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On a book by ECB’s economists

Summary:
An ECB’s Staff Narrative of Two Decades of European Central Banking: a critical review Working Paper n.866 Dicembre 2021Sergio Cesaratto DEPS, USiena Abstract Monetary Policy in Times of Crisis (Rostagno et al. 2021) has three relevant features. The first is its criticism of the absence of an adequate European fiscal policy during the financial crisis. This left the ECB on its own. The second feature concerns the explanation of the theoretical framework that guided the ECB's action. While it is interesting that the authors point out that monetary policy acts on the demand side (and is therefore neutral neither in the short nor in the long-run), a plain explanation of the channels through which the central

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An ECB’s Staff Narrative of Two Decades of European Central Banking: a critical review

Sergio Cesaratto

DEPS, USiena

Abstract

Monetary Policy in Times of Crisis (Rostagno et al. 2021) has three relevant features. The first is its criticism of the absence of an adequate European fiscal policy during the financial crisis. This left the ECB on its own. The second feature concerns the explanation of the theoretical framework that guided the ECB's action. While it is interesting that the authors point out that monetary policy acts on the demand side (and is therefore neutral neither in the short nor in the long-run), a plain explanation of the channels through which the central bank can influence demand is absent. The third feature is the chronicle of events and of the clash of positions within the ECB. This aspect would have, however, gained from a bolder and less conventional interpretative scheme. The book thus appears to be lacking both in a clear exposition of the ECB's analytical background and its evolution during the crisis, and in a comprehensive explanation of its policies. It is likely that the authors' economic training based on the neo-Keynesian mainstream model has greatly conditioned them in a technically convoluted, but too often uninspiring interpretation of events and policies. It is also possible that the difficulty of demonstrating the effectiveness of the monetary policy measures undertaken by the ECB in the absence of a proactive fiscal policy contributed to the widespread technical laboriousness of the argument in many pages of the book. Especially for academic teaching, but also for the informed public debate, a more accessible level would have been advisable. An appendix seeks to explain T-LTRO operations, the logic of which the book fails to elucidate.

Jel Codes

E11, E12, E52, E58, N14

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Sergio Cesaratto
Sergio Cesaratto (Rome, 1955) studied at Sapienza, where he graduated under the direction of Garegnani in 1981 and received his doctorate in 1988. He obtained a Master's degree in Manchester in 1986. He worked as a researcher at CNR where he was of Innovation Economics. In 1992 he became a researcher at La Sapienza, and then associate professor in Siena where he teaches Economic Policy and Development Economics.

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