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Европейская денежная система

the ESCB will react in an appropriate, measured and, when necessary,

gradualist manner to economic disturbances that threaten price stability in

the medium term, rather than in an abrupt way, in order to avoid

unnecessary disruptions of the process of economic growth. That said, the

ESCB will, whenever necessary, openly discuss and explain the sources of

possible deviations from the quantitative definition of price stability.

In addition, let me remind you that by focusing on the HICP for the

euro area, the ESCB makes it clear that it will base its decisions on

monetary, economic and financial developments in the euro area as a whole.

The single monetary policy has to take a euro area-wide perspective: it

will not react to specific regional or national developments.

The institutional implication is that the ESCB should develop into a

strong unity, with a strong centre and strong national central banks. It

should become a truly European institution, with a truly European outlook.

Of course, it may take some time to arrive where we ultimately want to be.

We have to get used to thinking in euro area-wide terms. In the ECB

Governing Council we are already "practising" that approach and are making

progress. I am confident that the ESCB will indeed act as a unity.

Transparency and openness will be apparent from the way in which the

ESCB communicates with the public. The ESCB will regularly present its

assessment of the monetary, economic and financial situation in the euro

area and provide information about each specific monetary policy decision,

be it a move in interest rates or an absence of change. This will notably

be done by way of press releases, press conferences, publications and

speeches. Press releases are made available immediately after the

fortnightly meetings of the Governing Council and, as you may know, they

always include a precise list of the decisions taken together with

background information.

There will be a monthly press conference. Such a press conference

will start with a detailed introductory statement, as has been the case so

far, and these introductory statements will also be published immediately,

without delay. In this statement the Vice-President and I will present the

Governing Council's view of the economic situation and the underlying

arguments for its monetary policy decisions, followed by a question and

answer session.

The publications of the ESCB will include, in particular, an ECB

Bulletin each month as well as an Annual Report. As from 1999, a detailed

analysis of the economic situation in the euro area will be presented in

the monthly Bulletin. Thematic articles in this Bulletin will include in-

depth analyses by the ECB on matters regarding the monetary policy of the

ESCB and the economy of the euro area. Further, you may also recall that,

as required by its Statute, the ESCB will publish its consolidated balance

sheet on a weekly basis.

My colleagues on the Executive Board of the ECB and I intend to be

very active in giving speeches dealing with all issues of relevance for the

conduct of monetary policy. I am convinced that the Governors of the

national central banks will also play their role in this respect.

Since I am talking about the communication and external relations of

the ESCB, I would like to underline that I am prepared to accept

invitations to appear before the European Parliament at least four times a

year to present the activities of the ESCB and the ECB's Annual Report.

Finally, it should be noted that the ESCB will have a regular exchange of

information and views with the ECOFIN. Representatives of the ECB will be

invited to ECOFIN meetings whenever issues of concern to monetary policy

are discussed. A similar relationship will naturally also exist with the

EURO-11, whose meetings will generally be attended by the President of the

ECB, whenever matters relevant to the ESCB are on the agenda.

3. Monetary policy strategy of the ESCB

We are now approaching the start of the Third Stage of EMU. The

decision-making bodies of the ECB have made a certain number of important

decisions since the ESCB was established. As part of these decisions, the

monetary policy strategy of the ESCB was recently announced and explained

to the public. The selected stability-oriented strategy promotes as much

continuity as possible with the existing strategies of national central

banks in the EU. At the same time, its design is adapted to the unique

situation of introducing a single currency in eleven countries, which may

to a certain extent change economic behaviour. Therefore as much continuity

as possible and as much change as required is the thrust of our strategy.

Our strategy consists of two pillars. The first is an important role

for money and the second is a broad-based assessment of the outlook for

price developments in the euro area. The main reason for assigning a

prominent role to money is the empirically well-founded view that

inflation, at least in the long run, is a monetary phenomenon. This simple

and obvious observation led the Governing Council to announce a

quantitative reference value for the growth of a broad measure of money.

