Европейская денежная система
A further important building block in order to establish credibility
is the promotion of an efficient implementation of the monetary policy
decisions. The Eurosystem has aimed to set up an operational framework
which is consistent with market principles and which ensures equal
treatment of counterparties and financial systems across the euro area. The
Eurosystem's operational framework is based on the principle of
decentralisation in order to take advantage of the established links
between the national central banks and their counterparties. The monetary
policy operations will therefore be conducted by the national central
banks, while decisions are taken centrally in the ECB's decision-making
The consequences of a single currency: perspectives for the future
The most important effects of the single currency relate to the
possibility of improving macroeconomic stability and credibility for the
policies pursued; these effects are particularly important for the smaller
European economies. Moreover, important benefits can be derived from
microeconomic factors, such as lower transaction costs, wider and deeper
financial markets, improved price transparency and increased competition.
Starting with the macroeconomic factors, Monetary Union makes it
possible for the participating countries to combine their credibility. In
this way, small countries can, to a certain extent, "borrow" credibility
from some of the large countries which have pursued stability-oriented
policies for a long time. Under credible conditions, the financial markets
are no longer under pressure from speculative attacks by large
institutional investors. Price and interest rate developments are
stabilised, and the investment climate for companies is secured. In the
microeconomic field, the most obvious consequences relate to lower
transaction costs and increased price transparency across national borders.
These factors are likely to contribute to increased competition and
downward price pressure on many products.
One very important consequence is that the use of a single currency
will give rise to larger and more competitive financial markets in the euro
area. In most European countries, the financial markets have, by tradition,
been rather shallow, with few participants and a rather narrow set of
financial instruments on offer. A high degree of segmentation and a lack of
cross-border competition have implied relatively low trading volumes, high
transaction costs and a reluctance to implement innovative financial
On the introduction of the euro, the foreign exchange risk of trading
in the different national markets in the euro area fully disappeared. This
has triggered increasing cross-border competition and has provided an
incentive for the harmonisation of market practices. In fact, the trading
of money market paper and euro area government bonds can already be
considered to be largely integrated. The markets for private bonds are
still segmented owing to the differing institutional and regulatory
conditions across Member States, but they, too, will gradually integrate
and provide an incentive for increasing the issuance volumes of private
bonds. This will contribute to reducing the financing costs for private
companies, and it will provide improved opportunities for investors.
Monetary Union provides much needed assurance of exchange rate
stability for exporters, importers and investors. This is particularly
important for small and open economies. In fact, most countries in Europe
are to be considered small in the current global perspective. The active
use of the exchange rate as a tool of economic policy could be an
alternative for a large reserve-currency country. For a small country,
experience has shown that large changes in the exchange rate tend to give
rise to higher costs rather than benefits, due to the harmful effects on
expectations and higher interest rates.
Some of the economic effects of the Monetary Union may partially
benefit also the countries remaining outside Monetary Union. Nevertheless,
it is important for the "out" countries, to assess whether they find that
the benefits of maintaining a national monetary policy "autonomy" - if
there is any such autonomy in an integrated and globalised market situation
- outweigh the possible drawbacks of not being able to fully draw on the
credibility of the euro area, the integration of the euro area financial
markets, lower transaction costs, improved price transparency and increased
The euro and the Nordic countries
The Nordic countries have chosen to organise their monetary policy
ties to the euro area in very different ways: Finland is the only Nordic
country taking part in Monetary Union as from the start of Stage Three;
Denmark negotiated an opt-out from Monetary Union but follows a fixed
exchange rate policy vis-а-vis the euro within the new Exchange Rate
Mechanism (ERM II); Sweden decided not to participate in Monetary Union
from the start of Stage Three, without having a formal opt-out and the
Swedish krona still floats freely against the euro; and Norway and Iceland
remain outside the EU altogether.
