From “Dividing by Zero” (Global Knowledge, 2016-2017), Ana Nives Radovic
The European Central Bank has injected huge amounts of assets into the economy over the past two years in the course of rediscounting public debt of the Eurozone countries, which represents an exceptional monetary measure, referred to as quantitative easing is intended to bring back the rise of the inflation rate, which is itself supposed to neutralize the deflationary and recessionary forces that are affecting development.
While in the beginning the single European currency was weighed down by the proclamation of these new measures to support the European economy, it has recovered against the dollar once the ECB has suggested that descend in interest rates should not necessarily carry on for the foreseeable outlook.
Since at that moment investors are beginning to distrust the efficiency of the monetary policy of the ECB and are increasingly worried about the collapse of solutions, and since the hope that its leaders have expressed that the rates should not go lower is not something that could restore their confidence. After that the dollar plunged to the lowest level since mid-February against the single European currency.
The whole situation has emerged at the times when recession started to put pressure on interest rates, because the investment requirements were extremely low, so the quantity of money borrowed falls by diminishing the interest rate. After this the ECB announced that it would lower its major interest rate to zero, with the plan of infusing inflation and increasing growth.
These conditions have caused the creation of three big problems – first of all, the situation that even the ECB has lowered rates the growth of the inflation rate did not return; second, the euro that lost its value because there was plenty of ready to use money in the financial sector of the Eurozone; third, the increase of public debt, since it was the tool that served as a security to the money produced.
Besides that, all of the liquidity boosters made the euro more plentiful, which decreased its value, first of all against the dollar, causing it became cheaper in terms of interest rates, while on the other side these financial actions constitute the access of the unsound environment of public debt. Conversely, any downgrading of the green currency makes dollar purchases of gold less expensive for traders with other currencies, which is a trend expected to uphold the price of gold, which as well benefits from its category as a safe haven, boosted by these circumstances.
With no the refinancing of the ECB, this kind of debt would have suppress the economy by collecting the money of individuals and companies, in the course of the balance sheets of banks and insurance companies, so the Eurozone countries have found a disposed creditors for their own refinancing at zero or even negative rates.
However, the two key features of this kind of indebtedness are that the total amount is equal with the aggregate of the sums borrowed by the country and the interest on the debt that the government has agreed to pay. On the first sight one might conclude that it is acceptable to practice financing by debt, though in this case, without bearing the burden of salaries, so in order to repay this debt the Sđstate has only one option and that is to charge a tax by forcing the taxpayers to pay it, which also has its particular cost.
In those cases when the central bank lends the money to the government at zero-rate, the central bank makes pure monetary creation since it does not pay off. This creates the market tension, especially because of the growing complexity of the repayment of the debt reinforcing the distrust of the depositors.
The only subject in the Eurozone that has the privilege of monetary creation is the ECB, although the Treaty of Lisbon bans lending directly to the states, explaining that that might mean rescuing the countries that would be those who receive the money by other members at their own cost, as well as in order not to cause inflation. Consequently those would be the Eurozone members that agreed the massiveness of their public debts, slightly in the form of deposits made with credits where other members act as lenders.
The situation as such would generate an extremely high inflation rate. Besides that there would be seen the strong tensions on interest rates or stimulated outcomes that would further increase it, creating an environment completely insupportable, both for households and companies, strongly affecting the poorest ones, as well as inflicting a heavy blow on middle class whose purchasing power would decrease so rapidly that the income tax would be impossible to collect in the amount planned by the yearly budget.
These were the reasons why monetary creation was presented as required. However it is inadequate to stimulate growth and inflation this way, because its actual purpose is to hide the public debt in the balance sheet of the ECB in the course of insignificant interest rates. Besides that, these are the banks that this possible through very low or zero interest rates, and whose savings will ultimately be cut off by inflation.
European contracts do not allow ECB to buy new debts issued by the Eurozone members, though it could only purchase them on the secondary market, using the existing savings rather than printing new money out of nothing. However, such public debts stay in proper balance sheets only as much as it is required to relocate newly issued money through quantitative easing program, which made these public debts replaced by nonexistent monetary assets.
All of this is a subject of financial authoritarianism, which represents a situation that leads to recession and a struggle against debt repayment. Financial repression is a context characterized by artificially low rates to reduce the burden of the public debt burden.