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The Future of the Currency Union

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  • Frankel, Jeffrey

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

This note attempts a concise yet comprehensive overview of the crisis still facing the eurozone, in the areas of competitiveness, fiscal policy, and banking. The euro's founding documents enshrined such principles as fiscal constraints, the "no bailout clause," and assignment to the ECB of the goal of low inflation to the exclusion of monetizing national debts. Those principles have been permanently compromised. On the one hand, German taxpayers cannot be expected to agree to bailouts of profligate euro members without end. On the other hand, if they were to insist on those founding principles, the euro would not survive. It is especially important to recognize that the (predictable) impact of fiscal austerity has been to reduce output in the periphery countries, not raise it, and thereby to raise debt/GDP ratios, not lower them. The leaders have finally taken some steps in the right direction over the last year: movement toward a banking union; more adjustment time for Greece, Portugal and Spain; and ECB bond purchases. But for the countries that are to remain in the euro, much adjustment still lies ahead: more debt-reduction (painful for the creditor North) and more internal devaluation (even more painful for the uncompetitive South). As to a long-run fiscal regime that addresses the now-exacerbated problem of moral hazard, the Fiscal Compact is not enough in itself. Two innovations favored by the author are the red-bonds/blue-bonds proposal and the delegation of forecasting to independent fiscal agencies.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp13-015.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp13-015

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  1. Frankel, Jeffrey A. & Schreger, Jesse, 2012. "Over-Optimistic Official Forecasts in the Eurozone and Fiscal Rules," Working Paper Series rwp12-041, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2012. "Fiscal Multipliers in Recession and Expansion," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 63-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "The Effects of Fiscal Policy on Consumption and Employment: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2760, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Michael Woodford, 2010. "Simple Analytics of the Government Expenditure Multiplier," Discussion Papers 0910-09, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  5. Giovanni Callegari & Giovanni Melina & Nicoletta Batini, 2012. "Successful Austerity in the United States, Europe and Japan," IMF Working Papers 12/190, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8973.
  7. Eichengreen, Barry, 1993. "European Monetary Unification," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1321-57, September.
  8. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2002. "Current Account Deficits in the Euro Area: The End of the Feldstein Horioka Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 147-210.
  9. Beetsma, Roel & Uhlig, Harald, 1999. "An Analysis of the Stability and Growth Pact," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 546-71, October.
  10. Lars Jonung & Eoin Drea, 2009. "The euro: It can't happen, It's a bad idea, It won't last. US economists on the EMU, 1989-2002," European Economy - Economic Papers 395, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  11. Philip R. Lane, 2012. "The European Sovereign Debt Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 49-68, Summer.
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