Trends in European Productivity and Real Exchange Rates: Implications for the Maastricht Convergence Criteria and for Inflation Targets after EMU
While overall inflation has fallen dramatically in countries like Italy and Spain, inflation in the home good sector remains stubbornly higher than inflation in the traded good sector. If nominal exchange rates are fixed, these real appreciations imply an inflation differential with countries like Germany. We first show that the real appreciations can be explained largely by differences in productivity trends across the traded and non-traded goods sectors. We then analyse the implications of the trends in productivity for the consistency of the Maastricht convergence criteria, and we discuss the pressure productivity trends put on monetary policy in countries like Italy and Spain to meet the convergence criteria; we also discuss steps that might be taken to change the trends in productivity. Lastly, we calculate the implications of current trends in productivity for the differences in regional inflation under a common currency. Comparisons are made with regional productivity trends in the United States.
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