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Versailles Redux? Eurozone Competitiveness in a Dynamic Balassa-Samuelson-Penn Framework

Author

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  • Kevin Stahler

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

  • Arvind Subramanian

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)

Abstract

Prima facie, competitiveness adjustments in the eurozone, based on unit labor cost developments, appear sensible and in line with what the economic analyst might have predicted and the economic doctor might have ordered. But a broader and arguably better--Balassa-Samuelson-Penn (BSP)--framework for analyzing these adjustments paints a very different picture. Taking advantage of the newly released PPP-based estimates of the International Comparison Program (2011), we identify a causal BSP relationship. We apply this framework to computing more appropriate measures of real competitiveness changes in Europe and other advanced economies in the aftermath of the recent global crises. There has been a deterioration, not improvement, in competitiveness in the periphery countries between 2007 and 2013. Second, the pattern of adjustment within the eurozone has been dramatically perverse, with Germany having improved competitiveness by 9 percent and with Greece's having deteriorated by 9 percent. Third, real competitiveness changes are strongly correlated with nominal exchange rate changes, which suggests the importance of having a flexible (and preferably independent) currency for effecting external adjustments. Fourth, internal devaluation--defined as real competitiveness improvements in excess of nominal exchange rate changes--is possible but seems limited in scope and magnitude. Our results are robust to adjusting the BSP framework to take account of the special circumstances of countries experiencing unemployment. Even if we ignore the BSP effect, the broad pattern of limited and lopsided adjustment in the eurozone remains.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Stahler & Arvind Subramanian, 2014. "Versailles Redux? Eurozone Competitiveness in a Dynamic Balassa-Samuelson-Penn Framework," Working Paper Series WP14-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp14-10
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Campbell, Douglas L., 2016. "Measurement matters: Productivity-adjusted weighted average relative price indices," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 45-81.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Eurozone; Competitiveness; Exchange Rates; Monetary Unions;

    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission

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