If it’s not labeled, did it really happen?

The IMF has published its Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) report for the European Union. Usually FSAP reports are done for countries but this one looked at union level issues and institutions. The above is Figure 7 from it. It’s a chart showing a measure of spillover, which the report defines as the probability of a country being in distress given that other countries are in distress at the same time. Their point is that such spillover has been a feature of the Eurozone crisis since the summer of 2008.

Yet there is one strange thing about the figure. It blacks out two of the labels on the chart. But the imperfect blackout allows through various simple means to determine that the two dates that dare not speak their name are that for the Greek debt exchange and the Outright Monetary Transactions announcement. So clearly as the report went through the review stages, someone was sensitive about seeing these dates explicitly. Was it a claim that the data didn’t imply any clear link between spillover and those events, so putting them in looked like over-attribution? Or was it that the data showed too clearly that the Greek debt exchange failed to calm nerves — despite all the assurance at the time that it was a one-time, one country only deal — whereas aggressive ECB policy noises did? You’d think that this far into crisis, we’d at least be entitled to an airing of views.