Economic Policy

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25 February 2015

The emergence of the controversial car service Uber has provoked a wide and heated discussion among economists specialising in the services sector in recent months. This Commentary explores the most salient questions being raised in the debate: Does Uber really offer a new service? And does it represent true innovation? The authors argue that there are some very interesting innovative elements associated with Uber, but those related to the specific industrial relations model might prove to be prejudiced against drivers.

23 February 2015

In this Commentary, Daniel Gros argues that linking the primary surplus demanded of the new Greek government to the state of the economy is a sound approach. Some flexibility is warranted on this account, but the concept should be used to distribute the effort better over time, not to wriggle out of it.

Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.

11 February 2015

Deviations of policy interest rates from the levels implied by the Taylor rule have been persistent before the financial crisis and increased especially after the turn of the century. Compared to the Taylor benchmark, policy rates were often too low. This paper provides evidence that both international spillovers, for instance international dependencies in the interest rate-setting of central banks, and nonlinear reaction patterns can offer a more realistic specification of the Taylor rule in the main industrial countries.

10 February 2015

Since Syriza’s victory in Greece’s recent general election, some fear a return to the uncertainty of 2012, when many thought that a Greek default and exit from the eurozone were imminent and that a Greek debt crisis could destabilise – and perhaps even bring down – Europe’s monetary union.  CEPS Director Daniel Gros explains in this CEPS Commentary how this time really is different.

06 February 2015

 In response to the sustained pressure recently experienced by the Danish krone, Denmark may be forced to abandon its 30-year old peg to the euro. If this scenario unfolds, this CEPS Commentary argues that it will be no bad thing for the eurozone.

Cinzia Alcidi is LUISS Research Fellow and Head of the Economic Policy unit at CEPS, Thomas Barnebeck Andersen is Professor of Economics at University of Southern Denmark and Mikkel Barslund is Research Fellow at CEPS.

05 February 2015

In his analysis of the basic compromise that is emerging between the new left-wing government of Greece and its European partners, Daniel Gros emphasises that the key element will be how the real problem, namely liquidity, is dealt with.

Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.

04 February 2015

Following the victory of Syriza in the Greek elections on January 25th, policy-makers, economists and concerned EU citizens are scrambling to understand the causes, modalities and consequences of a possible Greek default in order to anticipate and prepare for what is likely to unfold in the coming weeks and months. The debate on the sustainability of Greek public finances has often been characterised by a lack of clarity and even a certain degree of confusion.

22 January 2015

In the run-up to the Greek elections on January 25th and the subsequent renegotiation of the country's economic adjustment programme with the troika, Daniel Gros writes in this Commentary that "nobody officially wants Grexit": not Syriza, which wants Greece to stay in the euro. It is ‘only’ asking for a reduction in Greece’s official debt and an end to austerity. The German government also does not favour Grexit because European unification remains the central project for German policy-makers across all mainstream parties.

21 January 2015

In their column published online by Reuters, Daniel Gros and Christian Kopf offer their assessment of the programme of sovereign bond purchases to be undertaken shortly by the European Central Bank in the euro area. They examine in particular the accounting technique proposed in order to immunise the shareholders of the ECB, namely the national central banks, against potential losses from such operations in which purchases would not be undertaken jointly, but rather would be made on the accounts of individual national central banks of the Eurosystem.

21 January 2015

On January 15th the Swiss National Bank (SNB) abandoned the efforts it had taken since September 2011 to ensure that the Swiss franc/euro exchange rate would not fall below 1.2 Swiss francs per euro. The Swiss franc appreciated immediately by almost 20% (after a temporary overshot of an even larger amount).The justification was that speculative capital flows induced by the euro crisis were driving the Swiss franc above its equilibrium value.

19 January 2015

This Commentary summarises the main reasons why the ECB can no longer delay launching a massive bond-buying programme, also including sovereigns of eurozone member countries, and why such interventions will indeed be effective in raising inflation, thus restoring the ECB’s credibility and spurring economic activity. A credible programme must continue either until an explicit inflation target has been achieved or the ECB balance sheet has reached the €2 trillion target already announced by the ECB’s Governing Council.

16 January 2015

A decade-long period of a steadily rising oil prices (and that of other raw materials) has given Russia a feeling of strength, bordering on invulnerability, which has made the country more assertive, and ready to use any opportunity to deploy its military power. Based on his analysis of Russian behaviour over the past 50 years, Daniel Gros finds that the abrupt reversal of this trend since the summer of 2014 portends a much less aggressive Russian stance as long as the price of oil remains at present levels.

12 January 2015

This paper was published by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn as Discussion Paper No. 8689 in December 2014, and can be downloaded at:

18 December 2014

This CEPS Special Report investigates ways to enhance the legitimacy of economic governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) without introducing Treaty changes. It suggests changes in the governance framework at both the institutional and economic level. Input-oriented legitimacy can be improved by increasing parliamentary oversight on decisions related to EMU and increasing the accountability of the Eurogroup.

09 December 2014

This study offers an in-depth economic analysis of the two main proposals for the creation of a European unemployment insurance scheme. One proposes the creation of a harmonised European unemployment benefit scheme that would apply automatically to every eligible unemployed person. The alternative, termed ‘reinsurance’ here, would transfer funds to national unemployment insurance schemes to finance benefits from the centre to the periphery when unemployment is measurably higher than normal.

