European Policy and Markets: Did Policy Initiatives Stem the Sovereign Debt Crisis in the Euro Area?

U. Michael Bergman, Michael M. Hutchison, Svend E. Hougaard Jensen

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We investigate how European policy initiatives influenced market assessments of sovereign default risk and banking sector fragility during the sovereign debt crisis in four adversely affected countries — Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy. We focus on three broad groups of policies: (a) ECB policy actions (monetary and financial support), (b) EU programs (financial and fiscal rules as well as financial support in crisis countries), and (c) domestic austerity programs. We measure immediate market impact effects: what policies changed risk perceptions, using CDS spreads on sovereign bonds and banks in this assessment. We employ dynamic panel and event study methodologies in the empirical work. We find that a number of programs initially stabilized sovereign and bank bond markets (e.g. Outright Monetary Transactions program), although announcement and implementation impacts on markets differed in some cases (e.g. second Covered Market Bond Program). Actions designed to shore up sovereign markets often lowered risk assessments in bank bond markets and policies designed to ensure safety and soundness of the European banking system in some cases significantly impacted sovereign debt markets. Finally, a number of policies designed to stabilize markets had surprisingly little immediate impact on either sovereign or bank bond market risk assessments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • EU policy initiatives
  • Transmission of policy news
  • Euro crisis

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