This choice will create a "nominal anchor" for monetary policy and

therefore help stabilise private inflation expectations at longer horizons.

The reference value will be derived in a manner that is clearly consistent

with - and serves the achievement of - price stability. It will be

constructed such that, in the absence of special factors or other

distortions, deviations of monetary growth from the reference value will

signal risks to price stability.

However, it has to be clear that the reference value is different

from an intermediate monetary target, as the ESCB has not made any

commitment to correct deviations of actual monetary growth from the

reference value over the short term. In particular, it has been

realistically recognised that the move to a single currency and ongoing

financial innovations may generate fluctuations in the selected monetary

aggregate which are not necessarily associated with inflationary or

deflationary pressures. For this reason, it is important to continuously

monitor the relevance of temporary factors or even structural changes in

order to avoid a mechanistic policy reaction to deviations of the chosen

monetary aggregate from the reference value. The results of this analysis

and its impact on the ESCB's monetary policy decisions will be explained to

the public.

Let me turn now to the second key element of the monetary policy

strategy, the broad-based assessment of the risks to price stability. The

information contained in monetary aggregates, while of the utmost

importance, will by no means constitute the whole of the "information set"

in the hands of the ESCB. In parallel with the analysis of money growth, a

wide range of economic and financial variables will be used to formulate an

assessment of the outlook for price developments. The envisaged strategy

will enable the ESCB to perform a cross-check between the information

coming from the evolution of monetary aggregates and those from other

economic and financial indicators.

4. Recent economic developments and prospects

Let me turn to the current economic situation. The euro area

experienced a strengthening of economic growth in 1997, to 2.5%, and a

further acceleration has been anticipated for this year. The global

environment has, of course, deteriorated in the meantime, but this has not

so far had an observable impact on growth which has, in any event, been

increasingly led by domestic demand. Inflation has remained subdued and

even fallen somewhat over the past year, partly as a result of the impact

of weaker global demand on oil and commodity prices. However, the

favourable pattern of inflation has also been supported by domestic

factors, such as a very moderate development in unit labour costs and

industrial producer prices.

Concerning recent price developments, HICP inflation for the euro

area fell to 1.0% in September, due to a strong impact from food prices,

but I would not want to read too much into this latest decline as some

price components can be relatively volatile over short periods. More

significantly, preliminary data suggest that various broad monetary

aggregates for the euro area are increasing at between 3 and 5%, and thus

do not appear to signal any strong incipient inflationary or deflationary

pressures. We are in line with the consensus view that inflation in the

euro area will rise moderately in 1999, but remain below 2%. I do not

consider deflation to be a serious risk for price stability at present.

So far, despite the worsening of the global environment, euro area-

wide activity has continued to expand at a fairly stable rate. At around

3%, annual real GDP growth was broadly unchanged in the first half of 1998

from the solid growth seen in the second half of 1997. Industrial

production growth has slowed somewhat since the spring. More recent

evidence, particularly that of the area-wide survey data, may also suggest

a moderation in the pace of growth and further developments in these

indicators will continue to be monitored closely. Area-wide growth should,

however, be supported by a number of domestic factors. One factor

supporting continued growth, particularly in private consumption, is the

gradual improvement in labour market conditions. Moreover, the lowest short-

term interest rates in the euro area currently stand at 3.3%, and several

countries have cut interest rates towards this level recently as part of

the process towards interest rate convergence. The process of convergence

towards this level has been gradual, but should imply a reduction in the

average short-term interest rate in the euro area of about 0.5 percentage

point since July. Long-term rates also stand at low levels. And, there has

been a marked degree of exchange rate stability among countries

participating in the euro. This is undoubtedly a welcome development from

the standpoint of encouraging trade and investment. Thus, our assessment is

similar to that of other international organisations, that - unless the

international environment deteriorates further, which is not currently

expected - growth will be somewhat weaker in 1999. Growth should, however,

remain high enough to support continued employment creation and, assuming a

recovery in the international environment, there should be a pick-up in

growth in the year 2000. At the meetings in December the ECB Governing

Council will again assess the outlook for economic and price developments.

