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How the Maastricht Regime Fosters Divergence as Well as Fragility

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  • Jorg Bibow
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    Abstract

    This paper investigates the phenomenon of persistent macroeconomic divergence that has occurred across the eurozone in recent years. Optimal currency area theory would point toward asymmetric shocks and structural factors as the foremost candidate causes. The alternative hypothesis pursued here focuses on the working of the Maastricht regime itself, making it clear that the regime features powerful built-in destabilizers that foster divergence as well as fragility. Supposed adjustment mechanisms actually have turned out to undermine the operation of the currency union by making it less “optimal,” that is, less subject to a "one-size-fits-all" monetary policy and common nominal exchange rate, in view of the resulting business cycle desynchronization and related build-up of financial imbalances. The threats of fragility and divergence reinforce each other. Without regime reform these developments could potentially spiral out of control, threatening the long-term survival of EMU.

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    Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_460.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_460

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    1. Joerg Bibow, 2006. "Inflation Persistence and Tax-Push Inflation in Germany and in the Euro Area: A Symptom of Macroeconomic Mismanagement?," IMK Studies 01-2006, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    2. Jorg Bibow, 2005. "Germany in crisis: the unification challenge, macroeconomic policy shocks and traditions, and EMU," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 29-50.
    3. De Grauwe, Paul & Mongelli, Francesco Paolo, 2005. "Endogeneities of optimum currency areas: what brings countries sharing a single currency closer together?," Working Paper Series 0468, European Central Bank.
    4. Mongelli, Francesco Paolo, 2002. "ìNew" Views on the Optimum Currency Area Theory: What is EMU Telling US?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 140, Royal Economic Society.
    5. Hein, Eckhard & Truger, Achim, 2005. "European Monetary Union: nominal convergence, real divergence and slow growth?," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 7-33, March.
    6. Joerg Bibow, 2003. "Is Europe Doomed to Stagnation? An Analysis of the Current Crisis and Recommendations for Reforming Macroeconomic Policymaking in Euroland," General Economics and Teaching 0306002, EconWPA.
    7. Allsopp, Christopher & Vines, David, 1998. "The Assessment: Macroeconomic Policy after EMU," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(3), pages 1-23, Autumn.
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