratic accountability of the institution.

In the aftermath of the eurozone crisis, the ECB has significantly expanded its functions and means of action. But these increased powers have not been accompanied by a strengthening of the rules on transparency, integrity and accountability of the Bank.

To remedy this, Ms. Lagarde will quickly adopt measures to prevent conflicts of interest that may affect members of the Executive Board, to make public meetings with lobbyists, or to publish its decisions and recommendations. Likewise, it will have to involve the European Parliament and civil society more closely in debates on the future revision of the monetary framework.

Only the future will tell if Mrs Lagarde will have been able to speak the truth in order to answer this triple challenge that awaits the ECB.

Notes

  • [1] BATTISTON, S., MONASTEROLO, I., March 22st, 2019, “How could the ECB’s monetary policy support the sustainable finance transition?”, Https://www.finexus.uzh.ch/en.html
  • [2] Some members of the Governing Council may find it difficult to depart from the “market neutrality” principle that the ECB has so far held: it forces the Bank to buy the financial assets that are proportionally, without favoring certain sectors at the expense of others. However, it is the most carbonaceous that dominate the economy.

Helicopter money is the new “whatever it takes”

Exactly seven years ago, the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, pledged the ECB would do “whatever it takes” to preserve the euro. Those few words will be remembered as a decisive step towards the end of the Eurozone crisis, as it paved the way for the launch of quantitative easing (QE).

But QE only managed to push the problem further down the road, and the ECB is once again worried about an economic slowdown. This month, the ECB has announced that it will consider more policy support to the Eurozone economy, including relaunching QE.

Some voices are saying the ECB should start buying equity stocks [1] as part of quantitative easing. This is what Blackrock (the world’s largest asset manager) suggested last week. Everyone can guess who would benefit most from this.

We, on the contrary, argue that 7 years after Draghi’s heroic “whatever it takes” speech, more of the same policies will not be good enough anymore. The European Central Bank needs to find new ways that will benefit all citizens, not just the banks, asset managers and the financial and corporate elite.

The ECB should clearly commit to deploying “helicopter money” – direct transfers of newly created money to EU citizens – if it needed to. Read why helicopter money is the new “whatever it takes” here.

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A European monetary dividend: a new monetary policy in the age of technological deflation

Every year, the European banking system spends € 500 billion in debt, of which at least € 300 billion does not even finance growth. This 300 billion is intended to stabilize the level of prices, but it also reduces purchasing power. Instead of producing them as debt, it would be more efficient to distribute them to European residents without compensation. This form of monetary creation, which the ECB has already mentioned, is one of its instruments, which would enable it to fulfill its task of stabilizing inflation much better. It would make the economic system more robust and make the banks more resilient to crises. It would encourage governments to budget. The French receive between € 50 and € 100 per person per month, including children. Continue reading “A European monetary dividend: a new monetary policy in the age of technological deflation”

Euro-Dividend as Sociopolitical Pillar of Europe

Conference at the University of Freiburg

In October 11-12, 2018 about 50 participants from both social sciences and Basic Income movement all over Europe met at an interdisciplinary conference at the University of Freiburg, Germany. They discussed the Euro-Dividend as sociopolitical pillar of the EU and its member countries.

The public debate about a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is usually a national one. In recent years, though, a European version of a UBI attracted more and more attention – primarily pushed by a suggestion of Philippe Van Parijs titled by him as a “Euro-Dividend”.

The conference aimed to shed light at pros and cons of a EU wide UBI regulation and its relation to national approaches from an interdisciplinary perspective. The first day the conference addressed general issues of a UBI while the topics of the second day were the Euro-Dividend and other EU-related concepts.

Keynote speakers were Philippe Van Parijs (Université Catholique de Louvain), Olli E. Kangas (KELA, Finland), Malcolm Torry (London School of Economics) and Antje Schrupp (political scientist)

UBIE core group at Freiburg 2018:  Barbara, Hilde, Daniel, Leire, Ulrich

Also UBIE members held a contribution:

  • Alexander de Roo: A realistic Basic Income needs two pillars. Answer to the trilemma (work incentives, inclusiveness and fiscal costs)
  • Ulrich Schachtschneider: Ecological Euro-Dividend – a Step to Unconditional Basic Income in Europe
  • Leire Rincon: Understanding the impact of basic income experimentation on policy-maker attention
  • Hilde Latour: How self owning autonomous machines can generate a basic income for mankind

Find more information about the Conference here.

