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A Theory of Social Custom of Which Soft Growth May Be One Consequence. Tales of the European Stability Pact

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This paper reviews the arguments in favour and against the Stability and Growth Pact signed by the countries of the Euro area. We find the theoretical debate to be inconclusive, as both externality and credibility arguments can be reversed to yield opposite, and equally plausible conclusions. We therefore suggest the view that the stability pact is a social norm, and that adherence to that norm responds in fact to the need to preserve reputation in front of the other members of the European Union. Using this extreme but not implausible hypothesis, we build a simple model similar in spirit to Akerlof’s (1980) seminal paper on social norms, and we show that reputational issues may cause the emergence of a stable and inferior equilibrium. We further show that, when with the enlargement a number of countries anxious to prove their ‘soundness’ will join the Union, the problems posed by the pact/social norm are likely to increase.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2002-07.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:0207

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Keywords: Stability Pact; Stabilization Policies; Social Norms; Reputation; Enlargement;

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  1. Roel M. W. J. Beetsma & Xavier Debrun & Franc Klaassen, 2001. "Is Fiscal Policy Coordination in EMU Desirable?," IMF Working Papers 01/178, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Giavazzi, Francesco & Pagano, Marco, 1995. "Non-Keynesian Effects of Fiscal Policy Changes: International Evidence and the Swedish Experience," CEPR Discussion Papers 1284, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dixon, Huw David & Santoni, Michele, 1997. "Fiscal Policy Coordination with Demand Spillovers and Unionised Labour Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 403-17, March.
  4. Marco Catenaro & Patrizio Tirelli, 1999. "Reconsidering The Pros and Cons of Fiscal Policy Coordination in a Monetary Union: Should We Set Public Expenditure Targets?," Working Papers 30, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2000.
  5. Etro, Federico & Ageloni, Ignazio & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "International Unions," Scholarly Articles 4553008, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries," IMF Working Papers 96/70, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Francesco Giavazzi & Marco Pagano, 1990. "Can Severe Fiscal Contractions be Expansionary? Tales of Two Small European Countries," NBER Working Papers 3372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jensen, Henrik, 1996. "The advantage of international fiscal cooperation under alternative monetary regimes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 485-504, November.
  9. Levine, Paul & Brociner, Andrew, 1994. "Fiscal policy coordination and EMU : A dynamic game approach," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(3-4), pages 699-729.
  10. Marco Buti & Werner Roeger & Jan In't Veld, 2001. "Stabilizing Output and Inflation: Policy Conflicts and Co-operation under a Stability Pact," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(5), pages 801-828, December.
  11. Artis, Michael J & Winkler, Bernhard, 1997. "The Stability Pact: Safeguarding the Credibility of the European Central Bank," CEPR Discussion Papers 1688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1997. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries: Composition and Macroeconomic Effects," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(2), pages 210-248, June.
  13. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Laura Piscitelli, 2002. "Does One Size Fit All? A currency union with asymmetric transmissions and a stability pact," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 71-96.
  14. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries: Composition and Macroeconomic Effects," NBER Working Papers 5730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Andersen, Torben M. & Sorensen, Jan Rose, 1995. "Unemployment and fiscal policy in an economic and monetary union," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 27-43, March.
  16. 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.
  17. Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Fiscal Policy In Good Times And Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1399-1436, November.
  18. George A. Akerlof, 1978. "A theory of social custom, of which unemployment may be one consequence," Special Studies Papers 118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 1998. "The Stability Pact: more than a minor nuisance?," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 65-113, 04.
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Cited by:
  1. Catherine Mathieu & Henri Sterdyniak, 2003. "Réformer le pacte de stabilité : l'état du débat," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 84(1), pages 145-179.
  2. Jean-Paul Fitoussi & Francesco Saraceno, 2004. "The Brussels-Frankfurt-Washington Consensus. Old and New Tradeoffs in Economics," Sciences Po publications 2004-02, Sciences Po.
  3. Sébastien Pommier, 2008. "The Use of Fiscal Policy in EMU: First Appraisal and Future Prospects," EKONOMIAZ, Gobierno Vasco / Eusko Jaurlaritza / Basque Government, vol. 69(03), pages 28-45.
  4. Catherine Mathieu & Henri Sterdyniak, 2003. "Reforming the Stability and Growth Pact: Breaking the Ice," Sciences Po publications 2003-02, Sciences Po.
  5. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/1933 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Jean-Paul Fitoussi, 2005. "Politiche macroeconomiche e istituzioni : lezione 'Angelo Costa'," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/4601, Sciences Po.

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