BCE and the european fiscal policies: italy and germany divided on social media


The intervention of the Banca Centrale Europea (BCE) has become a constant for the public eye. Terms such as Inflation, deflation, negative rates, but also quantitative easing or bail-in have entered, and are now used on the daily. If before the actions of european institutions were interesting only for employees, the current economic crisis has made this subject relevant for everyone.
Our research was meant to understand the online conversations that happened around this subject in two main countries in Europe: Italy and Germany. In the period from november 2015 and february 2016, the number of posts referring to the BCE and the fiscal policies, in italian and german, reached important peaks. When talking about posts we’re referring to any online content posted on Social Media or spaces like forums, and blogs.
The quantity of discussions was higher from the month of november 2015. In that period, participants on print and online channels were already speculating about the success of the BCE reunion that would be held on the first week of december. It was a very expected meeting due to the fact that it would clarify some of the most discussed politics of the Central Bank, those regarding taxes applied to banks that deposited money to the BCE, instead of giving credit to companies. In the same meeting, other important decisions, such as quantitative easing (BCE’s  acquisitions of debt to give liquidity to the markets) were also going to be treated. A program that aimed at stimulating economy and blocking inflation in the Euro zone.

bce italia_germania

Fig. 1: Quantity of messages posted from 1 november 2015 to 29 february 2016


As mentioned before, the online reactions were different in Italy vs. reaction in Germany (Fig.1). If from november to february there were over 24 thousand posts in italian, there were only about 16,500 in german. The interactions that came from the posts were also significatively different, fo those in german there were around 6 thousand, while for italian there were more than 25 thousand. This means that in Italy it is more common to react to posts with a like or a comment, while in germany people are more reserved with online interaction.
From this we concluded that the european economic policies and BCE subjects in germany hold less conversational grounds than in italy.

The statistics confirm that the online social media engagement level regarding these subjects in Italy is much higher than in Germany.
The engagement rate (amount of posts that enable online conversations) was of 17 percent in italy, while in germany it was about 15 percent. There’s a similar situation with the reach (or number of people participating in the conversation), in Italy it was 18 thousand, while in Germany it was less than half of this number, with 7500.

BCE’s presence in Social Channels

The fact that german users are “less social”, when having complex discussions is a hypothesis backed up by the numbers of the analyzed channels (Fig. 2). While in Italy half of the posts or interactions depends on more participative platforms (Facebook, Twitter or forums), in gernamy the importance is kept for the initial post, which normally is online news form a media channel.

In the months the analysis took place, there were no groups that expressed their opinios as a whole, creating viral responses, instead, users acted individually and not very often. In Germany, blogs were essential sources of information, some of the most active ones were  Nachtwächter, Wiponews, Die Freiheitsliebe and Deutsche Mittelstands Nachrichten. Facebook e Twitter raccolgono solo il 16% dei contenuti (con account ufficiali di redazioni come Spiegel Online,  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung o WirtschaftsWoche). Facebook and Twitter put out only 16 percent of the content (on official accounts of media such as Spiegel Online,  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or WirtschaftsWoche). In Italy the activity was similar, with articles and blog posts by media such as, TermometroPolitico, Iceberg Finanza o Argento fisico.


Fig. 2: Distribuzione di post e interazioni nei canali web e social dal 1 novembre al 29 febbraio 2016

Fig. 2: Distribution of posts and interactions in web channels from the 1st of november to 28 feb 2016

Interest peaks on Social Media for BCE

Other than subjects related to BCE, the most talked about was the debate between the European Comission and the Italian government regarding deficit and debt, che contrasts “austerity” e “flessibilità”, subject that was less yalked about in Germany (Fig.3). An exemplary peak was evident on the 25th january 2016, when news media and social channels reported and commented the “monito” EU Commission in Italy due to “high risks” on Italian debt.

Another interesting peak was on the 2nd of march, due to a popular comment on Facebook posted by Alessandro Di Battista, from Movimento 5 Stelle, that talked about the problematic economic groth in Italy in the context of the quantitative easing. A fragment of the popular comment: “If we want to talk about ‘zero point’ we give the real numbers. Today, despite the “quantitative easing”, ie the European Central Bank (ECB)’s capital injection, and despite the lowest oil price in recent years, Italy has grown to half of the European average and is currently To 25th place on 28 European Union states in terms of growth.”

The german language peaks worth mentioning were mostly news and official announcements strictly related to german economy, like for example the report of poverty in the country published on the 21st of december. Another interesting peak on conversationwas registered in the days of 21 and 22 january 2016: the BCE board meeting and Mario Draghi’s declarations were extracted and commented in different online outlets (ie. Spiegel Online Twitter account).



Fig. 3: Distribution of posts and interactions in web and social channels from the 1st of november to the 29th of february.

The most active target around this subject are men

Only one of the aspects are compatible between both countries, and that is the  user’s interests: banks, taxes and economic policy are interesting for the men that, adding up both countries, make up for 80 percent of the target.

Audience BCE Italia_Germania

Fig. 4: Distribution of messages by interest from 1st november to 29th febbruary 2016.


In what way do these users, and the other 20 percent (women), follow up on Draghi & Co movements? We’ll talk about it on the next blog post. Stay tuned.

Carsten Wollenweber

German-born, he lives between Rome and Hamburg. An analyst specializing in political, economic and cultural issues related to European countries. After obtaining a degree in Political Science with a specialization in Institutional and Company Communication, he worked as a researcher for investigations on international markets, as an Editor for the Tiscali.de portal and as an analyst for Business Intelligence on China. Today, he works as a journalist, copywriter and translator. Languages: German, English, French and Italian.