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What is the "Shadow Council"?

The ECB Shadow Council provides a regular forum for discussion between academic and private sector economists. It aims to encourage and inform the public debate about monetary policy issues in a transparent format.

The ECB Shadow Council comprises 19 distinguished European economists with expertise in European monetary policy. It was founded in November 2002 upon an initiative of Handelsblatt, in co-operation with The Wall Street Journal Europe, as a panel to provide an independent perspective upon European monetary policy. The Council's members are drawn from a broad range of theoretical, professional and regional perspectives, and include academics, consultants and economists working for financial institutions.The Shadow Council usually convenes one week before the regular policy meeting of the official ECB Governing Council. The Shadow Council holds its discussions by telephone conference. Once a year there is a meeting in Frankfurt. At the end of the discussion members vote on a policy recommendation to the ECB.

Frequently Asked Questions

How well has the ECB Shadow Council been forecasting ECB decisions?

The Shadow Council does not aim at forecasting ECB decisions. The recommendations of the Shadow Council and its members are strictly normative in nature.

Are the recommendations of the Shadow Council based on the mandate given to the ECB by the European Union Treaty?

The treaty prescribes that price stability be the primary goal of the ECB. This mandate is also the basis of the judgement of Shadow Council members. However, members of the Shadow Council do not necessarily endorse the interpretation of the ECB governing Council of this mandate. The ECB first defined price stability as an inflation rate below two percent. Later it narrowed the definition to "below but close to two percent". Members of the ECB Shadow Council do not feel bound by this precise definition.. Most members think a symmetrical target range centred around two percent would be more appropriate.

Does the Shadow Council take market expectations into account?

The Shadow Council has concluded that market expectations of what the ECB will decide at the next policy meeting should not influence member?s recommendations. Otherwise there would be a strong bias to endorse decisions which the ECB Governing Council has signalled it is likely to take. This would make it difficult for the Shadow Council to assess these decisions on their economic merits.

How does the Shadow Council decide on a recommendation?

There is a preparatory exchange of arguments in favour of the different policy options, which is posted on this Internet-Site. A conference call is set up, during which these arguments are discussed in a direct exchange. Members are discouraged from committing themselves to a certain recommendation before a vote is taken at the end of the conference call. Preferences expressed in the pre-meeting discussion are preliminary until the vote is taken. Votes in absentia are possible but should be limited to the absolutely necessary. If there is no absolute majority in favour of a rate change of a specific size a two-stage vote is taken. First there is a vote on the direction of the move and then on its size.

How often does the Shadow Council convene?

Conference calls are scheduled in principle one week before the monthly policy meetings of the ECB Governing Council. During the ECB?s recess in summer and around New Year the conference call might be cancelled or substituted by an opinion-update via e-mail.

What is the role of Handelsblatt?

In 2002 Handelsblatt took the initiative - in co-operation with The Wall Street Journal Europe - to establish the ECB Shadow Council. Since its inception Handelsblatt correspondent Norbert Haering has chaired the meetings. He does not hold a seat or vote on the council, however.

How are members of the Shadow Council chosen?

The initial group was invited by Handelsblatt on the basis of their professional standing in monetary issues, with an aim at including a wide diversity of intellectual approaches and professional backgrounds as well as representatives of the major pre-existing ECB watchers groups. To fill vacancies Handelsblatt invites new members after hearing suggestions from current Shadow Council members, with a view on preserving and expanding the diversity of backgrounds and opinions.

Is there a copy-right or embargo on members? remarks and minutes?

All proceedings of the Shadow Council are in the public domain. Members? opinions as posted on the weblog can be quoted freely, provided that the context in which these remarks were made is clearly stated. The minutes of the meetings can also be quoted freely. Newspapers are asked not to report on the minutes of the meetings until Monday after the respective meeting, which is the day when Handelsblatt runs its own report.

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