Fiscal Fluency

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For European Central Bank, A Communication Challenge in 18 Countries, 15 Languages

draghi presser
ECB President Mario Draghi arrives for the bank's monthly news conference in Frankfurt. The bank will from next year publish minutes of its policy meetings and hold them every six weeks rather than every month, Mr. Draghi said.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Building trust among the 335 million residents of the Eurozone is requiring new levels of openness and dialogue from Europe’s central bank.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Only recently have central banks begun sharing information about how and why they are taking certain actions.
    • Communication efforts by the European Central Bank are modeled in part on those used by Germany’s Bundesbank.
    • The ECB faces a tougher task because it operates in 18 countries where 15 different languages are spoken.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Europe’s central bank has opportunities for communication.

The communication fostered by a central bank is a fundamental element of fiscal policy. In fact, it is an instrument of that policy.

Even those who have little interest in the central bank constantly come across statements by this or that central banker in the newspapers. Perhaps, in the end, they read the entire article because the statements of central bankers can have a significant impact on financial markets and, hence, on the savings of individual citizens.

Central banks were not always so communicative. There were times when the most important central bank in the world—the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank—didn’t even publish its decisions regarding interest rates. The rest of the world was expected to draw conclusions about fiscal policy from market reactions. Something like that can scarcely be imagined today, but it was only in 1994 that the Fed decided to promptly make public its decisions on interest rates.

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