Very quietly and almost unnoticed by financial media in US , the has reached an important milestone – 10 year anniversary. The ECB came into being June 1, 1998, as 11 European countries drew closer to merging their currencies. The Euro was launched on Jan. 1, 1999 on financial markets, and Euro notes and coins were introduced on January 1, 2002. The bank now controls monetary policy for 15 Euro countries.
Bank’s creation followed Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way for the single Euro currency .The treaty mandates fighting inflation as the ECB’s main priority, and so far members of the rate-setting governing council have stayed firmly with that message. This stance has been been somewhat criticized lately. There are claims that this policy has pushed the Euro to high, potentially hurting European exporters.
Just how steadfast has ECB been in fulfilling its primary objective? The bank has kept its key rate at 4 percent since June 2007 to fight inflation that hit a record high of 3.6 percent in March and again in May, well above its stated goal of around 2 percent. Bank’s actions are not in line with other central banks, namely Bank of England, and U.S. Federal Reserve, which have been cutting their respective benchmarks.
This 10 year anniversary is certainly a success story, but not without some difficulties. European Central Bank has seen the Euro plunged from initial EUR-USD valuation of about 1.2000 to 0.8200 in 2000. Since then, however, the currency has enjoyed a steady rise to a recent high of 1.6000. Almost double from the bottom. Truly a rare feat in among major currencies.
Today it may seem strange, but Euro and ECB success was not a forgone conclusion at the beginning. There were many voices both within Europe and outside which not only questioned a wisdom of single currency, but predicted that the monetary union wouldn’t last five years, much less ten. Europe’s Central Bank has managed to clear away the doubts that surrounded the Euro at the beginning 10 years ago. Also, officials state that common currency and Bank’s policies have added 15 million new jobs in the last six years by making trade and travel easier.
What is next? Well, as it looks right, ECB is sure to be around for at least 10 more years. It is almost certain that additional countries will join Euro zone. Slovakia, Hungary, Check Republic, Poland and others, pending outcome of national referendums and meeting inclusion requirements. Poland will likely have the biggest impact, as it is home to 40 million people and fast growing economy.
Following latest officials remarks, there is general belief that ECB will join the ranks of other central banks and start slushing interest rates. That is expected to strengthen the dollar , which is “uncomfortably weak”, and bring down costs of commodities, mainly oil, the biggest single cause for inflation in Euro zone. Once again in line with Bank’s main role.
We are sure to be influenced by European Central Bank decisions for many years to come. Happy birthday!
Mike P. Kulej is a Chief Forex Strategist for Spectrum Forex LLC. He specializes in mechanical trading systems as explained on www.spectrumforex.com . Spectrum Forex LLC offers numerous services to individual traders. With questions and comments e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.