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Crises and Policy Responses within the Political Trilemma: Europe, 1929-1936 and 2008-2011

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  • Nikolaus Wolf

    () (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, CEPR and CESifo)

Abstract

The recent debate on the Eurozone failed to appreciate a particular characteristic of European crisis experiences, namely their fundamentally political character. To make my argument, I borrow from Dani Rodrik (2000) the framework of a “political trilemma” between cross-border economic integration, national institutions and democracy (in the sense of mass politics) and discuss its relation to the more commonly known “macroeconomic trilemma” as well as some limitations of the framework. The recent experience of a European debt crisis and the experience of Europe’s Great Depression can be interpreted as a “political trilemma”: both reflect the problem of designing effective policy responses to major economic shocks within the environment of deep economic integration across political boundaries and the regime choices that this involves. Within this framework I highlight some aspects of the 1930s that are informative to the policy choices in Europe today. Once we accept that some policy choices should be avoided, attention should be shifted to the remaining options and the obstacles that prevent their implementation, notably the challenge to transform democracy beyond national borders.

Suggested Citation

  • Nikolaus Wolf, 2012. "Crises and Policy Responses within the Political Trilemma: Europe, 1929-1936 and 2008-2011," Working Papers 0016, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  • Handle: RePEc:hes:wpaper:0016
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    File URL: http://ehes.org/EHES_No16.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wolf, Nikolaus, 2008. "Scylla and Charybdis. Explaining Europe's exit from gold, January 1928-December 1936," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 383-401, September.
    2. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2000. "Fixing for Your Life," NBER Working Papers 8006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "Fear of Floating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 379-408.
    4. Ritschl Albrecht, 2003. "Hat das Dritte Reich wirklich eine ordentliche Beschäftigungspolitik betrieben?," Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, De Gruyter, vol. 44(1), pages 125-140, June.
    5. Sicsic, Pierre, 1992. "Was the franc poincare deliberately undervalued?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 69-92, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Uebele, Martin & Pfister, Ulrich & Riedel, Jana, 2012. "Real wages and the origins of modern economic growth in Germany, 16th to 19th centuries," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62076, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Comín, Francisco, 2012. "Default, rescheduling and inflation : debt crisis in Spain during the 19th and 20th centuries," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp12-06, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    political trilemma; great depression; euro-crisis;

    JEL classification:

    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • F50 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - General
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-

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