11 Jul 2012

Central Banks in Times of Crisis: The FED vs. the ECB

Daniel Gros / Cinzia Alcidi / Alessandro Giovannini

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Different economic and financial structures require different crisis responses. Different crises also require different tools and resources. The first ‘stage’ of the financial crisis (2007-09) was similar on both sides of the Atlantic, and the response was also quite similar. The second stage of the crisis is unique to the euro area. Increasing financial disintegration within the region has forced the ECB to become the central counterparty for the entire cross-border banking market and to intervene in the sovereign bond market of some stressed countries. The actions undertaken by the European Central Bank (ECB), however, have not always represented the best response, in terms of effectiveness, consistency and transparency. This is especially true for the Securities Markets Programme (SMP): by de facto imposing its absolute seniority during the Greek PSI (private sector involvement), the ECB has probably killed its future effectiveness.

Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS; Cinzia Alcidi is a Research Fellow and Alessandro Giovanni is a Research Assistant.

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