Easy Money through the Back Door
The Markets vs. the ECB
This brief assesses the experiences of Europe’s policy regime in the two years since the introduction of the euro in 1999, particularly the performance of the European Central Bank (ECB), the institution in charge of conducting monetary policy for the euro area. Conventional accounts of European growth, price, and labor market performance over recent years focus on labor market institutions and wage trends. By contrast, the interpretation offered here assigns a key role to demand-side factors as the driving force behind the recovery in output and employment growth. It is argued that the euro's plunge essentially resumed the trend of deutsche mark weakness that had started in 1996 and that currency depreciation amounted to a significant easing of monetary conditions.