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Why the current account may matter in a monetary union: Lessons from the financial crisis in the Euro area

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  • Spaventa, Luigi
  • Giavazzi, Francesco

Abstract

The current account has always been a neglected variable in the management of the Euro area and in the assessment of its members' performance; so has, as a consequence, the savings-investment balance. This paper first reviews the arguments that explain this attitude and justify, under some conditions and in some cases, the persistence of current account deficits. It then examines some peculiar features of the growth experience under monetary union in four Euro area countries which do not conform to the conventional convergence pattern. Models establishing the optimality of a succession of current account deficits in a catching-up process implicitly assume that the intertemporal budget constraint is satisfied, so that the accumulation of foreign liabilities is matched by future surpluses. In section 3 we first introduce explicitly this constraint in a simple two-period, two-good model and show that its fulfilment requires that growth be driven by an adequate increase of the country's production capacity of traded goods and services. By examining the composition of output and demand we show that this has not been the case in the four countries considered and argue that monetary union has helped relax the necessary discipline. The common monetary policy moreover did nothing to prevent an extraordinary growth of credit that fed the imbalances in the four countries. The paper closes addressing some policy issues related to the future sustainability o the monetray union.

Suggested Citation

  • Spaventa, Luigi & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2010. "Why the current account may matter in a monetary union: Lessons from the financial crisis in the Euro area," CEPR Discussion Papers 8008, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Francesco Giavazzi & Alberto Giovannini, 2010. "Central Banks and the Financial System," NBER Working Papers 16228, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kelly, Morgan, 2010. "Whatever Happened to Ireland?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7811, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    5. Athanasios Orphanides, 2011. "Monetary Policy Lessons from the Crisis," Chapters, in: Sylvester Eijffinger & Donato Masciandaro (ed.), Handbook of Central Banking, Financial Regulation and Supervision, chapter 2, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Christopher Martin & Costas Milas, 2010. "Financial Stability and Monetary Policy," Working Paper series 12_10, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    7. Olivier Blanchard & Francesco Giavazzi, 2002. "Current Account Deficits in the Euro Area: The End of the Feldstein Horioka Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 147-210.
    8. Charles R. Bean & Matthias Paustian & Adrian Penalver & Tim Taylor, 2010. "Monetary policy after the fall," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 267-328.
    9. Javier Suarez, 2010. "The Spanish Crisis: Background and Policy Challenges," Working Papers wp2010_1005, CEMFI.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Euro; Monetray union; Traded- non-traded goods model; Current account deficts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E51 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Money Supply; Credit; Money Multipliers
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration

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