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The Aftermath of the 1992 ERM Breakup: Was There a Macroeconomic Free Lunch?

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  • Robert J. Gordon

Abstract

This paper examines the macroeconomic aftermath of the 1992 breakdown of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The economic performance of six leaver' nations is compared with five stayer' nations that maintained a roughly fixed parity with the Deutsche Mark. Recent writing about post-1992, which I call the conventional wisdom,' reports that a surprising miracle occurred the leaver nations are alleged to have enjoyed a burst of real growth and a decline in unemployment, all without any evidence of extra inflation. The results in this paper turn the conventional wisdom on its head. While the leaver nations experienced an acceleration of nominal GDP growth relative to the stayers, fully 80 percent of this spilled over into extra inflation, leaving only 20 percent remaining for extra real GDP growth. Virtually 100 percent of the nominal exchange rate depreciation passed through into higher import prices, and extra inflation would have been even more pronounced if it were not for quiescent wage rates, which the paper attributes to high unemployment. The absence of any significant stimulus to real output growth is attributed to fiscal tightening under pressure from the Maastricht criteria, which offset nearly all of the stimulus coming from the improved current account of the leaver nations.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Gordon, 1999. "The Aftermath of the 1992 ERM Breakup: Was There a Macroeconomic Free Lunch?," NBER Working Papers 6964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6964
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    1. Robert J. Gordon, 1997. "The Time-Varying NAIRU and Its Implications for Economic Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 11-32, Winter.
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    4. McKinnon, Ronald I, 1997. "EMU as a Device for Collective Fiscal Retrenchment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 227-229, May.
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    1. repec:onb:oenbwp:y::i:68:b:1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Barry Eichengreen, 2000. "Solving the Currency Conundrum," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 29(3), pages 315-339, November.
    3. W. Wascher & Palle S. Andersen, 1999. "Sacrifice ratios and the conduct of monetary policy in conditions of low inflation," BIS Working Papers 82, Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Kim, Yoonbai & Ying, Yung-Hsiang, 2007. "An empirical assessment of currency devaluation in East Asian countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 265-283, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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