The divergent approaches taken by the Nordic countries as regards one
of the most important economic and political projects in Europe in modern
times are somewhat strange in view of their traditionally close cultural,
historical, political and economic ties. Nordic co-operation has always
been very important and close. I note with satisfaction that the public
opinions in Denmark and Sweden now seem to be swinging in a more favourable
direction with regard to future membership. Maybe the successful
implementation of the euro has made the public understand that Monetary
Union is aimed at ensuring long-term stability in Europe. In this context,
the recent signals from the Government of the United Kingdom in favour of
membership in the Monetary Union are also very encouraging.
Personally, I think that it would be beneficial to all Nordic
countries - and the United Kingdom - to join Monetary Union within the not
too distant future. I hope that Sweden and Denmark can become members
already before the introduction of the euro banknotes and coins in 2002.
It is important for these countries to also assess the political
aspects of remaining outside Monetary Union. Experience has shown that EU
Member States which have taken initiatives and worked constructively
towards European integration have been generally more successful in gaining
influence than those less committed to the project. In this respect, it
should be noted that the aim of the Maastricht Treaty is clearly to
establish a Monetary Union comprising all EU Member States.
Personally, I also think that the Nordic countries could provide a
fruitful joint contribution to the long-term success of Monetary Union.
There is no need to overemphasise the role of small countries in this
process, but it is clear that co-ordinated views by a group of small
countries would have a larger influence than the views of individual
countries. One of the benefits of the Nordic countries - and small
countries in general - is that they are seldom bound to their old
traditional system. In contrast, they typically fight for efficient
solutions which would be in the interest of the whole of the euro area.
The project to establish European Economic and Monetary Union was
carefully prepared and based on very strong political commitment. It has
contributed to the co-ordination of economic policies - even in a wider
sense - in an environment of deregulated financial markets and the free
flow of capital. The stability arguments behind the introduction of the
euro have been so well accepted that we are already seeing serious and
visible efforts aimed at the next step towards a global "single currency"
through the establishment of exchange rate co-ordination between the euro,
the US dollar and the Japanese yen. In order for any such world-wide
currency co-ordination to become successful, there would be a need for
political commitment to globally harmonising fiscal, monetary and
structural policies. In this context, I would advise realism, caution and a
gradual approach in spite of the longer-term ideal goal of global
stability. There are still many challenges and adjustments ahead within the
euro area before any world-wide steps should be considered. Our first
priority is to ensure long-term stability in the euro area economies under
the single monetary policy and on the hope that the euro area will soon
cover all EU countries.
Eurosystem: new challenges for old missions
Inaugural Lecture by Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa,
Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank,
on the occasion of his appointment as
1999\GERMAN COFFEE COMPANY ORGANIZES THE PROMOTION CAMPAIGN IN
А- -#"+ !-+ 1999\GERMhonorary Professor of Johann Wolfgang Goethe-
Frankfurt am Main, 15 April 1999
Table of contents
2. Policy missions
3. New challenges
4. Making the eurosystem a central bank
5. Dealing with the European unemployment
6. Managing financial transformations
7. Coping with a lack of political union
I participate in this Dies Academicus, at the University that carries
the name of Goethe, in the town of Frankfurt, in the first year of the
euro, with thoughts and emotions that are hard to conceal.
In my early youth, at the time of the decisions that determine one's
life, the dearest of my Gymnasium teachers told me: "You have to resolve,
in order to decide your future, the dilemma of what interests you most:
whether to understand or to change the world." My choice has been
Economics. And, the subject of economics being human action, I early
discounted that the call for action would prevail, in my motivations, over
the enquiring spirit. I did not expect how strongly that dilemma would
continue to accompany my life. More importantly, I did not understand, at
the time, how much acting and enquiring are complementary ways of being in
the world and searching for truth, as Goethe's work and life so profoundly
witness. Science changes reality; practical activity not supported by
reflection and analysis is ineffective and even harmful.
