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Virtual currencies and terrorist financing: assessing the risks and evaluating responses

04-06-2018

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the TERR Committee, explores the terrorist financing (TF) risks of virtual currencies (VCs), including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It describes the features of VCs that present TF risks, and reviews the open source literature on terrorist use of virtual currencies to understand the current state and likely future manifestation of the risk. It then reviews ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the TERR Committee, explores the terrorist financing (TF) risks of virtual currencies (VCs), including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It describes the features of VCs that present TF risks, and reviews the open source literature on terrorist use of virtual currencies to understand the current state and likely future manifestation of the risk. It then reviews the regulatory and law enforcement response in the EU and beyond, assessing the effectiveness of measures taken to date. Finally, it provides recommendations for EU policymakers and other relevant stakeholders for ensuring the TF risks of VCs are adequately mitigated.

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Tom KEATINGE, David CARLISLE, Florence KEEN

Brexit, financial stability and the supervision of clearing systems

15-02-2018

This paper examines the evolution of the supervisory framework of third-country CCPs in the EU making special reference to risks associated with the imminent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit). Its key finding is that the proposed reform is in principle in the right direction but there are still challenges ahead and a more comprehensive package of measures will be required to address them.

This paper examines the evolution of the supervisory framework of third-country CCPs in the EU making special reference to risks associated with the imminent withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit). Its key finding is that the proposed reform is in principle in the right direction but there are still challenges ahead and a more comprehensive package of measures will be required to address them.

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Andromachi GEORGOSOULI, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London

Note on the interactions between payment systems and monetary policy

15-02-2018

This paper analyses the interactions between, on one hand, monetary policy and financial stability responsibilities of the ECB and, on the other hand, Post-Trading-Financial Market Infrastructures. Its basic conclusion is that Payment Systems are critical for monetary policy while Central Counter Parties (CCPs) are critical for financial stability. However, in stressed conditions CCPs can be the source of risks also for monetary policy.

This paper analyses the interactions between, on one hand, monetary policy and financial stability responsibilities of the ECB and, on the other hand, Post-Trading-Financial Market Infrastructures. Its basic conclusion is that Payment Systems are critical for monetary policy while Central Counter Parties (CCPs) are critical for financial stability. However, in stressed conditions CCPs can be the source of risks also for monetary policy.

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Francesco PAPADIA, Bruegel

The euro-area denominated payment systems and the conduct of monetary policy: Some considerations ahead of Brexit

15-02-2018

The framework for euro-denominated payment systems has undergone significant changes in recent years leading to a concentration of payments performed by Central Counterparty Clearing Houses. As it stands, a large part of euro-denominated transactions, derivatives in particular, are cleared through CCPs located in the UK; which poses challenges to the current supervisory framework because of the UK leaving the EU. Against this background, this note discusses the extent to which the current set-up ...

The framework for euro-denominated payment systems has undergone significant changes in recent years leading to a concentration of payments performed by Central Counterparty Clearing Houses. As it stands, a large part of euro-denominated transactions, derivatives in particular, are cleared through CCPs located in the UK; which poses challenges to the current supervisory framework because of the UK leaving the EU. Against this background, this note discusses the extent to which the current set-up bears risks, including for the conduct of the ECB monetary policy.

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Corrado MACCHIARELLI, Mara MONTI, London School of Economics

Geo-blocking and discrimination among customers in the EU

02-02-2018

Geo-blocking practices commonly restrict cross-border sales of tangible goods as well as of electronically supplied services and electronically delivered content services in the EU. In May 2016, the European Commission proposed a new regulation that prohibits online sellers of tangible goods, and of some types of electronically supplied services, from discriminating among customers based on their nationality or place of residence within the European Union. In November 2017, after protracted negotiations ...

Geo-blocking practices commonly restrict cross-border sales of tangible goods as well as of electronically supplied services and electronically delivered content services in the EU. In May 2016, the European Commission proposed a new regulation that prohibits online sellers of tangible goods, and of some types of electronically supplied services, from discriminating among customers based on their nationality or place of residence within the European Union. In November 2017, after protracted negotiations, the co-legislators agreed to ban some types of unjustified geo-blocking practices. However, the ban will not apply initially to content and services protected under copyright (for instance, e-books and downloads of music and audiovisual content). At the request of the Parliament, a review clause has been introduced which requires the Commission to re-examine the situation two years after the entry into force of the regulation.

TARGET imbalances at record levels: Should we worry?

15-11-2017

TARGET is the payments system for making settlements between euro area economies and five other EU economies. Cross-border transactions generate claims/surpluses and liabilities/deficits among national central banks which “net out” for the system as a whole. These imbalances are manageable in relative terms, but look large in absolute terms. None are larger than one third of their corresponding public debt ratios; and despite a big build up in the 2010-13 period, the imbalances now appear to be on ...

