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Die Theorie der optimalen Währungsräume und die politische Reformfähigkeit: Ein vernachlässigtes Kriterium


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  • Heinemann, Friedrich


In diesem Beitrag wird neben einem kurzen Überblick über die Argumentationsweise und Probleme der Theorie optimaler Währungsräume ein neues Beurteilungskriterium vorgestellt: die politische Reformfähigkeit potentieller Mitgliedstaaten einer Währungsunion. Hintergrund für diese Erweiterung ist das in Deutschland, aber auch in manchen anderen EU-Staaten, zu beobachtende Phänomen, daß es vielfach nicht gelingt, wirtschaftspolitische Reformen zu realisieren, die im Prinzip von breiten Bevölkerungs- und Parlamentsmehrheiten für notwendig erachtet werden. Politische Reformfähigkeit kann aber gerade in einer Währungsunion von großem Nutzen sein, wenn asymmetrische Schocks auftreten und wenn man davon ausgeht, daß den staatlich gesetzten Determinanten eine hohe Bedeutung für die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit einer Volkswirtschaft zukommt. Länder mit einer hohen inneren Reformfähigkeit eignen sich in doppelter Weise für eine Währungsunion, in der das Instrument des anpassungsfähigen nominalen Wechselkurses nicht mehr existiert. In diesen Ländern können direkt staatlich kontrollierte Parameter der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit wie etwa die Belastung von Unternehmen und Arbeitnehmern mit Steuern und Sozialversicherungen in die notwendige Richtung verändert werden. Indirekt wirkt sich die Reformfähigkeit positiv auch auf die Wirkungsweise anderer Anpassungsinstrumente, wie vor allem der Lohnflexibilität, aus. Aus dieser Erweiterung der Theorie der optimalen Währungsräume resultiert Skepsis gegenüber Tendenzen, die wirtschaftspolitische Autonomie der Mitgliedstaaten beispielsweise auf dem Gebiet der ?Beschäftigungspolitik? durch Kompetenzverlagerung auf die europäische Ebene zu beschneiden. Wenn es mit Beginn der Währungsunion darum geht, neue Instrumente zur Verarbeitung länderspezifischer Schocks zu finden, dann muß ein Autonomieverlust der nationalen Wirtschaftspolitik gerade vermieden werden. Asymmetrische Schocks machen möglicherweise auch asymmetrische Reformen notwendig. -- In this paper, a short survey is given on the contents and some problems of the theory of optimal currency areas. In addition, a new criterion for the assessment of the optimality of a currency area is proposed: the ability of member states of a monetary union to adjust their economic system to changing internal and external conditions. This extension of the conventional theory is inspired by a phenomenon that can be observed for example in Germany but also in other European countries: In spite of a principle consensus on the necessity of major reforms on such fields as taxes, social security and labour markets, these reforms are not being implemented. The ability to reform, however, is of particular importance in a monetary union when asymmetric shocks occur. It is plausible to assume that today those determinants of national competitiveness that are under the control of economic policy are of major importance. With this assumption, the ability to adjust these determinants smoothly to a changing economic environment is a possible substitution for the loss of the adjustment instrument of the nominal exchange rate. The conventional theory with the focus on private agents? behaviour - e.g. in the context of labour mobility or wage flexibility - seems to have overlooked the importance of economic policy in the adjustment process. From this extension of the conventional theory there results scepticism in regard to the tendency to a further centralisation of economic policy in Europe, as for example on the field of employment policy. EMU means that there is an increasing demand for instruments to cope with asymmetric shocks. Thus, there tends to be also an increasing need for nationally differentiated approaches of economic policy. Therefore, centralisation - which makes national differentiation more difficult - could prove to be counterproductive.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 98-02.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5177

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  1. Leonardo Bartolini & Gordon M. Bodnar, 1996. "Are exchange rates excessively volatile? And what does "excessively volatile" mean, anyway?," Research Paper 9601, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Tamim Bayoumi and Barry Eichengreen., 1992. "Shocking Aspects of European Monetary Unification," Economics Working Papers 92-187, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Smaghi, L.B. & Area, C., 1993. "Rating the EC as an Optimal Currency Area," Papers 187, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  4. Feldstein, Martin & Horioka, Charles, 1980. "Domestic Saving and International Capital Flows," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 314-29, June.
  5. Ricci, Luca Antonio, 2007. "A Model of an Optimum Currency Area," Economics Discussion Papers 2007-45, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  6. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
  7. Eichengreen, Barry, 1993. "European Monetary Unification," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1321-57, September.
  8. Canzoneri, Matthew B & Rogers, Carol Ann, 1990. "Is the European Community an Optimal Currency Area? Optimal Taxation versus the Cost of Multiple Currencies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 419-33, June.
  9. Daniel Gros, 1996. "Germany’s stake in exchange rate stability," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 31(5), pages 236-240, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Lenk, Thomas & Lück, Oliver, 2011. "Auswirkungen der Eurokrise auf Sachsen und allgemeine Implikationen der Krise," Arbeitspapiere des Lehrstuhls Finanzwissenschaft 43, University of Leipzig, Institute of Public Finance and Public Management.


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