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Monetary union, price level convergence, and inflation: how close is Europe to the United States?

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  • John H. Rogers

Abstract

In light of 50 years of economic policies designed to integrate Europe -- culminating in the elimination of euro zone national currencies in early 2002 -- and a vast academic literature on international economic integration, it is of interest to assess how far European integration has come in practice. Using a unique data set, I document the pattern of price dispersion across European and U.S. cities from 1990 to 2001. I find a striking decline in dispersion for traded goods prices in Europe, most of which took place between 1991 and 1994. The level of traded goods price dispersion in the euro area is now quite close to that of the United States. A decline in dispersion of non-tradeables prices in Europe has also taken place, but to a smaller extent. For U.S. cities, there is no evidence of a decline in price dispersion, even for tradeables. I examine several possible explanations for the decline in European price dispersion, including harmonization of tax rates, convergence of incomes and labor costs, liberalization of trade and factor markets, and increased coherence of monetary policy. I also investigate how much of the variation in national inflation rates in Europe can be explained by price level convergence. Finally, after showing that prices in likely next-round entrants into the euro zone are well below prices in Western Europe, I discuss the potential inflationary consequences of accession into monetary union for Eastern Europe.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Rogers, 2002. "Monetary union, price level convergence, and inflation: how close is Europe to the United States?," International Finance Discussion Papers 740, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:740
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    Cited by:

    1. Camba-Méndez, Gonzalo & Garcí­a, Juan Angel & Rodriguez-Palenzuela, Diego, 2003. "Relevant economic issues concerning the optimal rate of inflation," Working Paper Series 278, European Central Bank.
    2. Philipp Maier, 2005. "A global village without borders? international price differentials at eBay," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Salvador Gil-Pareja & Simon Sosvilla-Rivero, 2007. "Price convergence in the European car market," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(2), pages 241-250.
    4. Javier Andrés & Eva Ortega & Javier Vallés, 2003. "Market structure and inflation differentials in the European Monetary Union," Working Papers 0301, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    5. Carlos J. Rodriguez-Fuentes & Antonio Olivera-Herrera & David Padron-Marrero, 2004. "Monetary policy and inflation persistence in the Eurozone," ERSA conference papers ersa04p218, European Regional Science Association.
    6. Goldberg, Pinelopi K. & Verboven, Frank, 2005. "Market integration and convergence to the Law of One Price: evidence from the European car market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 49-73, January.
    7. Emmanuel Dhyne & Luis J. Álvarez & Hervé Le Bihan & Giovanni Veronese & Daniel Dias & Johannes Hoffmann & Nicole Jonker & Patrick Lünnemann & Fabio Rumler & Jouko Vilmunen, 2005. "Price setting in the euro area: Some stylized facts from Individual Consumer Price Data," Working Paper Research 74, National Bank of Belgium.
    8. Riemer P. Faber & Ad C.J. Stokman, 2005. "Price Convergence in Europe from a Macro Perspective: Product Categories and Reliability," DNB Working Papers 034, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    9. Faia, Ester & Campolmi, Alessia, 2006. "Cyclical inflation divergence and different labor market institutions in the EMU," Working Paper Series 619, European Central Bank.
    10. Thomas Y. Matha, 2006. "The Euro and Regional Price Differences of Individual Products in an Integrated Cross-Border Area," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44, pages 563-580, September.
    11. Ashoka Mody & Franziska L Ohnsorge, 2007. "Can Domestic Policies Influence Inflation?," IMF Working Papers 07/257, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Ester Faia & Alessia Campolmi, 2005. "Inflation Differentials and Different Labor Market Institutions in the EMU," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2005 80, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    13. Alberto Montagnoli & Andros Gregoriou & Alexandros Kontonikas, 2007. "Euro Area Inflation Differentials: Unit Roots, Structural Breaks and Non-Linear Adjustment," Working Papers 2007_13, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    14. PIROVANO, Mara & VAN POECK, André, 2011. "Eurozone inflation differentials and the ECB," Working Papers 2011014, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
    15. Michael Ferrantino, 2006. "Quantifying the Trade and Economic Effects of Non-Tariff Measures," OECD Trade Policy Papers 28, OECD Publishing.
    16. Fabio M. Natalucci & Federico Ravenna, 2002. "The road to adopting the euro: monetary policy and exchange rate regimes in EU candidate countries," International Finance Discussion Papers 741, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. Christian Volpe Martincus & Antoni Estevadeordal, 2009. "Trade Policy and Specialization," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 9289, Inter-American Development Bank.
    18. VAN POECK, André, 2009. "One money and fifteen needs inflation and output convergence in the European Monetary Union," Working Papers 2009001, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
    19. Riemer P. Faber & Ad C.J. Stokman, 2004. "Price convergence in Europe from a macro perspective: Trends and determinants (1960-2003)," DNB Working Papers 012, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    20. Thomas Mathä, 2003. "What to expect of the euro? Analysing price differences of individual products in Luxembourg and its surrounding regions," BCL working papers 8, Central Bank of Luxembourg.

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    Keywords

    Monetary unions ; Inflation (Finance);

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