Europe: How Deep Is a Crisis? Policy Responses and Structural Factors Behind Diverging Performances
AbstractThe effects of the current crisis on the level of output, and consequently on unemployment and poverty, are likely to be deep and long lasting; they should not be underestimated, especially now that some timid signs of recovery are appearing. The crisis was triggered by the US financial sector, but its roots are real, and can be traced to the deepening income inequality of the last three decades, which led to a chronic deficiency of aggregate demand. In the Unites States, the center of the crisis, the policy reaction has been bold, and as a consequence the effects of the crisis are less important than in the eurozone, where only France has a comparable performance. The policy inertia of the eurozone countries, in fact, is more structural, and is related to the institutions for the economic governance of Europe. The statute of the ECB and the Stability and Growth Pact, that reflect a doctrine opposed to discretionary macroeconomic policies, constrain eurozone governments and its monetary policy. The relatively better performance of France can in fact be explained with these lenses: on one side it has a well developed system of automatic stabilizers, and on the other it suffered less than other OECD countries the deepening of income inequality.
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