Asymmetric Labour Markets in a Converging Europe: Do Differences Matter?
Asymmetric economic structures across Europe may result in common shocks having asymmetric effects. In this paper we investigate whether the differences in the structure and dynamics that we observe in the European economies matter for policy design. In particular it is widely believed that labour market responses are different, with the structure of labour demand and the nature of the bargain over wages differing between countries. In addition the European economies move at different speeds in response to common shocks. In this paper we construct three different models of Europe, one where the labour market relationships are separately estimated and assumed to be different, one where the most statistically acceptable commonalties are imposed and one where common labour market relationships are imposed across all member countries. We use panel estimation techniques to test for the imposition of commonalties among countries. We find that it is possible to divide Europe into sub-groups, but it is not possible to have one model of European labour markets. We use stochastic simulation techniques on these different models of Europe and find that the preferred rule for the ECB is a combined nominal aggregate and inflation-targeting rule. We find that while this rule is dominant in all our models, the more inertia that is introduced into the labour markets, the more a nominal aggregate-targeting rule alone may be preferred. However, we conclude, that differences in the labour market transmission mechanisms across the European countries appear to have little influence on the setting of monetary policy for the ECB, although this depends on the relative importance of the different components in the welfare loss function.
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