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The Euro Debt Crisis and Germany's Euro Trilemma

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  • Jorg Bibow

Abstract

This paper investigates the causes behind the euro debt crisis, particularly Germany's role in it. It is argued that the crisis is not primarily a "sovereign debt crisis" but rather a (twin) banking and balance of payments crisis. Intra-area competitiveness and current account imbalances, and the corresponding debt flows that such imbalances give rise to, are at the heart of the matter, and they ultimately go back to competitive wage deflation on Germany's part since the late 1990s. Germany broke the golden rule of a monetary union: commitment to a common inflation rate. As a result, the country faces a trilemma of its own making and must make a critical choice, since it cannot have it all--perpetual export surpluses, a no transfer / no bailout monetary union, and a "clean," independent central bank. Misdiagnosis and the wrongly prescribed medication of austerity have made the situation worse by adding a growth crisis to the potpourri of internal stresses that threaten the euro's survival. The crisis in Euroland poses a global "too big to fail" threat, and presents a moral hazard of perhaps unprecedented scale to the global community.

Suggested Citation

  • Jorg Bibow, 2012. "The Euro Debt Crisis and Germany's Euro Trilemma," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_721, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_721
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Naohiko Baba & Robert N McCauley & Srichander Ramaswamy, 2009. "US dollar money market funds and non-US banks," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, March.
    2. Claudio Borio & Piti Disyatat, 2011. "Global imbalances and the financial crisis: Link or no link?," BIS Working Papers 346, Bank for International Settlements.
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    Cited by:

    1. Petre Caraiani, 2016. "Business Cycle Accounting for Peripheral European Economies," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 63(5), pages 468-496, November.
    2. Alberto Alonso & Vanesa Guzmán, 2014. "Monetary Union Viability: A Criterion Proposal," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 717-750, November.
    3. Storm, Servaas & Naastepad, C.W.M., 2015. "Crisis and recovery in the German economy: The real lessons," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 11-24.
    4. Servaas Storm & C.W.M. Naastepad, 2015. "NAIRU economics and the Eurozone crisis," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(6), pages 843-877, November.
    5. Nina Dodig & Hansjörg Herr, 2015. "Current Account Imbalances in the EMU: An Assessment of Official Policy Responses," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 62(2), pages 193-216, June.
    6. Gaetano Perone, 2017. "Produttività del lavoro, dinamica salariale e squilibri commerciali nei Paesi dell’Eurozona: un’analisi empirica," Working Papers 0028, ASTRIL - Associazione Studi e Ricerche Interdisciplinari sul Lavoro.
    7. Alberto Botta, 2014. "Structural asymmetries at the roots of the eurozone crisis: what's new for industrial policy in the EU?," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 67(269), pages 169-216.
    8. Robert N. McCauley & Guonan Ma, 2013. "Global and Euro Imbalances: China and Germany," SUERF 50th Anniversary Volume Chapters, SUERF - The European Money and Finance Forum.
    9. Servaas Storm & C.W.M. Naastepad, "undated". "Crisis and Recovery in the German Economy: The Real Lessons," Working Papers Series 10, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
    10. repec:kap:empiri:v:45:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10663-016-9365-z is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Euro; Monetary Union; Banking Crisis; Balance-of-Payments Crisis; Sovereign Debt Crisis; Competitiveness Imbalances; Fiscal Transfers; Bailouts; Austerity;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises

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