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The EMU and the NAMU: What is the Case for North American Monetary Union?

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  • Willem H. Buiter

Abstract

The paper considers the pros and cons for Canada of monetary union between Canada and the United States. The current Canadian monetary arrangements, a flexible exchange rate and an inflation target, are contrasted both with a unilateral adoption by Canada and the US dollar and with a full, formally symmetric monetary union. Macroeconomic transactions costs savings argue in favour of either form of monetary union. Seigniorage considerations argue against unilateral adoption of the US dollar, but in favour of a formally symmetric monetary union. Loss of the lender of last resort is a powerful argument against unilateral monetary union. The optimal currency area arguments (which concern the macroeconomic stabilization aspects of a permanently fixed exchange rate) probably favour either form of monetary union. The shock-absorber properties of a flexible exchange rate are dominated by the extraneous instability and excess volatility inherent in a market-determined exchange rate when financial markets are highly integrated. On balance, the economic arguments favour a full, formally symmetric monetary union but not the unilateral adoption of the US dollar. Because of the absence of any democratic political institutions spanning both Canada and the United States, the political arguments against any form of monetary union are overwhelming. Without a North American Political Union, the transfer of national sovereignty to a supranational central bank would lack political legitimacy. The lack of institutions for ensuring the political accountability of a North American Central Bank means that NAMU is unlikely to happen and that, if it were to happen, it is unlikely to survive.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Toronto Press in its journal Canadian Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 25 (1999)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 285-305

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Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:25:y:1999:i:3:p:285-305

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  1. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 1999. "Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them," NBER Working Papers 7245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bayoumi, Tamim & Masson, Paul R., 1995. "Fiscal flows in the United States and Canada: Lessons for monetary union in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 253-274, February.
  3. Barry Eichengreen., 1996. "On the Links Between Monetary and Political Integration," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C96-077, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Engel, C. & Rogers, J.H., 1995. "How Wide is the Border?," Papers 4-95-16, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  5. Dowd, Kevin & Greenaway, David, 1993. "Currency Competition, Network Externalities and Switching Costs: Towards an Alternative View of Optimum Currency Areas," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(420), pages 1180-89, September.
  6. Buiter, William H & Purvis, Douglas D, 1980. "Oil, Disinflation, and Export Competitiveness : A Model of the "Dutch Disease"," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 185, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  7. Fidrmuc, Jan & Horvath, Julius & Fidrmuc, Jarko, 1999. "Stability of Monetary Unions: Lessons from the Break-up of Czechoslovakia," Transition Economics Series 10, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  8. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  9. Willem H. Buiter, 1999. "Alice in Euroland," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(2), pages 181-209, 06.
  10. William Poole, 1970. "Optimal choice of monetary policy instruments in a simple stochastic macro model," Staff Studies 57, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Buiter, Willem H, 1997. "The Economic Case for Monetary Union in the European Union," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(4), pages 10-35, Supplemen.
  12. Gordon G. Thiessen, 1998. "The Canadian Experience with Targets for Inflation Control," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 24(4), pages 415-428, December.
  13. Laidler, David, 1999. "The Exchange Rate Regime and Canada's Monetary Order," Working Papers 99-7, Bank of Canada.
  14. Masson, Paul R & Taylor, Mark P, 1992. "Common Currency Areas and Currency Unions: An Analysis of the Issues," CEPR Discussion Papers 617, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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