Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), is set to speak on the state of the European and global economies on Wednesday.
If his past views are any indication of what he’ll say, it will most likely focus on the ECB taking steps towards further loosening European monetary policy by expanding ECB-style quantitative easing.
(As a note, quantitative easing involves central banks buying bonds from certain sellers in an attempt to manipulate medium-term and long-term yields, and thus, theoretically boosting economic growth.)
Mario Draghi’s push for loose monetary policy
The broad move towards further quantitative easing comes interestingly at a time when the Federal Reserve is winding down QE3. Tucked beneath Mr. Draghi’s push for incredibly loose monetary policy are two deeply held views.
The first view is a concern that disinflation or even deflation would be bad for the European economies.
The second, related view is that governments are partially to blame for the disinflation across the continent, in that governments have been “pushed” towards balancing their budgets by the master of the Eurozone – the Germans.
On the first view, here’s what Draghi is looking at, some of which will have new numbers in a couple of days (Thursday is the estimate of inflation across the Eurozone, interestingly a day after Draghi gives his view of central banking and the future of the Eurozone economies).
The top-left are the hated Germans, who have been pushing for more prudent Eurozone government spending. Inflation in Germany is floating around the upper-end of inflation rates for the bigger EU economies, at 0.8% Y/Y.
Mario Draghi: EU nation inflation rate
The EU nation with the highest inflation rate, the UK, is interestingly not subject to ECB jurisdiction. Inflation in the UK is currently running at 1.3% Y/Y (middle-right).
The nation within ECB purview with the highest inflation rate – at least of the big EU economies – is the Netherlands, currently floating at about 0.9% Y/Y (bottom right).
Behind inflation in the Netherlands and Germany is inflation in France, at 0.4% Y/Y.
On the middle-left and bottom-left are the inflation rates Italy and Spain. Inflation has turned to deflation in these two countries, with Italy’s deflation currently at -0.1% and Spanish deflation at -0.2%.
Here’s a look at inflation across smaller EU countries. In 5 out of the 8 shown, deflation is now the story (Belgium, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Greece).
Over all 8 shown, a general downward trend towards deflation or disinflation began sometime in late 2011.
Overall, Draghi is likely to make his case on Wednesday that disinflation or outright deflation is bad for the competitiveness of the EU economies. Whether he is right is a completely different discussion (hint: he’s not).