IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Why a Breakup of the Euro Area Must Be Avoided: Lessons from Previous Breakups

  • Anders Aslund


    (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

One of the big questions of our time is whether the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) will survive. Too often, analysts discuss a possible departure of one or several countries from the euro area as little more than a devaluation, but Åslund argues that any country’s exit from the euro area would be a far greater event with potentially odious consequences. A Greek exit would not be merely a devaluation for Greece but would unleash a domino effect of international bank runs and disrupt the EMU payments mechanism, which would lead to a serious, presumably mortal, disintegration of the EMU. It would inflict immense harm not only on Greece but also on other countries in the European Union and the world at large. When a monetary union with huge uncleared balances is broken up, the international payments mechanism within the union breaks up, impeding all economic interaction. Åslund’s critical argument for a domino effect is that the EMU already has large uncleared interbank balances in its so-called Target2 system. Exit of any country is likely to break this centralized EMU payments mechanism. These rising uncleared balances are a serious concern because nobody can know how they will be treated if the EMU broke up. Any attempt to cap them would risk disruption of the EMU. These balances need to be resolved but in a fashion that safeguards the integrity of the EMU. However, this can hardly be done by anything less than fully securing the sustainability of the EMU. If the euro area does break up, Åslund says, the damage will vary greatly depending on the policies pursued. On the basis of prior dissolutions of currency zones, such as the ruble zone in 1992/1993, he suggests that an amicable, fast, and coordinated end of the EMU would minimize the harm.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Policy Briefs with number PB12-20.

in new window

Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iie:pbrief:pb12-20
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1750 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036-1903
Phone: 202-328-9000
Fax: 202-659-3225
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Marek Dabrowski, 2012. "The need for contingency planning: potential scenarios of Eurozone disintegration," CASE Network E-briefs 11, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
  2. Hans-Werner Sinn & Timo Wollmershaeuser, 2011. "Target Loans, Current Account Balances and Capital Flows: The ECB's Rescue Facility," NBER Working Papers 17626, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Domenico Mario Nuti, 1996. "Inflation, interest and exchange rates in the transition 1," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 4(1), pages 137-158, 05.
  4. Rudiger Dornbusch, 1992. "Monetary problems of post-communism: Lessons from the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 391-424, September.
  5. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Kenneth A. Froot & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1994. "Introduction to "The Transition in Eastern Europe, Volume 1"," NBER Chapters, in: The Transition in Eastern Europe, Volume 1, pages 1-18 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521516730 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Olivier Blanchard & Kenneth Froot & Jeffrey Sachs, 1994. "The Transition in Eastern Europe, Volume 2: Restructuring," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number blan94-3, July.
  8. Anders Aslund & Valdis Dombrovskis, 2011. "How Latvia Came through the Financial Crisis," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 6024.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521731867 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Kenneth A. Froot & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1994. "The Transition in Eastern Europe, Volume 1," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number blan94-2, July.
  11. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8973.
  12. C. Fred Bergsten & Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, 2012. "The Coming Resolution of the European Crisis," Policy Briefs PB12-1, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iie:pbrief:pb12-20. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peterson Institute webmaster)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.