If I now live in Frankfurt and am here today it is because most of my
professional life was spent in an institution - the Banca d'Italia - where
eminent persons like Guido Carli, Paolo Baffi and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
allowed the dilemma of my early years being kept somewhat unresolved and
favoured independent analysis as a complement of practical activity. They
also shared and encouraged the combination of enquiry and action that
helped the euro to become a reality. To them I therefore dedicate this
Academia is the place where teaching and enquiring reinforce each
other by going hand in hand. It originates from Socrates' precept that "the
wisest recognises that he is in truth of no account in respect to wisdom".
Teaching is assertive, enquiring interrogative. One is based on the
presumption that we have answers to transmit; the other is based on the
modesty imposed by unresolved questions.
The mode of the following remarks will be the interrogative, rather
than the assertive one. Not only because presumption is certainly not my
#"+ !-+ 1999\EVALUATION DER BEITRAEGE AUS JUNI99.DOC¤АјXї[pic][pic]?- -#"+
!-+ 1999\EVALUATION DER Bйtat d'esprit today, but, more importantly,
because the theme of this lecture - the new challenges posed by the advent
of the euro - has a distinctly intellectual dimension, not only a practical
one. The success of EMU will largely depend on the ability to identify new
problems at an early stage and to analyse them without prejudice. While the
mission entrusted to central bankers is not new, the challenges in the
years to come may indeed differ from those of the last few decades. They
may be "new" either because they have not been experienced before, or
because they have acquired a new dimension.
In reviewing what I consider to be, for the Eurosystem, the most
important of such challenges, I shall use the academic privilege of taking
a free and forward-looking perspective. My point of view will, therefore,
not necessarily coincide with that of my institution. Moreover, I shall not
be objective, because I shall mainly draw on the intellectual and practical
experiences that have constituted my professional life.
2. POLICY MISSIONS
Policy missions have not been altered by the start of the euro. They
correspond to aspects of the public interest that were not redefined, and
did not need a redefinition, because of the euro.
In the field of central banking the public interest is to provide
economic activity with a medium of exchange that preserves its value over
time. In the broader field of economic policy - of which monetary policy is
part - the public interest is, to use words from the Maastricht Treaty that
can be similarly found in most national constitutions and legislation, "to
promote economic and social progress which is balanced and sustainable"
(Article B). In the field of European integration, the mission is that of
"creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe, in which
decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen" (Article A).
Finally, in the field of international relations the public interest is to
"maintain international peace and security" (UN Charter Article 1.1) as
well as to "contribute to the promotion and maintenance of high level of
employment and real income" (Articles of Agreement of the IMF, Article
The formulation of these policy missions has taken shape over the
course of this century, or even earlier, on the basis of experience,
scholarly investigation, political debate and action. There would be no
consensus about the primary mission of the central bank if countries had
not experienced first hyperinflation and then successful monetary
management by a stability-oriented and independent central bank. Social
progress and economic growth would not be on the agenda of governments
without the labour movement and the Great Depression. We would not have the
EU Treaties and the Charter of the UN without the tragedy of two World
Economists have explored the scope for economic policy action, and
the limits thereof, in the monetary, fiscal and regulatory fields. Without
thirty years of academic debate about the role of monetary policy, the EMU
Treaty and the Statute of the ESCB/ECB would not have been written the way
they were. The subordination of economic policies to the principle of "an
open market economy with free competition" would not have been explicitly
inserted in the Maastricht Treaty (Article 3A) had those principles not
gained recognition in the community of scholars.
Central bankers (most notably in the Delors Committee) have prepared
the blueprint for the single currency. International and constitutional
lawyers have elaborated the legal concepts and studied the procedures to
carry out the policy missions. They have built that legal monument that is
the Rome/Maastricht Treaty. Citizens and politicians have discussed,
promoted and implemented the whole process.
