There can be no doubt that some of the responsibility for the current Eurozone recession has to be laid at the feet of the ECB. Some of that might in turn be due to the way the ECB was set up. Specifically
1) That the ECB sets its own definition of price stability
2) This definition is asymmetric (below, but close to, 2%)
3) No dual mandate, or even acknowledgement of the importance of the output gap
4) Minimal accountability, because of a concern about political interference
It is generally thought that the ECB was created in the Bundesbank’s image. Tony Yates goes even further back in this post. Yet the irony is that the ECB abandoned the defining feature of Bundesbank policy, which could be providing significant help in current circumstances.
The defining feature of Bundesbank policy was a money supply target. Whereas the UK and US experience with money supply targeting was disastrous and short lived, the Bundesbank maintained its policy of targeting money for many years. There is little doubt that this was partly because the Bundesbank was in practice quite flexible, and the money target was often missed. Nevertheless the Bundesbank felt that maintaining that money target played an important role in conditioning expectations, and there is some evidence that it was correct in believing this.
When the ECB was created, it adopted a ‘twin pillar’ approach. The first pillar was the inflation target, and the second pillar involved looking at money. It was generally thought that the second pillar was partly a gesture to Bundesbank practice, and subsequently most analysis has focused on the inflation target.
There are very good reasons for abandoning money supply targets: they frequently send the wrong signals, and are generally unreliable in theory and practice. However a monetary aggregate should be related to nominal GDP (NGDP), and you do not need to be a market monetarist to believe there are much better reasons for following a NGDP target. What a NGDP target does for sure is make you care about real GDP, which would go a long way to correcting points (2) and (3) above. What it can also do, if you target a path for the level of NGDP, is provide a partial antidote for a liquidity trap, as I discuss here. More generally, it can utilise most effectively the power of expectations, which is why perhaps the most preeminent monetary economist of our time has endorsed them.
So do not blame the Bundesbank for the flawed architecture of the ECB. The ECB abandoned the critical aspect of Bundesbank policy, which was to target an aggregate closely related to nominal GDP. ECB policy has suffered as a result.