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Crises and Policy Responses within the Political Trilemma: Europe, 1929-1936 and 2008-2011

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  • Nikolaus Wolf

    ()
    (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, CEPR and CESifo)

Abstract

The recent debate on the Eurozone failed to appreciate a particular characteristic of European crisis experiences, namely their fundamentally political character. To make my argument, I borrow from Dani Rodrik (2000) the framework of a “political trilemma” between cross-border economic integration, national institutions and democracy (in the sense of mass politics) and discuss its relation to the more commonly known “macroeconomic trilemma” as well as some limitations of the framework. The recent experience of a European debt crisis and the experience of Europe’s Great Depression can be interpreted as a “political trilemma”: both reflect the problem of designing effective policy responses to major economic shocks within the environment of deep economic integration across political boundaries and the regime choices that this involves. Within this framework I highlight some aspects of the 1930s that are informative to the policy choices in Europe today. Once we accept that some policy choices should be avoided, attention should be shifted to the remaining options and the obstacles that prevent their implementation, notably the challenge to transform democracy beyond national borders.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Historical Economics Society (EHES) in its series Working Papers with number 0016.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0016

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Keywords: political trilemma; great depression; euro-crisis;

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References

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  1. Nikolaus Wolf, 2008. "Scylla and Charybdis. Explaining Europe’s Exit from Gold, January 1928 – December 1936," CESifo Working Paper Series 2271, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo, 2002. "Fear of floating," MPRA Paper 14000, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Ritschl Albrecht, 2003. "Hat das Dritte Reich wirklich eine ordentliche Beschäftigungspolitik betrieben?," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 44(1), pages 125-140, June.
  4. Sicsic, Pierre, 1992. "Was the franc poincare deliberately undervalued?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 69-92, January.
  5. Reinhart, Carmen & Calvo, Guillermo, 2001. "Fixing for your life," MPRA Paper 13873, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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Cited by:
  1. Ulrich Pfister & Jana Riedel & Martin Uebele, 2012. "Real Wages and the Origins of Modern Economic Growth in Germany, 16th to 19th Centuries," Working Papers 0017, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  2. Francisco Comín, 2012. "Default, rescheduling and inflation : debt crisis in Spain during the 19th and 20th centuries," Working Papers in Economic History wp12-06, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Historia Económica e Instituciones.

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