Different policies carry different degrees of compulsion and
effectiveness. In general, instruments are more strongly framed when they
are entrusted to institutions whose area of jurisdiction coincides with
that of the nation state. Strongly framed instruments, however, do not
necessarily produce strong results. Tough regulation against air pollution
adopted only by a small country is less effective, for that same country,
than softer regulation adopted by a larger group of countries. The economic
literature about externalities, or that about optimal currency areas, are
seminal examples of the contribution economic research can make in this
In the following I shall focus on the mission of the central banker,
because this is the function assigned to me. I am convinced, however, that
the missions I mentioned are fundamentally complementary. Different
assignments are part of an orderly division of labour. In a democratic and
market-oriented environment not only citizens, but also officials, can
consider the aims of the various policy bodies and charters - national and
international - to which they refer as forming a consistent configuration.
I regard this as a special privilege of the time and space in which I have
lived so far.
3. NEW CHALLENGES
In the last thirty years central bankers have fought for two
objectives: the recognition of the primacy of price stability for monetary
policy, and the independence of the central bank. This has been the period
in which the combination of political democracy and fiduciary currency made
the governance of money particularly difficult in many countries.
The intellectual recognition, then the political acceptance and
finally the actual implementation of a monetary constitution based on price
stability and central bank independence have required a long process. The
academic profession has contributed to it in a powerful way, from Irving
Fisher to Don Patinkin to Robert Lucas. Even those who have denied the need
of having a central bank, like Milton Friedman and Friedrich A. von Hayek,
have in the end contributed to clarify its role and function. No less
persuasive have been the arguments of experience. In a positive sense, the
economic success of the country - Germany - where the two elements had been
introduced at an early stage. In a negative sense, the social evil of high
and prolonged inflation suffered by many other countries, including my own.
In legal and institutional terms, the result of this long fight has
been engraved in the Treaty of Maastricht. The Treaty represents the
strongest monetary constitution ever written, not only because of its
substance, but also because the procedure to amend it is more difficult
than that required for the charter of any existing central bank. Largely
induced by Maastricht and EMU is also the independent status of national
central banks in the European Union. We should indeed not forget that,
until recently, key decisions in the field of monetary policy were still in
the hands of the Treasury in such countries as the United Kingdom, France,
Italy and Spain. The Maastricht process has been the catalyst for monetary
reforms central bankers had advocated for years.
Partly, but not exclusively, because of this process, the conditions
under which the single currency has come to life differ from those
prevailing in the past years.
Prices have for some time now shown the highest degree of stability
seen for more than thirty years. Most countries have made significant
progress towards fiscal consolidation. The consensus on sound principles of
budgetary and monetary management is broader and stronger, among both
politicians and ordinary people, than in any other period the present
generation can remember. Few dispute in an open way the now widely used
expression "culture of stability".
However, when in 1981 it was decided to save the last specimen of the
smallpox virus in a laboratory for the sake of documentation, health had
not ceased to be in danger. Similarly, none of these achievements can be
considered as permanent and central bankers should primarily strive to
preserve them. To this end, detecting new challenges at an early stage is
essential. The question is: where do the problems come from? What are the
circumstances under which the "old mission" will have to be accomplished in
the coming years? What threatens our health besides smallpox?
4. MAKING THE EUROSYSTEM A CENTRAL BANK
The first challenge consists in making the Eurosystem a central bank.
It may seem simple, but is not. Let me start my explanation from the two
key words of this proposition.
Eurosystem is the word chosen by the ECB to indicate the "ECB+11
participating national central banks", i.e. the central bank of the euro.
The Treaty has no name for this key entity, while it refers extensively to
the ESCB (European System of Central Banks) formed by the ECB and the 15
European national central banks). However, as long as there are "out"
countries, the ESCB in its full composition will remain a scarcely relevant
entity because it neither refers to a single currency area nor has any
policy competence. Instead, the word Eurosystem indicates clearly the
articulated entity which is for the euro what the Federal Reserve System is
for the dollar.
Central bank is the institution in charge of the public interests
associated with the currency. It originates from fundamental changes in the
technology of payments: the adoption of banknotes, cheques and giros, and
their final disconnection from gold. These changes have shaped the two
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