Michael Ehrmann, Marcel Fratzscher, and Mr. Helge Berger
Monetary policy in the euro area is conducted within a multicountry, multicultural, and multilingual context involving multiple central banking traditions. How does this heterogeneity affect the ability of economic agents to understand and to anticipate monetary policy by the European Central Bank (ECB)? Using a database of surveys of professional ECB policy forecasters in 24 countries, we find remarkable differences in forecast accuracy, and show that they are partly related to geography and clustering around informational hubs, as well as to country-specific economic conditions and traditions of independent central banking in the past. In large part, this heterogeneity can be traced to differences in forecasting models. While some systematic differences between analysts have been transitional and are indicative of learning, others are more persistent.
Using symmetric data sets of 92 weekly return observations before and after the introduction of the euro, the paper analyzes the impact of the new currency on the return structure of equity markets in the European Monetary Union. Variance decompositions, cluster analyses, and principle component analyses are used to explore the changes in the structural relations. European industry factors are found to have dramatically increased in importance with the launch of the single currency, and a new 'country-size' factor in European stock returns is detected. Furthermore, inner-European correlations are documented to have been reduced sharply with the start of the monetary union.