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Maastricht and the Choice of Exchange Rate Regime in Transition Countries during the Run-Up to EMU

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  • György Szapáry

    (National Bank of Hungary)

Abstract

This paper raises some specific issues concerning the choice of exchange rate regime in transition countries during the run-up to EU/EMU membership. It argues that there is no "one-size-fits-all" exchange rate regime that accession countries should uniformly adopt. It also argues that the Maastricht criterion on inflation is inconsistent with the catching-up process because of the Balassa-Samuelson effect and that this inconsistency will encourage a "weighing-in" syndrome: like the boxer who refrains from eating for hours prior to the weigh-in only to consume a big meal once the weigh-in is over, the candidate country will maintain very tight monetary policy and resort to all sorts of techniques (freezing of administered prices, lowering of consumption taxes, etc.) to squeeze down inflation prior to accession only to shift back gears after it has joined the EMU. Indeed, the convergence of short-term interest rates to EMU levels that will come with accession will automatically mean a loosening of monetary policy after the country has become a member of the monetary union. That loosening will be reinforced if the country had previously allowed its exchange rate to appreciate against the euro. The result of this stop-go cycle is that the efficiency of economic management will suffer. It would be better to recognize the principle of the Balassa-Samuelson effect explicitly in the Maastricht criteria by giving more room for maneuver than the one provided by the present rule. The paper makes suggestions on how the Maastricht criterion on inflation could be adjusted and discusses their merits. It concludes that a reasonable compromise would be to define the permissible inflation deviation in reference to the average inflation rate of the euro zone, not the three EU members with the lowest inflation rate.

Suggested Citation

  • György Szapáry, 2001. "Maastricht and the Choice of Exchange Rate Regime in Transition Countries during the Run-Up to EMU," Economics Working Papers 006, European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes.
  • Handle: RePEc:epr:enepwp:006
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    Cited by:

    1. Karsten Staehr, 2008. "The Maastricht Inflation Criterion and the New EU Members from Central and Eastern Europe," Bank of Estonia Working Papers 2008-04, Bank of Estonia, revised 30 Oct 2008.
    2. Julda Kielyte, 2002. "Exchange rate arrangements in the run-up to the EMU: some experience in currency board countries," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2002_01, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
    3. Christian Fahrholz, 2003. "Strategic Exchange-Rate Policy of Accession Countries in ERM II," Eastward Enlargement of the Euro-zone Working Papers wp14, Free University Berlin, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, revised 01 Apr 2003.
    4. Fabrizio Iacone & Renzo Orsi, 2002. "Exchange Rate Management and Inflation Targeting in the CEE Accession Countries," Eastward Enlargement of the Euro-zone Working Papers wp08, Free University Berlin, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, revised 01 Aug 2002.

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