The European Central Bank Is Not The Federal Reserve

Memo to U.S. traders: Set aside the ECB and focus on what our own Fed might say next week.

On Thursday, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi announced the ECB is cutting its primary deposit rate from -0.3% to -0.4%. This was as expected. But the ECB also expanded its securities buying program from 60 billion euros a month to 80 billion. This was 10 billion more than expected. The ECB also expanded the list of eligible securities to include non-bank corporate bonds.

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By the reaction in the U.S. markets, you would think those policy changes included the United States. Dow futures are up 150 points as European stock indexes have popped higher by 2.5%.

Negative interest rates aren’t working in Europe or Japan, but those central bankers keep believing. I don’t think the United States will be forced down that path, but never say never. Our Fed will have plenty of time to study the failure of negative rates and should have the sense to avoid that when the United States falls into a recession sometime in the coming years.

Dwight Johnston is the chief economist of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and president of Dwight Johnston Economics. He is the author of a popular commentary site and is a frequent speaker at credit union board planning sessions and industry conferences.

March 10, 2016

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