As one result some participants agreed upon forming a scientific working group on the issue of the feasibility of a Euro-Dividend

 

First published: https://www.ubie.org/euro-dividend-as-sociopolitical-pillar-of-the-eu-and-its-member-states/

QE – for the people? Monetary policy after the Great Financial Crisis

In September 2008, the American investment bank Lehman Brothers fell. What followed was a financial crisis of unseen proportions that drew the entire world economy. In order to contain the crisis, central banks were forced to take exceptional measures. Probably the most controversial measure was QE, or quantitative easing: the massive purchase of financial assets with the aim of reducing the long-term interest rate and thus encouraging investment. On December 13, ten years after the outbreak of the Great Financial Crisis, the European Central Bank will in all probability announce that they too will stop their QE program. Time, therefore, to learn from the monetary policy after the crisis and to make an evaluation of ten years of macroeconomic stabilization policy.

This evaluation for Think Tank Minerva by Mattias Vermeiren and Hielke Van Doorslaer, researchers at Ghent University specialized in monetary policy, shows that the QE program of the European Central Bank (ECB) was largely inefficient, due to a lack of flanking expansionary fiscal policy. The defects in the structure of QE itself, however, point the way to a monetary crisis policy adapted to the current economic context: monetary financing of the government, or helicopter money: QE – for the people. Continue reading “QE – for the people? Monetary policy after the Great Financial Crisis”

Is the end of quantitative easing near? maybe later!

Despite the supposed end of quantitative easing in December 2018, future reinvestments promised by the European Central Bank mean it will purchase at least another 180 billion euros of bonds in 2019. This offers ample room for channeling the money created by the ECB more effectively.

At Thursday’s meeting of its governing council, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it “anticipates” ending quantitative easing (QE) by December 2018. It is the first time that the ECB has explicitly put a possible end date to its programme. This led the euro to fall, with markets worrying that the ECB’s withdrawal from its stimulus would negatively impact the Eurozone economy.

However, from a closer look it appears that the ECB’s announcement does not quite mean that quantitative easing will disappear by December. In fact the stimulus programme is here to stay for quite a long time. Continue reading “Is the end of quantitative easing near? maybe later!”

Euro-Dividend could be one of the greatest achievements of humanity

Reflecting on the critical global challenges that we are soon to confront, it is important to consider the repercussions that an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) for all European citizens would have for entrepreneurship, progress, fairness and sustainability, and to define a realistic, clear and consistent liberal approach. Continue reading “Euro-Dividend could be one of the greatest achievements of humanity”

Basicincome & EuroDividend as sociopolitical pillars of the EU and its member countries

BASIC INCOME AND THE EURO-DIVIDEND AS SOCIOPOLITICAL
PILLARS OF THE EU AND ITS MEMBER COUNTRIES

Interdisciplinary Conference at the University of Freiburg, Germany October 11-12, 2018

In Europe, the public debate about a universal basic income (UBI) is usually a national one. In recent years a European version of a UBI has attracted more and more attention – primarily pushed by the suggestion of Philippe Van Parijs titled a “Euro-Dividend”.

This conference aims to shed light at pros and cons of a EU wide UBI regulation and its relation to national approaches from an interdisciplinary perspective. Both UBI approaches shall be analysed and discussed with respect to justice, economic and migration effects, legal aspects, creation of
solidarity in the EU, and political viability. On the first day, the conference will address general issues about UBI while the schedule of the second day contains EU-related concepts just like the Euro-Dividend.

CALL FOR PAPERS Continue reading “Basicincome & EuroDividend as sociopolitical pillars of the EU and its member countries”

Helicopter Money is liked by 54% of Europeans

Recent survey shows that a broad majority (54%) of the European population would support a “helicopter money” from the European Central Bank while only 14% would be against.

In case this wasn’t already obvious already: most Europeans would like to receive money directly from the ECB. This idea, which is most known under the nickname ‘helicopter money’ is gaining traction since the CB engaged in quantitative easing back in 2015.

recent survey carried out by the polling company Ipsos for the Dutch bank ING shows that no less than 54% of the respondents think ‘helicopter money” would be a good idea, while only 14% are against. Continue reading “Helicopter Money is liked by 54% of Europeans”

 Introducing Positive Money Europe

Europe is at a crossroads. 9 months from now, the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to start phasing out quantitative easing. And in 18 months, the next European Parliamentary elections will take place.

Now is also a good time for us to start planning ahead. So what is next for the QE for People campaign?

Here is the big news: QE for People is transforming into a brand new, shiny organisation called Positive Money Europe!

QE for People was created in 2015 as a direct response to the ECB’s QE programme. Initially the campaign was launched by a coalition of 20 civil society organisations. Among them was Positive Money UK, a research and campaign organisation which focuses on the money and banking system. Continue reading ” Introducing Positive Money Europe”