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The Optimality of a Monetary Union Without a Fiscal Union


  • Beetsma, Roel
  • Bovenberg, A Lans


The paper explores the case for monetary and fiscal unification. Monetary policy suffers from an inflation bias because the monetary authorities are not able to commit. With international risk-sharing in a fiscal union, fiscal discipline suffers from moral hazard. An inflation target alleviates the inflation bias but weakens fiscal discipline. In a monetary union, however, this adverse effect on fiscal discipline is weaker. This advantage of monetary unification may outweigh the disadvantage of not being able to employ monetary policy to stabilize country-specific shocks. While monetary unification may thus be optimal, international risk-sharing may be undesirable because it weakens fiscal discipline.

Suggested Citation

  • Beetsma, Roel & Bovenberg, A Lans, 1998. "The Optimality of a Monetary Union Without a Fiscal Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 1975, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1975

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Rogoff, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-1189.
    2. Beetsma, Roel M W J & Jensen, Henrik, 1998. "Inflation Targets and Contracts with Uncertain Central Banker Preferences," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(3), pages 384-403, August.
    3. Gordon, Roger H & Bovenberg, A Lans, 1996. "Why Is Capital So Immobile Internationally? Possible Explanations and Implications for Capital Income Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1057-1075, December.
    4. Svensson, Lars E O, 1997. "Optimal Inflation Targets, "Conservative" Central Banks, and Linear Inflation Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 98-114, March.
    5. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
    6. Capie,Forrest & Fischer,Stanley & Goodhart,Charles & Schnadt,Norbert, 1995. "The Future of Central Banking," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521496346, May.
    7. Barro, Robert J. & Gordon, David B., 1983. "Rules, discretion and reputation in a model of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 101-121.
    8. Kletzer, Kenneth M., 1997. "Macroeconomic stabilization with a common currency: Does European Monetary Unification create a need for fiscal insurance of federalism?," ZEI Working Papers B 04-1997, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
    9. Beetsma, Roel M. W. J. & Lans Bovenberg, A., 1997. "Designing fiscal and monetary institutions in a second-best world," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 53-79, February.
    10. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Monetary Cohabitation in Europe," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 111-116, May.
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    12. Guy Debelle & Stanley Fischer, 1994. "How independent should a central bank be?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 38, pages 195-225.
    13. Anne Sibert, 1996. "Monetary Integration and Economic Convergence," Archive Working Papers 030, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
    14. Sorensen, Bent E. & Yosha, Oved, 1998. "International risk sharing and European monetary unification," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 211-238, August.
    15. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, January.
    16. Bent E. S�rensen & Oved Yosha, 1998. "International Risk Sharing and European Monetary Unification," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 327, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    17. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1987. "Rules and Discretion with Noncoordinated Monetary and Fiscal Policies," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(4), pages 619-630, October.
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    More about this item


    Fiscal Discipline; fiscal transfer scheme; Inflation Targets; Monetary Union; Moral Hazard;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission


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