Applying Lessons from the Past? Exploring Historical Analogies in ECB Speeches through Text Mining, 1997-2019

No. 2021-10

By employing Text Mining methods such as Structural Topic Modeling to examine all 2,135 speeches by ECB Executive Board members between February 1997 and October 2019, this paper identifies and analyses a significant semantic change that occurred in ECB communication in the transition from Great Moderation to Great Recession. The methodology also allows for a structured and empirical assessment of the hypothesis that central bankers used ‘lessons from the past’ during the crisis. The quantitative and qualitative results indicate that references to historical analogies indeed increased at the height of the crisis (2009-11) but often served only rhetorical functions.

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