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Credibility, Debt and Unemployment: Ireland's Failed Stabilization


  • Rudiger Dornbusch


Can the credibility of a stabilization plan affect the output costs of disinflation? The new classical economics has asserted this possibility, but little evidence has been brought forward. This paper analyzes the stabilization program of Ireland in the l980s against the background of the new classical economics, The main questions are two: Did EMS membership yield a special credibility bonus? And is the stabilization program sustainable. The answer to both questions is negative. The idea of a credibility bonus Is an attractive potential policy implication of EMS membership: by joining the EMS, playing by the rules of fixed exchange rates and benefiting from the stabilizing influence of German inflation targets, a country's policy makers achieve a dramatic turn around in expectations, in inflation and in long-term interest rates. But the evidence on international disinflation in the 1980s shows that it was not limited to EMS members; all OECD countries experienced sharply reduced inflation and a large drop in long-term nominal interest rates, EMS membership did not contribute to reduce the sacrifice ratio of disinflation. In fact Germany, on whose anti-inflation credentials the credibility effects are supposedly based has one of the highest sacrifice ratios among DECD countries. Ireland did reduce inflation to the German level, but a serious public debt problem has emerged and the unemployment rate stands near 20 percent. This raises questions of the Sargent-Wallace kind about the sustainability of the program.

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  • Rudiger Dornbusch, 1988. "Credibility, Debt and Unemployment: Ireland's Failed Stabilization," NBER Working Papers 2785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2785
    Note: EFG ITI IFM

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sargent, Thomas J, 1973. "Interest Rates and Prices in the Long Run: A Study of the Gibson Paradox," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 5(1), pages 385-449, Part II F.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "Money and the Price Level under the Gold Standard," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(353), pages 13-33, March.
    3. Barsky, Robert B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Gibson's Paradox and the Gold Standard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 528-550, June.
    4. McCallum, Bennett T., 1984. "On low-frequency estimates of long-run relationships in macroeconomics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 3-14, July.
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    1. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley, 1993. "Moderate Inflation," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 7(1), pages 1-44, January.
    2. Mourmouras, Iannis A. & Su, Dou-Ming, 1995. "Central bank independence, policy reforms and the credibility of public debt stabilizations," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 189-204, March.
    3. Goldberg, Linda S & Kolstad, Charles D, 1995. "Foreign Direct Investment, Exchange Rate Variability and Demand Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(4), pages 855-873, November.
    4. António Afonso, 2001. "Non-Keynesian Effects of Fiscal Policy in the EU-15," Working Papers Department of Economics 2001/07, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    5. Hjelm, Göran & Johansson, Martin W, 2002. "Structural Change in Fiscal Policy and The Permanence of Fiscal Contractions - The Case of Denmark and Ireland," Working Papers 2002:11, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    6. Bradley, John & Whelan, Karl, 1997. "The Irish expansionary fiscal contraction: A tale from one small European economy," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 175-201, April.
    7. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustments in OECD Countries: Composition and Macroeconomic Effects," NBER Working Papers 5730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. McAleese, Dermot & McCarthy, F. Desmond, 1989. "Adjustment and external shocks in Ireland," Policy Research Working Paper Series 262, The World Bank.
    9. Francisco Ledesma-Rodriguez & Manuel Navarro-Ibanez & Jorge Perez-Rodriguez & Simon Sosvilla-Rivero, 2000. "On the Credibility of the Irish Pound in the EMS," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 31(2), pages 151-172.
    10. Sarah Box, "undated". "The Irish Economy: Lessons for New Zealand?," Treasury Working Paper Series 98/01, New Zealand Treasury.
    11. Kapopoulos, Panayotis, 1995. "Disinflation and credibility in small open European economies in the 1980s: Parties, elections and the ERM," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 157-170, March.
    12. Perotti, Roberto, 1998. " The Political Economy of Fiscal Consolidations," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 367-394, March.
    13. Bertrand Blancheton, 2004. "French exchange rate management in the mid-1920s: lessons drawn from new evidence," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2003 6, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    14. Paul Grauwe, 1990. "The cost of disinflation and the European Monetary System," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 147-173, June.
    15. Hjelm, Goran, 2002. "Is private consumption growth higher (lower) during periods of fiscal contractions (expansions)?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 17-39, March.
    16. Julia Darby & V. Anton Muscatelli & Graeme Roy, 2005. "Fiscal consolidation and decentralisation: a tale of two tiers," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 26(2), pages 169-195, June.
    17. Knot, Klaas & de Haan, Jakob, 1995. "Interest rate differentials and exchange rate policies in Austria, The Netherlands, and Belgium," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 363-386, May.

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