European monetary system and european currency

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3. My remarks, however, will focus on another, less fundamental but still important novelty of the monetary constitution that has just come into existence. It is the novelty of the abandonment of the coincidence between the area of jurisdiction of monetary policy and the area of jurisdiction of banking supervision. The former embraces the 11 countries that have adopted the euro, while the latter remains national. Just as we have no precedent of any comparable size of money disconnected from states, we have no precedent for a lack of coincidence between the two public functions of managing the currency and controlling the banks.

In the run-up to the euro this feature of the system was explored, and some expressed doubts about its effectiveness. I will tonight examine the problems of banking supervision in the euro area. The plan of my remarks is the following. I will first review the existing institutional framework for the prudential control of banks in EMU. I will then examine the likely scenario for the European banking industry in the coming years. Against this institutional and industry background, I shall then discuss the functioning of, and the challenges for, banking supervision and central banking in the euro area, both in normal circumstances and when a crisis occurs.


4. The origin and developments of modern central banks are closely linked to key changes undergone by monetary systems over the past two centuries. Such changes could, very sketchily, be summarised as follows. First, paper currency established itself as a more convenient means of payment than commodity currencies. Second, commercial bank money (bank deposits) spread as a convenient substitute for banknotes and coins. Third, the quantity of money was disconnected from the quantity of gold. Thus, a double revolution in the technology of the payment system, the advent of banknotes and that of cheques or giros, has shaped the functions that most central banks performed over this century: monetary policy and prudential supervision. Man-made money made monetary policy possible. The fact that a large, now a predominant, component of the money stock was in the form of commercial bank money made banking supervision necessary.

Ensuring confidence in the paper currency and, later, in the stability of the relationship, one could say the exchange rate, between central bank and commercial bank money, were twin public functions, and, in general, they were entrusted to the same institution. Just as money has three well-known economic functions - means of payment, unit of account and store of value - so there are three public functions related to each of them. Operating and supervising the payment system refers to money as a means of payment; ensuring price stability relates to money as a unit of account and a store of value; and pursuing the stability of banks relates to money as a means of payment and a store of value. In each of the three functions commercial banks have played, and still largely play, a crucial role.

In an increasing number of countries the original triadic task entrusted to the central bank has now been abandoned in favour of a "separation approach", according to which banking supervision has been assigned to a separate institution. Following the recent adoption by the United Kingdom and Luxembourg of the separation approach, only two of the 12 countries represented in the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision (Italy and the Netherlands) have the central bank as the only authority responsible for banking supervision. In all systems, however, whether or not it has the task of supervising the banks, the central bank is deeply involved with the banking system precisely because the banks are primary creators of money, providers of payment services, managers of the stock of savings and counterparties of central bank operations. No central bank can ignore the need to have a concrete and direct knowledge of "its" banking system, i.e. the banking system that operates in the area of its monetary jurisdiction.

Personally, I have an intellectual attachment to, as well as a professional inclination for, the central bank approach to banking supervision, due partly to the fact that I spent most of my professional life in a central bank which is also to this day the banking supervisor. Yet I can see, I think, the arguments that have led a growing number of industrialised countries to prefer the separation approach. Such arguments basically point to the potential conflict between controlling money creation for the purpose of price stability and for the purpose of bank stability. On the whole, I do not think that one model is right and the other wrong. Both can function, and do function, effectively; if inappropriately managed, both may fail to satisfy the public interest for which banks are supervised.

Реферат опубликован: 12/08/2008