communication

Michael Steen

Graffiti outside the ECB's future headquarters. (Getty)

Could the European Central Bank be learning a thing or two about managing the message? Ahead of Thursday’s interest rate-setting meeting, when policymakers will want to do nothing more than say “we’re holding steady”, it looks like the bank may come up with an eye-catching announcement to give everyone something to write about.

That something is the long-running and vexed question of why the bank that loves to tell you how transparent it is (well, at certain times, once you’ve cleared security and as long as you understand no quotes should be used from this conversation) keeps the minutes of its governing council meetings secret for 30 years. The practice makes it an outlier – the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan all publish minutes of their monetary policy meetings within a month of the meeting that they cover. 

Ralph Atkins

European Central Bank communication was not at its most brilliant ahead of this week’s deal on a second bail-out for Greece. Nothing has been said formally about the bond swaps, which will circumvent forced losses on Greek government bonds acquired as part of its eurozone crisis-fighting measures or by individual eurozone central banks for their investment portfolios. We still do not know, officially, the size of those holdings.

The result has been a lot of misinformation. One commonly held assumption is that some of the eurozone’s monetary institutions had worrying levels of exposure – for instance Cyprus’s central bank. In fact, the amount of Greek bonds it holds are much lower, I have been told by someone who has seen its figures.