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The Bail-Out! Positive political economics of Greek-type crises in the EMU


  • Christian Fahrholz
  • Cezary Wojcik


The Greek bail-out was highly controversial. An oft-heard assessment is that i) the bail-out was a mistake, ii) the political haggling over it was irrational and iii) the bail-out will create a moral hazard problem. Contrary to this view, our analysis suggests that, given EMU’s present political-economic set-up, i) the bail-out was unavoidable, ii) the lengthy process of political haggling leading to it was understandable, and iii) the bail-out does not have to be necessarily associated with a future moral hazard problem. Based on our analysis, we suggest that the EMU’s institutional design could be improved by establishing ‘exit rules’ and that bail-outs should be made rule-based. We have based our analysis on a politicaleconomic, game-theoretic model that helps to understand why and how the parties involved in the Greek crisis arrived at the bail-out and on what conditions the final solution depended. The model allows tracing analytically the dynamics of the negotiation processes as well as the conditions and parameters on which the scope and limits of fiscal redistribution in EMU depends. In doing so, we formally take account of the ‘negative externality’ problem that has been central to policy debates related to the EMU’s institutional design and has played an important role in the Greek crisis. However, contrary to the existing literature, we do not only focus on the economic aspects of such negative externality, but also look at where they emanate from and interact with political factors, in particular the dynamics of the political negotiation process within the EMU.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Fahrholz & Cezary Wojcik, 2010. "The Bail-Out! Positive political economics of Greek-type crises in the EMU," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 413, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sec:cnstan:0413

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Buti, Marco & Sapir, André, 2006. "Fiscal Policy in Europe: The Past and Future of EMU Rules from the Perspective of Musgrave and Buchanan," CEPR Discussion Papers 5830, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    5. Jonas Fischer & Lars Jonung & Martin Larch, 2007. "101 Proposals to reform the Stability and Growth Pact. Why so many? A Survey," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 267, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
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    7. Albert Jaeger & Ludger Schuknecht, 2007. "Boom-Bust Phases in Asset Prices and Fiscal Policy Behavior," Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(6), pages 45-66, November.
    8. Riccardo Faini, 2006. "Fiscal policy and interest rates in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(47), pages 443-489, July.
    9. Michael D. Bordo & Lars Jonung, 1999. "The Future of EMU: What Does the History of Monetary Unions Tell Us?," NBER Working Papers 7365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elsayyad, May & Konrad, Kai A., 2012. "Fighting multiple tax havens," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 295-305.
    2. Fahrholz, Christian & Wójcik, Cezary, 2013. "The Eurozone needs exit rules," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4665-4674.
    3. Christian Fahrholz & Andreas Freytag, 2011. "Ein Lösungsweg für die europäische Zahlungsbilanzkrise? Mehr Markt wagen!," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(16), pages 73-78, September.
    4. Wolfgang Schäuble & Jürgen Stark & Clemens Fuest & Christian Fahrholz & Michael Eilfort & Verena Mertins, 2011. "EU-Rettungsschirm: Folgt der Einstieg in eine Transferunion?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(03), pages 03-20, February.
    5. Christian Fahrholz & Andreas Freytag, 2012. "A Way to Solve the Euro pean Balance of Payments Crisis? Take a Chance on Market Solutions!," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 13(SPECIALIS), pages 77-82, February.

    More about this item


    Greek crisis; bail-out; negative externality; political economics; game theory; euro; EMU;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General


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