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The Bail-Out! Positive Political Economics of Greek-type Crises in the EMU

  • Christian Fahrholz
  • Cezary Wójcik

The Greek bail-out was highly controversial. An oft-heard assessment is that i) the bail-out was a mistake, ii) the political haggling over it was irrational and iii) the bail-out will create a moral hazard problem. Contrary to this view, our analysis suggests that, given EMU’s present political-economic set-up, i) the bail-out was unavoidable, ii) the lengthy process of political haggling leading to it was understandable, and iii) the bail-out does not have to be necessarily associated with a future moral hazard problem. Based on our analysis, we suggest that the EMU’s institutional design could be improved by establishing ‘exit rules’ and that bail-outs should be made rule-based. We have based our analysis on a political-economic, game-theoretic model that helps to understand why and how the parties involved in the Greek crisis arrived at the bail-out and on what conditions the final solution depended. The model allows tracing analytically the dynamics of the negotiation processes as well as the conditions and parameters on which the scope and limits of fiscal redistribution in EMU depends. In doing so, we formally take account of the ‘negative externality’ problem that has been central to policy debates related to the EMU’s institutional design and has played an important role in the Greek crisis. However, contrary to the existing literature, we do not only focus on the economic aspects of such negative externality, but also look at where they emanate from and interact with political factors, in particular the dynamics of the political negotiation process within the EMU.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3178.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3178
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  1. Schwarz, Michael & Sonin, Konstantin, 2005. "A Theory of Brinkmanship, Conflicts, and Commitments," CEPR Discussion Papers 5075, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Michael D. Bordo & Lars Jonung, 1999. "The Future of EMU: What Does the History of Monetary Unions Tell Us?," NBER Working Papers 7365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
  4. Larch, Martin & Jonung, Lars & Fischer, Jonas, 2008. "101 proposals to reform the Stability and Growth Pact. Why so many? A survey," MPRA Paper 20592, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Ludger Schuknecht & Albert Jaeger, 2004. "Boom-Bust Phases in Asset Prices and Fiscal Policy Behavior," IMF Working Papers 04/54, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Buti, Marco & Sapir, André, 2006. "Fiscal Policy in Europe: The Past and Future of EMU Rules from the Perspective of Musgrave and Buchanan," CEPR Discussion Papers 5830, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Jakob de Haan & Helge Berger & David-Jan Jansen, 2004. "Why has the Stability and Growth Pact Failed?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 235-260, 07.
  8. Riccardo Faini, 2006. "Fiscal policy and interest rates in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(47), pages 443-489, 07.
  9. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
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