Europe’s economic slowdown makes the proposed normalisation of ECB monetary policy harder

european central bank


The European Central Bank’s gradual normalisation of its monetary policy should continue, but the economic slowdown in the euro-zone will likely delay any rate increases, and the window of opportunity is becoming increasingly narrow.

Key takeaways

  • At its meeting on 24 January, the ECB should consider the economic slowdown seen in the euro-zone’s four largest economies during the fourth quarter of 2018
  • To avoid a sharp slowdown in financial conditions, the ECB should discuss the possibility of new liquidity programmes targeted to meet the needs of banks
  • In the context of economic slowdown and a possible pause in rate hikes by the Fed, the normalisation of the ECB's monetary policy is becoming more complex

The latest economic developments in the euro-zone make it harder for the European Central Bank (ECB) to continue the gradual normalisation of its monetary policy.

The slowdown has impacted each of the region’s four main economies: Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Each is facing specific difficulties, but all four have seen a synchronised fall in activity indicators, including purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data.

In addition, core inflation, a key indicator for the ECB, is stagnating at around 1% – far from the central bank’s target of below, but close to, 2%.

The ECB will have to take note of these developments. Admittedly, there is no economic forecast due at the 24 January meeting, as the next update is scheduled for March. However, ECB president Mario Draghi should recognise that the slowdown in euro-zone growth, which was seen as temporary in December, will likely last longer than expected. This should be acknowledged even if he remains confident that a recession should be avoided, as he asserted in his speech to the European Parliament in December.

No one doubts the ECB will continue to act to avoid a sharper slowdown in financial conditions. Beyond the horizon of reinvestments announced in December – which could continue after the first rate hike – the central bank could also announce the possibility of new liquidity programmes in 2020. This would calm fears of markets drying up, especially in view of the targeted long-term refinancing operations (TLTROs) repayments.

By maintaining its very large balance sheet (42% of the euro-zone’s GDP), the ECB retains the ability to adopt an accommodative policy despite stopping its asset purchases.

But will the ECB be able to raise rates in the near future? Investors are doubtful, and have pushed their expectations of a first hike in the deposit rate to the second half of 2020. The window of opportunity is becoming increasingly narrow: the ECB can hardly act in a context of economic slowdown, but by waiting too long, it could face other headwinds – the Fed may well lower its rates in 2020, as anticipated by the markets a few days ago.

We are not expecting any significant impact on the market as a result of this ECB meeting, which should only confirm the expectations investors already largely hold.



About the author

Franck Dixmier

Franck Dixmier

Global Chief Investment Officer Fixed Income

Franck Dixmier is Global Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Fixed Income and a Managing Director with Allianz Global Investors. In this capacity, he leads and oversees the development of the firm’s Fixed Income capability and investment offering. He is a member of AllianzGI’s Investment Executive Committee and International Management Group.

Caution and flexibility: a new “behind the curve” strategy for the Fed

european central bank


In hitting pause on monetary tightening, the Fed is clearly planning to remain cautious and flexible while staying behind the curve. This offers a favourable context for risk assets in the short term.

Key takeaways

  • Fed Chair Powell's recent statements confirm a change of tone and strategy: the Fed will adopt a cautious and flexible approach to stay “behind the curve”
  • The Fed clearly wants to hit pause on monetary tightening and not increase rates in March – but it is unclear whether this is just temporary or an announced end to rate hikes
  • For investors, this pause from the Fed is an opportunity that offers a favourable context for risk assets in the short term
  • In the medium term, rate hikes cannot be ruled out if inflation overshoots the Fed’s 2% target
  • Investing involves risk. The value of an investment and the income from it will fluctuate and investors may not get back the principal invested. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. This is a marketing communication. It is for informational purposes only. This document does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security and shall not be deemed an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. The views and opinions expressed herein, which are subject to change without notice, are those of the issuer or its affiliated companies at the time of publication. Certain data used are derived from various sources believed to be reliable, but the accuracy or completeness of the data is not guaranteed and no liability is assumed for any direct or consequential losses arising from their use. The duplication, publication, extraction or transmission of the contents, irrespective of the form, is not permitted.

    This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authorities. In mainland China, it is for Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors scheme pursuant to applicable rules and regulations and is for information purpose only. This document does not constitute a public offer by virtue of Act Number 26.831 of the Argentine Republic and General Resolution No. 622/2013 of the NSC. This communication's sole purpose is to inform and does not under any circumstance constitute promotion or publicity of Allianz Global Investors products and/or services in Colombia or to Colombian residents pursuant to part 4 of Decree 2555 of 2010. This communication does not in any way aim to directly or indirectly initiate the purchase of a product or the provision of a service offered by Allianz Global Investors. Via reception of his document, each resident in Colombia acknowledges and accepts to have contacted Allianz Global Investors via their own initiative and that the communication under no circumstances does not arise from any promotional or marketing activities carried out by Allianz Global Investors. Colombian residents accept that accessing any type of social network page of Allianz Global Investors is done under their own responsibility and initiative and are aware that they may access specific information on the products and services of Allianz Global Investors. This communication is strictly private and confidential and may not be reproduced. This communication does not constitute a public offer of securities in Colombia pursuant to the public offer regulation set forth in Decree 2555 of 2010. This communication and the information provided herein should not be considered a solicitation or an offer by Allianz Global Investors or its affiliates to provide any financial products in Brazil, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay. In Australia, this material is presented by Allianz Global Investors Asia Pacific Limited (“AllianzGI AP”) and is intended for the use of investment consultants and other institutional/professional investors only, and is not directed to the public or individual retail investors. AllianzGI AP is not licensed to provide financial services to retail clients in Australia. AllianzGI AP is exempt from the requirement to hold an Australian Foreign Financial Service License under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) pursuant to ASIC Class Order (CO 03/1103) with respect to the provision of financial services to wholesale clients only. AllianzGI AP is licensed and regulated by Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission under Hong Kong laws, which differ from Australian laws.

    This document is being distributed by the following Allianz Global Investors companies: Allianz Global Investors GmbH, an investment company in Germany, authorized by the German Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin); Allianz Global Investors (Schweiz) AG; in HK, by Allianz Global Investors Asia Pacific Ltd., licensed by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission; in Singapore, by Allianz Global Investors Singapore Ltd., regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore [Company Registration No. 199907169Z]; in Japan, by Allianz Global Investors Japan Co., Ltd., registered in Japan as a Financial Instruments Business Operator [Registered No. The Director of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (Financial Instruments Business Operator), No. 424], Member of Japan Investment Advisers Association, the Investment Trust Association, Japan and Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association; in Taiwan, by Allianz Global Investors Taiwan Ltd., licensed by Financial Supervisory Commission in Taiwan; and in Indonesia, by PT. Allianz Global Investors Asset Management Indonesia licensed by Indonesia Financial Services Authority (OJK).

Allianz Global Investors

You are leaving this website and being re-directed to the below website. This does not imply any approval or endorsement of the information by Allianz Global Investors Asia Pacific Limited contained in the redirected website nor does Allianz Global Investors Asia Pacific Limited accept any responsibility or liability in connection with this hyperlink and the information contained herein. Please keep in mind that the redirected website may contain funds and strategies not authorized for offering to the public in your jurisdiction. Besides, please also take note on the redirected website’s terms and conditions, privacy and security policies, or other legal information. By clicking “Continue”, you confirm you acknowledge the details mentioned above and would like to continue accessing the redirected website. Please click “Stay here” if you have any concerns.