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Saving Europe's Automatic Stabilizers

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  • Barry Eichengreen

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract

European policy makers have repeatedly suggested that fiscal- policy coordination and fiscal federalism will play key roles in Europe's monetary union. This paper warns that this hope is misplaced. Fiscal federalism will not be available to offset recessionary shocks for the foreseeable future. The effects of coordination designed to internalize the cross-border spillovers of fiscal policies are too weak. Freeing up fiscal policy to replace national governments' loss of monetary independence requires allowing European countries' automatic stabilizers to operate. That in turn requires a flexible application of the Excessive Deficit Procedure and the Stability Pact. The solution suggested here is that the Excessive Deficit Procedure and any fines and sanctions associated with the Stability Pact be applied to the constant- employment budget balance, not the actual deficit. Applying them to actual deficits when European countries enter EMU up against the 3 percent limit will render fiscal policy strongly procyclical, aggravating the problem of macroeconomic fragility created by the loss of monetary autonomy. Still, countries like Germany haunted by the specter of fiscal profligacy need to be reassured that member states will not abuse their fiscal discretion. Procedural and institutional reform to offset the deficit bias in national political systems is the obvious quid pro quo.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9805013.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 29 May 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9805013

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  1. Eichengreen, Barry, 1990. "Is Europe an Optimum Currency Area?," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt40m5g6pp, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Mélitz, Jacques & Vori, Silvia, 1992. "National Insurance Against Unevenly Distributed Shocks in a European Monetary Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 697, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Buiter, Willem H & Corsetti, Giancarlo & Roubini, Nouriel, 1992. "`Excessive Deficits': Sense and Nonsense in the Treaty of Maastricht," CEPR Discussion Papers 750, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Hammond, George & von Hagen, Jürgen, 1995. "Regional Insurance Against Asymmetric Shocks. An Empirical Study for the European Community," CEPR Discussion Papers 1170, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. repec:fth:inseep:9219 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Tamim Bayoumi & Barry Eichengreen, 1995. "Restraining Yourself: The Implications of Fiscal Rules for Economic Stabilization," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 32-48, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael J. Artis & Marco Buti, 2000. "Close to Balance or in Surplus. A Policy Maker’s Guide to the Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 28, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  2. Jorg Bibow, 2003. "On the 'burden' of German unification," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 56(225), pages 137-169.
  3. Jorg Bibow, 2003. "On the 'burden' of German unification," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 56(225), pages 137-169.
  4. Jörg Bibow, 2001. "On the 'Burden' of German Unification: The Economic Consequences of Messrs. Waigel and Tietmeyer," Macroeconomics 0106004, EconWPA.
  5. Jorg Bibow, 2001. "Making EMU Work: Some lessons from the 1990s," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 233-259.

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