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Saving Europe's Automatic Stabilizers

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  • Barry Eichengreen.

Abstract

European policymakers have repeatedly suggested that fiscal-policy coordination and fiscal federalism will play key roles in Europe's monetary union. This paper warns that this hope is misplaced. Fiscal federalism will not be available to offset recessionary shocks for the foreseeable future. The effects of coordination designed to internalise the cross-border spillovers of fiscal policies are too weak. Freeing up fiscal policy to replace national governments' loss of monetary independence requires allowing European countries' automatic stabilisers to operate. That in turn requires a flexible application of the Excessive Deficit Procedure and the Stability Pact. The solution suggested here is that the Excessive Deficit Procedure and any fines and sanctions associated with the Stability Pact be applied to the constant-employment budget balance, not the actual deficit. Applying them to actual deficits when European countries enter EMU up against the 3 per cent limit will render fiscal policy strongly procyclical, aggravating the problem of macroeconomic fragility created by the loss of monetary autonomy. Still, countries like Germany haunted by the spectre of fiscal pro fligacy need to be reassured that member states will not abuse their fiscal discretion. Procedural and institutional reform to offset the deficit bias in national political systems is the obvious quid pro quo.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Eichengreen., 1996. "Saving Europe's Automatic Stabilizers," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C96-082, University of California at Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucb:calbcd:c96-082
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eichengreen, Barry, 1990. "Is Europe an Optimum Currency Area?," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt40m5g6pp, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    2. Tamim Bayoumi & Barry Eichengreen, 1995. "Restraining Yourself: The Implications of Fiscal Rules for Economic Stabilization," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 32-48, March.
    3. Buiter, W.H. & Corsetti, G. & Roubini, N., 1992. "Excessive Deficits: Sense and Nonsence in the Treaty of Maastricht," Papers 674, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    4. von Hagen, Jurgen & Hammond, George W, 1998. "Regional Insurance against Asymmetric Shocks: An Empirical Study for the European Community," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 66(3), pages 331-353, June.
    5. Melitz, Jacques & Vori, Silvia, 1992. "National Insurance Against Unevenly Distributed Shocks in a European Monetary Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 697, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. repec:crs:wpaper:9219 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Arne Heise, 2014. "Zwangsjacke Euro. Die Fehlkonstruktion des Europäischen Economic Governance-Systems," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 40(1), pages 17-31.
    2. AILINCA, Alina Georgeta, 2014. "Automatic Social Stabilizers What They Are And How They Function," Studii Financiare (Financial Studies), Centre of Financial and Monetary Research "Victor Slavescu", vol. 18(3), pages 45-57.
    3. William Mitchell, 2015. "Eurozone Dystopia," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 16478.
    4. Jorg Bibow, 2003. "On the 'burden' of German unification," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 56(225), pages 137-169.
    5. Jorg Bibow, 2001. "Making EMU Work: Some lessons from the 1990s," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 233-259.
    6. Michael J. Artis & Marco Buti, 2000. "'Close-to-Balance or in Surplus': A Policy-Maker's Guide to the Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(4), pages 563-591, November.
    7. William Mitchell, 2016. "Eurozone Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale," World Economic Review, World Economics Association, vol. 2016(7), pages 43-55, July.
    8. Jörg Bibow, 2001. "On the 'Burden' of German Unification: The Economic Consequences of Messrs. Waigel and Tietmeyer," Macroeconomics 0106004, EconWPA.
    9. Jorg Bibow, 2003. "On the 'burden' of German unification," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 56(225), pages 137-169.
    10. Nazaré Costa Cabral, 2016. "Which Budgetary Union for the E(M)U?," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(6), pages 1280-1295, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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