TARGET is the payments system for making settlements between euro area economies and five other EU economies. Cross-border transactions generate claims/surpluses and liabilities/deficits among national central banks which “net out” for the system as a whole. These imbalances are manageable in relative terms, but look large in absolute terms. None are larger than one third of their corresponding public debt ratios; and despite a big build up in the 2010-13 period, the imbalances now appear to be on a non-expanding cyclical path. The implications for the EU economies and their policymakers are less easy. The main drivers, beyond the need to fund persistent current account deficits or surpluses, are the use of different funding sources (some outside the euro area), internal and external portfolio re-balancing, loose monetary policy and exchange rate risks. TARGET imbalances support quantitative easing, but are not driven by it. The main threats are the divergence that interrupts further economic integration; and the increasing liabilities taken on by the ECB since 2015. That said, self-correcting mechanisms are weak which makes symmetric adjustments by both creditor and debtor countries essential (because of the adding up constraint); and the difficulty that the imbalances cannot always be eliminated simply by balancing current accounts around the system.

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Andrew HUGHES HALLETT

TARGET (im)balances at record level: Should we worry?

15-11-2017

LAccording to the ECB, the recent rise in TARGET 2 balances could be seen as the result of the decentralised implementation of the extended asset purchase programme (APP). The programme entails cross-border payments by the purchasing NCBs, with around 50% of involved counterparties resident outside the euro area, including the UK. These counterparties access the TARGET system via a limited number of financial centres, particularly Germany and, to a lesser extent, the Netherlands. According to the ...

LAccording to the ECB, the recent rise in TARGET 2 balances could be seen as the result of the decentralised implementation of the extended asset purchase programme (APP). The programme entails cross-border payments by the purchasing NCBs, with around 50% of involved counterparties resident outside the euro area, including the UK. These counterparties access the TARGET system via a limited number of financial centres, particularly Germany and, to a lesser extent, the Netherlands. According to the ECB, the increase in TARGET balances stemming from the concentration of cross border flows due to APP transactions would reflect technical features of the euro-area financial structure rather than evidence of financial stress. However, these imbalances recently may be well indicative of a persistent fragmentation within the euro area’s financial markets as well as uneven liquidity allocation; the risks of which may be understated. Against this background, the paper discusses what the underlying factors behind the recent rise of TARGET2 (im)balances are, and the risks associated to rising Target (im)balances for the ECB’s monetary policy.

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Paul DE GRAUWE, Yuemei JI, Corrado MACCHIARELLI

Should we be concerned about TARGET balances?

15-11-2017

This document was provided to Policy Department A at the request of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. The paper describes how the Eurosystem’s processing of cross-border banking transactions via its TARGET2 payments system produces a set of assets and liability items on the balance sheets of national central banks. The factors determining the evolution of TARGET-related balances are discussed and the risks associated with these balances are addressed.

This document was provided to Policy Department A at the request of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. The paper describes how the Eurosystem’s processing of cross-border banking transactions via its TARGET2 payments system produces a set of assets and liability items on the balance sheets of national central banks. The factors determining the evolution of TARGET-related balances are discussed and the risks associated with these balances are addressed.

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Karl WHELAN, University College Dublin

TARGET imbalances at record levels: Should we worry?

15-11-2017

The imbalances within the Eurosystem’s Target 2 payment system are an indication that financial markets are not fully integrated. However, the increase in these imbalances in the wake of the large asset purchases (often called QE, for quantitative easing) that started in early 2015, should not be a particular cause for concern. The imbalances had declined until the start of QE, accompanied by a reduction in risk premia. QE was associated with a further reduction in financial stress. There is thus ...

The imbalances within the Eurosystem’s Target 2 payment system are an indication that financial markets are not fully integrated. However, the increase in these imbalances in the wake of the large asset purchases (often called QE, for quantitative easing) that started in early 2015, should not be a particular cause for concern. The imbalances had declined until the start of QE, accompanied by a reduction in risk premia. QE was associated with a further reduction in financial stress. There is thus little reason to believe that the increase since 2015 reflects renewed fears about a euro break-up. The ‘technical’ nature of the increasing imbalances in the wake of QE is illustrated by the fact that the European Central Bank (the central institution of the Eurosystem) has also run up a negative Target balance of over €200 billion. No one would argue that this is motivated by a fear of a break-up of the euro area. There are reasons to believe that the recent run-up in the negative balances of Italy and Spain is due to similarly technical reasons.

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Daniel GROS, CEPS

TARGET (im-)balances at record level: Should we worry?

15-11-2017

Target2 balances have re-increased since late 2014 in parallel with extraordinary monetary policy measures. At first glance, the ECB’s asset purchasing programme seems to contribute just mechanically to a widening of Target2 positions. However, excessive liquidity provision reduces the role of cross-border interbank markets, which could otherwise reduce Target2 imbalances. Also, other factors like hetero-geneous country risk may also continue to play a role, but are concealed in the current monetary ...

Target2 balances have re-increased since late 2014 in parallel with extraordinary monetary policy measures. At first glance, the ECB’s asset purchasing programme seems to contribute just mechanically to a widening of Target2 positions. However, excessive liquidity provision reduces the role of cross-border interbank markets, which could otherwise reduce Target2 imbalances. Also, other factors like hetero-geneous country risk may also continue to play a role, but are concealed in the current monetary policy environment. After categorising the root causes of Tar-get2 imbalances (current account financing, capital flight, or deposit flight) and the associated risks, we discuss possible reforms that would prevent the build-up of large Target2 imbalances.

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Salomon Fiedler, Stefan Kooths, Ulrich Stolzenburg (Kiel Institute for the World Economy)

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