Mr. Marco Arena, Mr. Rudolfs Bems, Mr. Nadeem Ilahi, Mr. Jaewoo Lee, William Lindquist, and Mr. Tonny Lybek
Several emerging market central banks in Europe deployed asset purchase programs (APPs) amid the 2020 pandemic. The common main goals were to address market dysfunction and impaired monetary transmission, distinct from the quantitative easing conducted by major advanced economy central banks. Likely reflecting the global nature of the crisis, these APPs defied the traditional emerging market concern of destabilizing the exchange rate or inflation expectations and instead alleviated markets successfully. We uncover some evidence that APPs in European emerging markets stabilized government bond markets and boosted equity prices, with no indication of exchange rate pressure. Examining global and domestic factors that could limit the usability of APPs, in the event of renewed market dysfunction we see a potential scope for scaling up APPs in most European emerging markets that used APPs during the pandemic, provided that they remain consistent with the primary objective of monetary policy and keep a safe distance from the risk of fiscal dominance. As central banks in the region move towards monetary policy tightening, the tapering, ending, and unwinding of APPs must also be carefully considered. Clear and transparent communication is critical at each step of the process, from the inception to the closure of APPs, particularly when a large shock hits and triggers a major policy shift.
As other emerging economies reliant on tourism (about 25 percent total contribution of tourism-related industries in GDP and employment), Croatia has been hit hard by the pandemic and two devastating earthquakes, leading the economy to contract by 8.0 percent in 2020. Vaccinations have been rolled out to about 38 percent of the population (end-June 2021). Staff projects growth to bounce back to 5.4 percent in 2021, driven by a rebound in the services sector and investment, aided by fiscal and monetary policies, and bolstered by large EU grants over the medium-term.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic loss of human life and major damage to the European economy, but thanks to an exceptionally strong policy response, potentially devastating outcomes have been avoided.