Pubblicato in: Banche Centrali, Unione Europea

Ecb. Draghi. Nessuno è profeta in patria. Anni di prediche inascoltate.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-09-28.

EuroTower 002

Anche i più viscerali avversari delle politiche monetarie condotte dal Governatore Draghi alla fine devono ammettere che sia persona degna e preparata, cui molto devono gli europei.

Entrato in carica in un momento di profonda crisi mondiale ed europea, ha cercato di fare tutto il suo possibile per mantenere a galla la valuta europea.

Non solo, durante il suo mandato ha anche preso campo un processo devolutivo delle ideologie liberal e socialiste: queste non sono ancora scomparse ed il nuovo avanza implacabilmente, ma con i suoi tempi.

Per l’Ecb questo è stato un severo handicap. Mentre in passato era molto ben chiaro l’orientamento del’America, della Francia e della Germania, in questo periodo di turbolenze politiche se è limpida la rotta dell’America di Mr Trump, Mr Macron e Frau Merkel sembrerebbero essere quasi inesistenti.

Il Governatore Draghi è ritrovato in una solitudine ossessionante, combattuto tra il gratificare il vecchio che sta scomparendo oppure il nuovo che sta incalzando. Non ha controparte politica alcuna con cui poter fare programmi concreti.

Eppure durante tutti questi lunghi anni il Governatore Draghi aveva ripetutamente ed accoratamente mandato forti messaggi ai politici.

Il primo inascoltato messaggio consisteva nella semplice constatazione che le crisi economiche devono essere risolte con criteri economici: le manovre monetarie possono dare un certo quale periodo di respiro, ma il tempo dove essere impiegato proficuamente, perché alla fine arrivano sempre i conti da pagare.

Il secondo inascoltato messaggio consisteva nella constatazione che la banca centrale poteva sicuramente concedere un periodo più o meno lungo di tassi di interesse minimi, quand’anche non negativi: ma anche per questa evenienza il tempo avrebbe dovuto essere impiegato proficuamente, per mettere in atto tutte le opportune riforme strutturali.

Il terzo inascoltato messaggio consisteva nel ribadire come i debiti sovrani non possano crescere indefinitamente e che il loro rientro avrebbe dovuto essere obbiettivo primario dei governi dell’Europa.

Il quarto inascoltato messaggio verteva la natura stessa dell’Ecb. Il vuoto politico aveva obbligato la banca centrale a trasformarsi da prestatrice di ultima istanza in investitrice di ultima istanza: una manovra contro natura, anche esse destinata a durare un lasso di tempo limitato. Non solo, se a parole tutti reclamavano un’azione ancor più marcata della banca centrale, nessuno era intenzionato a delegarle gli adeguati poteri. un controsenso gridare che non sa nuotare la persona gettata in mare mani e piedi legati.

Il quinto inascoltato messaggio è stato quello sulla discrepanza tra un’Unione Europea cui non corrisponde la geopolitica economica e finanziaria dell’eurozona. Ma la soluzione di questo mostro organizzativo spetta ai politici, non ai banchieri centrali.

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È vezzo comune addossare alla banca centrale ed ai banchieri le colpe che invece competono alla classe politica. Molti fanno ciò in perfetta malafede, altri per grassa ignoranza dei fatti e della teoria.


Bloomberg. 2018-09-24. Mario Draghi Is Preaching In the Desert

For all the ECB chief’s efforts, Europe’s full monetary union is as remote as ever.

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Spare a thought for Mario Draghi, if you can. The European Central Bank president never tires of telling politicians about the urgent need to complete the euro zone’s half-finished monetary union.

His logic is sound about this being the best way to fight future crises. Yet after a year in which the region’s leaders failed to do even the most basic reforms, one can’t help feeling that Draghi is preaching in the desert.

He was at it again last week in a speech at Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance, where he presented a comprehensive plan for strengthening both the EU and the euro zone. For a start, the 28-member EU (27 in the event of Brexit) should finalize its single market by bringing in the sectors where it isn’t functioning, especially in services.

Then the smaller club of euro countries should complete their so-called “banking union,” which has moved the supervision of the largest lenders from national authorities to the ECB. This means, for example, creating a backstop fund for the euro zone to help if a bank gets into trouble. Draghi also wants the euro zone to create another pot of money to help countries when markets turn against them in an irrational way. That would avoid the kind of excessive fiscal tightening we saw after the last financial crisis.

Most economists agree that Draghi’s suggestions would help the euro zone thrive. The currency area has made big changes since the start of the sovereign debt crisis in 2011, for example by setting up the European Stability Mechanism. That joint fund will lend money at low rates to member states in a full-blown crisis. But the experience of 2011-2012 shows that euro zone countries still shoulder too much of the cost during a period of difficulty. So long as the member state can show it’s acting in a disciplined way, it only seems right to show greater solidarity after an external shock or a banking crisis.

Political leaders are aware of all this, but they’re doing precious little about it. This was meant to be the year when stuff finally started to happen, ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2019. But after a June summit of European leaders made only limited progress on the banking union, there’s not much appetite to reopen the discussion.

It’s all very similar to “Murder on the Orient Express” in that it’s impossible to pin the blame on any one state. The most obvious culprit is, of course, Germany. Berlin has refused any concrete progress on creating a joint deposit insurance scheme, which would protect depositors for up to 100,000 euros in a crisis. Berlin fears it would lead to the continuous transfer of money from northern Europe to southern Europe. But it’s ignoring the fact that joint insurance would make crises less likely, to Germany’s benefit. Germany could also use it itself in the event of a banking collapse, which isn’t impossible.

It’s not all Berlin’s fault, though. French president Emmanuel Macron did make a brave push for a more integrated euro zone when he took power. He also implemented French labor market reforms that bolstered France’s credibility with Germany. But his efforts on monetary union lacked focus. He insisted on getting the June summit to agree to a symbolic euro zone budget, even though it’s too small to make any difference. He’d have done far better to pursue a speedier completion of the banking union.

Italy is a whole other story. Its election of a populist government makes it very difficult for other euro zone members to agree to greater solidarity. A big part of buttressing the monetary union is that financial “risk-sharing” between countries should go hand in hand with “risk reduction.” Yet Italy’s ruling League and Five Star Movement are loudly critical of the euro zone fiscal rules, which demand that countries cut their budget deficit when the economy is recovering. They’ve opposed too the so-called “bail in”, where bondholders take a hit when a bank is resolved. It’s hard to imagine much progress on risk-sharing when the commitment to risk reduction is weak.

More generally, the EU seems too busy with other crises to care. The number of immigrants from Africa and Asia has fallen dramatically since three years ago, but the subject remains at the top of voter concerns. The clock’s also ticking on Brexit. While this is chiefly a problem for the British government, a catastrophic “no deal” departure would hurt the EU too, so the final stages of the process needs careful stewardship.

For all Draghi’s efforts, the monetary union is unlikely to make significant progress by the time he steps down in autumn 2019. He saved the euro, but he can’t guarantee its future.

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