Global Monetary Policy

While our focus is often just on what the Bank of England is up to (speaking of which, today is December’s interest rate announcement from the Bank of England), there are other more important central banks out there, most notably the European Central Bank (ECB), and the Federal Reserve, representing the eurozone and the US respectively.

This article in the Guardian worries about what seems likely to happen this month: the US will tighten monetary policy while the ECB will loosen policy further.

Why does this matter? The worry is of considerable exchange rate movements. As we’ll learn towards the end of next term, one of the ways in which we believe exchange rates move in the shorter term as economists is via relative interest rate movements. This is because rates of interest reflect how much an investor could earn by moving their wealth into that country.

Hence, everything else being equal, if interest rates are higher in the US than in the eurozone, it is feared people will move their wealth out of European assets into US-based assets, increasing the demand for US dollars, and reducing the demand for euros. This would then lead to an appreciation in the value of the dollar (more demand), and a depreciation in the value of the euro (less demand). This need not be a bad thing, since a recovering economy ought to be aided by a weaker currency.

Of course things aren’t necessarily that simple; if eurozone producers use goods imported from the US to make their goods, and if eurozone consumption is often of US-produced goods, then eurozone economic activity would likely be negatively affected by the movements.

The bottom line is that larger than normal exchange rate movements ought to be expected in the coming months…

Monday’s Conversation: Greece, EMU and Austerity

Every Monday during term time we meet in less formal circumstances to talk about economics: these are our Conversations in Economics, in which we usually reflect on some pertinent real world event, and attempt to apply some economics to it.

Last week we talked about Corbynomics in light of the Labour Party conference, and on Monday of next week we meet in HumSS 125
at 1pm to talk about Greece, EMU and Austerity.

While Greece may have fallen off our news radars in recent months, at least in terms of its economic situation (as opposed to one of the first places refugees have been arriving in the EU), it remains a place with deep economic problems, as the chart below shows:

Greek GDP since 1995

Since 2006 Greek GDP has fallen by a third in real terms. To try and make some sense of that, if a road had 9 factories on it, 3 would have by now shut down and not be producing anything (with subsequent unemployment that that would entail).

So, it’s still as important a time as ever to be talking about Greece, its situation within the EU, and the austerity it has had forced upon itself.

See you all on Monday!