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Coordination and Crisis in Monetary Unions

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  • Mark Aguiar
  • Manuel Amador
  • Emmanuel Farhi
  • Gita Gopinath

Abstract

We characterize fiscal and monetary policy in a monetary union with the potential for rollover crises in sovereign debt markets. Member-country fiscal authorities lack commitment to repay their debt and choose fiscal policy independently. A common monetary authority chooses inflation for the union, also without commitment. We first describe the existence of a fiscal externality that arises in the presence of limited commitment and leads countries to over borrow; this externality rationalizes the imposition of debt ceilings in a monetary union. We then investigate the impact of the composition of debt in a monetary union, that is the fraction of high-debt versus low-debt members, on the occurrence of self-fulfilling debt crises. We demonstrate that a high-debt country may be less vulnerable to crises and have higher welfare when it belongs to a union with an intermediate mix of high- and low-debt members, than one where all other members are low-debt. This contrasts with the conventional wisdom that all countries should prefer a union with low-debt members, as such a union can credibly deliver low inflation. These findings shed new light on the criteria for an optimal currency area in the presence of rollover crises.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Aguiar & Manuel Amador & Emmanuel Farhi & Gita Gopinath, 2014. "Coordination and Crisis in Monetary Unions," NBER Working Papers 20277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20277
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    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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