Although the economic outlook may be less favourable than expected -

let us say - half a year ago, I believe that the conditions for a

successful launch of the euro are in place. You can be sure that the ESCB

will do its utmost to make the euro a stable currency.

The euro: pushing the boundaries

Presentation by Ms Sirkka Hдmдlдinen,

Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank,

at the symposium arranged by the European Private Equity and

Venture Capital Association

on 11 June 1999 in Prague

It is a great honour for me to be invited here today to this

symposium arranged by the European Private Equity and Venture Capital

Association to speak about the new European currency - the euro. Indeed,

the theme of this symposium - "Pushing the boundaries" - is very

appropriate when speaking about the euro. To my mind, the establishment of

Economic and Monetary Union can be characterised as pushing the boundaries

in several ways, such as:

* pushing the boundaries in the process of European


* pushing the boundaries of stability-oriented policies in

Europe; and

* pushing the boundaries of market integration in Europe.

In today's presentation, I shall give an overview of these three

aspects of Economic and Monetary Union. Thereafter, I shall discuss more

thoroughly the implications of the single currency for the development of

the European financial markets, focusing on the capital markets. Finally, I

shall reflect briefly on the importance of equity prices, and other asset

prices, in the formulation of monetary policy.

1. Pushing the boundaries of the process of European integration

I shall start with a few comments on the role of the euro in the

overall European integration process: I think there is little doubt that in

future books on European history the start of the third stage of European

Economic and Monetary Union on 1 January 1999 will be marked as a

significant and unique event in the long process of European integration.

On that day, the national currencies of 11 EU countries became

denominations of the euro. At the same time, the "Eurosystem" (which is

composed of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 11 national central

banks (NCBs) of the participating Member States) assumed responsibility for

the monetary policy of the euro area.

In order to put this event into a historical context, I should like

to note that the establishment of an Economic and Monetary Union in Europe

was, in fact, originally motivated more by general political arguments than

by economic arguments. In the current debate, these overall political

arguments have almost disappeared. Instead, the media and economic analysts

are increasingly focusing their assessment of the new currency on the

recent short-term economic and financial developments in the euro area.

The process of European integration started shortly after the end of

the Second World War and gained momentum in the 1950s. At the time, the

striving for integration was mainly driven by the aim of eliminating the

risk that wars and crises would once more plague the continent. Through the

establishment of common institutions, political conflicts could be avoided

or at least resolved through discussion and compromise.

The idea of establishing a monetary union and a common monetary

policy was raised at an early stage of this process. It was argued that the

full economic effects from integration in Europe could only be gained if

the transaction costs of exchanging different currencies were eliminated.

Other benefits of a monetary union in Europe were emphasised less in the

early stages of the discussion, partly due to the fact that at that time

the Bretton Woods system was already providing a high degree of exchange

rate stability.

The first concrete proposal for an economic and monetary union in

Europe was presented in 1970 in the so-called Werner Report, named after

the then Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Pierre Werner. However, this

proposal was never implemented. In the aftermath of the break-up of the

Bretton Woods system and the shock of the first oil crisis in 1973, the

European economies entered a period of stagnation with high inflation,

persisting unemployment and instability in exchange rates and interest

rates. The European countries applied very different policy responses to

the unfavourable economic developments, and policy co-ordination

deteriorated. In this environment, it was not realistic to establish a

monetary union.

The experience of this volatile period showed that large exchange

rate fluctuations between the European currencies led to a disruption of

trade flows and an unfavourable investment climate, thereby hampering the

aims of achieving growth, employment, economic stability and enhanced

integration. Therefore, the benefits of eliminating intra-EU exchange rate

volatility became an increasingly powerful argument when the issue of

establishing an economic and monetary union was revisited in the so-called

Delors Report in 1989.

