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The Euro Crisis and the Job Guarantee: A Proposal for Ireland

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  • L. Randall Wray

Abstract

Euroland is in a crisis that is slowly but surely spreading from one periphery country to another; it will eventually reach the center. The blame is mostly heaped upon supposedly profligate consumption by Mediterraneans. But that surely cannot apply to Ireland and Iceland. In both cases, these nations adopted the neoliberal attitude toward banks that was pushed by policymakers in Europe and America, with disastrous results. The banks blew up in a speculative fever and then expected their governments to absorb all the losses. The situation was similar in the United States, but in our case the debts were in dollars and our sovereign currency issuer simply spent, lent, and guaranteed 29 trillion dollars' worth of bad bank decisions. Even in our case it was a huge mistake—but it was "affordable." Ireland and Iceland were not so lucky, as their bank debts were in "foreign" currencies. By this I mean that even though Irish bank debt was in euros, the Government of Ireland had given up its own currency in favor of what is essentially a foreign currency-the euro, which is issued by the European Central Bank (ECB). Every euro issued in Ireland is ultimately convertible, one to one, to an ECB euro. There is neither the possibility of depreciating the Irish euro nor the possibility of creating ECB euros as necessary to meet demands for clearing. Ireland is in a situation similar to that of Argentina a decade ago, when it adopted a currency board based on the US dollar. And yet the authorities demand more austerity, to further reduce growth rates. As both Ireland and Greece have found out, austerity does not mean reduced budget deficits, because tax revenues fall faster than spending can be cut. Indeed, as I write this, Athens has exploded in riots. Is there an alternative path? In this piece I argue that there is. First, I quickly summarize the financial foibles of Iceland and Ireland. I will then-also quickly-summarize the case for debt relief or default. Then I will present a program of direct job creation that could put Ireland on the path to recovery. Understanding the financial problems and solutions puts the jobs program proposal in the proper perspective: a full implementation of a job guarantee cannot occur within the current financial arrangements. Still, something can be done.

Suggested Citation

  • L. Randall Wray, 2012. "The Euro Crisis and the Job Guarantee: A Proposal for Ireland," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_707, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_707
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephanie Bell & L. Randall Wray, "undated". "The War on Poverty After 40 Years: A Minskyan Assessment," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_78, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. Hayo, Bernd, 1999. "Knowledge and Attitude Towards European Monetary Union," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, pages 641-651.
    3. L. Randall Wray, 1998. "Modern Money," Macroeconomics 9810002, EconWPA.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Euro Crisis; Financial Crisis in Ireland; Employer of Last Resort; Job Guarantee; Bank Bailout; Irish Debt Crisis; Government Debt Crisis; Minsky;

    JEL classification:

    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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