27 November 2014

On the face of it, the €315 billion euro in additional investment announced by Juncker to kickstart Europe’s economy should make a material difference. But, explains Daniel Gros, without actually having any margin of manoeuvre in the EU budget there cannot be any financing for new investment and there cannot be any real growth impulse. The European Commission should have made the completion of the internal market, in particular the integration of Europe’s energy markets, a precondition for any new investment plan.

Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.

18 November 2014

Investment has declined in the euro area since the start of the economic and financial crisis, but this does not mean that there is necessarily an ‘investment gap’, explains Daniel Gros in this CEPS Policy Brief. Investment was probably above a sustainable level due to the credit boom before 2007. Moreover, the fall in the euro area’s potential growth − due to a combination of a sharp demographic slowdown and lower total factor productivity (TFP) growth − should also lead to a permanently lower investment rate.

18 November 2014

The book is co-published with Rowman and Littlefield International (RLI) and can be purchased for £12.95 either in paperback or as an e-Book from the RLI website.

14 November 2014

This Commentary aims to contribute to the current analysis of sovereign QE (quantitative easing) that the ECB has already initiated through its internal working groups. The authors see a specific opportunity in sovereign QE that could provide for a game-changer in the course of the European crisis. They argue that the ECB intervention would be less distortive and more effective if it could leverage on the existence of a liquid market for a public security representing the eurozone as a whole, based on the securitisation of the different underlying national public securities.

13 November 2014

On November 15-16th, world leaders will gather in Brisbane, Australia for the ninth G-20 summit, aimed at increasing world GDP and charting a pathway to sustainable, inclusive growth and resilience through both short and medium-term actions.  Experts from think tanks around the world were commissioned by the Brookings Institution to address in a comprehensive report interrelated debates about growth, convergence and income distribution, three key elements that are likely to shape policy debates beyond the Brisbane summit.

12 November 2014

Two recent instances of flagrant infringement of agreed EU rules – the submission by Italy and France of budget plans for 2015 that clearly violated their governments’ vows of continued austerity under the Stability and Growth Pact and David Cameron’s petulant refusal to pay a back payment of billions of euros to the EU budget – threaten the EU’s fundamental workings, which are based on a clear rulebook enforced vigorously by a strong Commission.

05 November 2014

Following the Commission’s autumn forecast showing that only five euro-area countries exhibit a fiscal balance better than the 0.5% of GDP deficit allowed by the Fiscal Compact, Daniel Gros and Cinzia Alcidi attempt to explain in this new Commentary why there is precious little policy debate over these flagrant treaty violations. They find that it is not possible to put fiscal policy in a legal straightjacket and that the tight rules enshrined in the new Treaty and in national constitutions are discarded as soon as they become politically inconvenient.

04 November 2014

The surprise revelation that the UK would be paying a surcharge to the EU budget of €2.1 billion sent Prime Minister Cameron into a rampage. How could this misunderstanding have arisen, as the resources mechanism of the EU budget uses a rather rigid method of calculation agreed by all member states?

04 November 2014

Aside from David Cameron’s ill-tempered protest at the news that the UK owed an additional €2 billion to the EU budget by December 1st, there is not much further to be said on the matter. As underlined in this Commentary, the basic point is simple: clear rules on the contributions of member states were agreed, by common consent, whose implementation essentially involved putting numbers into a spreadsheet. This was done expressly in order to remove the political element out of a potentially contentious process.

04 November 2014

January 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the European Monetary Institute, the predecessor of the European Central Bank. On 12 February 2014, the European Central Bank and the National Bank of Belgium co-hosted a conference in Brussels to commemorate this key milestone on the way to Economic and Monetary Union. This book, edited by Ivo Maes and Frank Moss brings together the papers presented at the conference which was entitled “Progress through crisis? Conference for the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the European Monetary Institute”.

09 October 2014

With inflation in the eurozone stubbornly remaining on a downward trajectory, pressure is growing on the ECB to do “something” to prevent outright deflation. But, given the financial structure of eurozone countries, would the preferred "something" – quantitative easing – actually do the trick?

01 October 2014

This report reviews the various ways in which the Member States of the European Union handle the collection of revenues for the EU budget, as well as the classification and treatment of EU expenditures. The study finds a substantial diversity in these practices among the Member States and calls for a full harmonisation of the accounting procedures. It concludes with some options for transforming the Gross National Income resource into a ‘genuine’ resource for the EU and assesses the potential of a real VAT resource.

01 October 2014

In presenting their priorities for the new European Commission, Miroslav Beblavý and Ilaria Maselli assert in this CEPS Commentary that the time has come to devise an EU-level shock absorption mechanism. In their view, the instrument that best aligns varying political and economic objectives is a form of reinsurance of national systems of unemployment insurance.

18 September 2014

In recent months, the ECB has taken several steps to revitalise credit. In June, it decided to offer banks targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTROs), and in September, it announced its intention to buy large (as yet unspecified) amounts of asset-backed securities (ABS), also with the aim of improving the financing conditions for investment, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, this focus on bank balance sheets as an inhibitor of lending might be misplaced.

12 September 2014

The exchange rate can have a very significant influence on the euro area, which is a rather open economy. Indeed the share of exports amounts to about 27% of GDP, which is much higher than for other economies of similar size (US or even Japan). However, the impact of exchange rates on exports is usually limited in the short run.