The Delors Report contained a detailed plan for the establishment of

Economic and Monetary Union and eventually became the basis for the

drafting of the Maastricht Treaty. This time, the time schedule for

establishing the Economic and Monetary Union took into account the need to

first achieve a high degree of nominal convergence for the participating


The fact that the plan for the introduction of the single currency

was then pursued and implemented in such a determined and consistent manner

implied, in itself, a boost for the overall process of integration. The

momentum of the process of integration is no longer crucially dependent on

political decisions. By contrast, the integration of the European economies

has become an irreversible and self-sustained process, which is proceeding

automatically in all areas of political, economic, social and cultural

life. The euro can thus be seen as a catalyst for further co-ordination and

integration in other policy areas. This is one way in which the

introduction of the euro has definitely helped to push the boundaries in

the process of European integration.

Another way to push the boundaries in the European integration

process relates to the geographical extent of the euro area and the

European Union. Here, I sincerely hope that the four EU countries which

have not yet adopted the euro will soon be able to join the Monetary Union.

At the same time, I hope the process to enlarge the European Union with the

applicant countries will progress successfully. An enlargement of the euro

area and of the European Union would further strengthen the role of Europe

in a global perspective and should be for the benefit of all participating

countries. However, it is clear that countries aiming to join the Economic

Monetary Union would have to fulfil the same degree of nominal convergence

as was required from the participating countries when the Economic and

Monetary Union was established. This is essential in order to avoid

tensions to emerge in the euro area, which could eventually compromise

macro-economic stability.

2. Pushing the boundaries of stability-oriented economic policies

Economic and Monetary Union in Europe also provides an opportunity to

push the boundaries in areas of economic policy. The convergence process

prior to the establishment of Economic and Monetary Union was helpful in

order to achieve a broad consensus among policy makers on the virtues of

stability-oriented policies, i.e. policies directed towards price

stability, fiscal discipline and structural reform geared at promoting

growth and employment. The convergence process also helped policy makers to

focus their efforts on the formulation of stability-oriented economic

policies in the participating countries and it also facilitated the

acceptance of these policies among the general public.

In the new environment of Economic and Monetary Union, monetary

policy can no longer be applied as a means of accommodating economic

developments in an individual Member State. Such nation-specific

developments would have to be countered by fiscal and structural policies,

while the best way in which the single monetary policy can contribute to

improved conditions for growth and employment is by ensuring price

stability in the euro area as a whole. In this respect, the formulation of

the Maastricht Treaty is instrumental, since it guarantees the Eurosystem's

firm commitment to price stability; it clearly specifies that price

stability is the primary objective of the single monetary policy.

The Eurosystem has put a lot of effort into establishing a monetary

policy framework that will ensure that it can fulfil its primary objective

of price stability as efficiently as possible. There are several aspects to

this framework.

First, the Eurosystem has adopted a quantitative definition of the

primary objective - the Governing Council of the ECB has defined price

stability as a year-on-year increase of the Harmonised Index of Consumer

Prices (HICP) for the euro area of below 2%. This is a medium-term

objective. In the short run, many factors beyond the scope of monetary

policy also affect price movements.

Second, the Eurosystem has made public the strategy to be used for

the implementation of the single monetary policy. This strategy is based on

two key elements, whereby money has been assigned a prominent role, as

signalled by the announcement of a Z- -#"+ !-+

1999\SEATSCASE.DOCh[?]€б@[?]Rreference rate of 4Ѕ% for the 12-month growth

of the euro area monetary aggregate M3. The other element consists of a

broadly based assessment of the outlook for price developments and the

risks to price stability in the euro area on the basis of a wide range of

economic and financial indicators.

Third, the Eurosystem puts significant emphasis on the need to

carefully explain its policy actions in terms of its monetary policy

strategy. Therefore, the Eurosystem has established various channels for

the communication with market participants and the general public. The most

important communication channels are the ECB's Monthly Bulletin, its press

releases and the press conferences following the meetings of the Governing

Council, the President's appearances in the European Parliament and the

speeches given by the members of the Governing Council.

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