The wisdom of structural reform during a crisis is a subject of heated debate. This column compares Greece’s experience to that of Mexico during the debt crisis of the 1980s. Mexico did not receive a haircut until seven years into the crisis – after structural reform was already underway. In Mexico that reform was the outcome of an internal conversation – not a diktat from the outside – and it happened during the height of the crisis.
Carlos Cantú, KeyYong Park, Aaron Tornell, Sunday, April 12, 2015
Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Yannis Psycharis, Vassilis Tselios, Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Electoral results and the geographical allocation of public investment in Greece have been intimately related. This column describes how incumbent Greek governments between 1975 and 2009 tended to reward those constituencies returning them to office. Increases in both the absolute and relative electoral returns for the party in government in a given Greek region were traditionally repaid with a greater level of per capita investment in that region. Single-member constituencies were the greatest beneficiaries of this type of pork-barrel politics.
Lars P Feld, Christoph M Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Benjamin Weigert, Volker Wieland, Friday, February 20, 2015
Claims that ‘austerity has failed’ are popular, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world. This column argues that this narrative is factually wrong and ignores the reasons underlying the Greek crisis. The worst move for Greece would be to return to its old ways. Greece needs to realise that things could actually become much worse than they are now, particularly if membership in the Eurozone cannot be assured. Instead of looking back, Greece needs to continue building a functioning state and a functioning market economy.
Athanasios O. Tagkalakis, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Greece is currently implementing a fiscal adjustment programme aimed at tackling tax evasion. This column discusses the impact of recent tax administration reforms on tax compliance in Greece. The intensification of audits, enforcement of penalties, and efficient collection of past debts can induce tax compliance and raise the collected revenue. These findings could contribute to the successful conclusion of the fiscal consolidation programme.
Peter Allen, Barry Eichengreen, Gary Evans, Friday, February 28, 2014
Greece needs debt reduction. This column argues that instead of offering another lengthening of maturities and reduction in interest rates, Eurozone leaders should seize the occasion and implement debt-for-equity swaps that would encourage foreign investment, speed privatisation and jumpstart the Greek economy.
Francesco Pappadà, Yanos Zylberberg, Monday, February 3, 2014
Greece’s austerity package included an unprecedented increase in the VAT rate, but the resulting increase in revenue was much lower than expected. This column links this disappointing result to the ‘transparency response’ of firms to higher tax rates. In countries like Greece with poor tax monitoring, firms face a tradeoff when deciding whether to declare their activity. Transparency is a necessary condition for accessing external finance, but it also means having to pay tax. Improving credit conditions for small and medium-size Greek firms might shift this tradeoff in favour of transparency.
Paolo Manasse, Friday, January 31, 2014
Sales of state-owned assets have been proposed as a way for highly-indebted countries to ease the pain of fiscal consolidation. This column argues that, despite the potential merits of privatisation in terms of long-run efficiency, in practice it is unlikely to improve short-run fiscal solvency. Since governments rarely alienate control rights, the efficiency gains from privatisations are often small. Moreover, financial markets may not fully reflect these gains – particularly during a financial crisis. The implication is that the Troika policy of linking financial assistance to privatisations is inappropriate and self-defeating.
Aerdt Houben, Jan Kakes, Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Financial cycles have increasingly diverged across members of the Eurozone. National macroprudential tools are thus key to managing financial imbalances and protecting Europe’s economic integration. This column discusses research suggesting that reasonable macroprudential policies by the GIIPS countries in the euro’s first decade would have helped avoid much pain in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Greece’s public debt problems were far too large and its banks could not have been shielded with macroprudential policies.
Giovanni D'Alessio, Romina Gambacorta, Giuseppe Ilardi, Friday, May 24, 2013
The ECB’s recent survey on household finances and consumption threw up some unexpected results – counter-intuitively, the average German household has less wealth than the average Mediterranean household. In line with a recent VoxEU.org contribution from De Grauwe and Ji, this article analyses the principal differences in wealth and income between the main Eurozone countries.
Thomas Grennes, Andris Strazds, Thursday, February 28, 2013
Can European countries share their debts? This column argues that higher government indebtedness means larger household net financial assets. Thus, any pooling of European legacy debt would be considered unacceptable by countries with less government debt unless it also involved the pooling of households’ financial assets. Yet, this would be legally and technically insurmountable. The EU must face forced Ricardian equivalence: the countries with the largest legacy-debt burdens must reduce them by increasing the tax burden or, alternatively, reduce their budget expenditure.
Jens Nordvig, Monday, December 17, 2012
Fears of an imminent Greek exit from the Eurozone have subsided, for now. This column attempts to measure the probability of a Greek exit, finding that the changing fortunes of Greek political parties, and the possibility of an early election, mean that the risk of a Greek exit may actually be quite high. It suggests that, despite investors' efforts to measure political risk, a persistent sense of unease about the Eurozone’s future is set to continue into 2013 and that Eurozone financial assets will thus continue to embed significant risk premiums in the coming years.
Vicky Pryce, Friday, December 7, 2012
Vicky Pryce talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about her book, "Greekonomics: The euro crisis and why politicians don’t get it". They discuss the flaws in the original conception of the single currency, Greece’s dire recent economic experiences and how Greek and European policymakers have responded to the crisis. The interview was recorded at the Bristol Festival of Economics in late November 2012.
Alan J Auerbach, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Monday, December 10, 2012
It's tough out there for policymakers seeking to stabilise economies, and shocks from abroad aren't helping. This column argues that for countries hit by recession, fiscal stimulus in another country might significantly stimulate demand back at home, softening the worse effects of the current crisis. The evidence suggests that transnational coordination of fiscal policy may well be more valuable than previously thought.
Stefano Scalera, Riccardo Pacini, Friday, December 7, 2012
What mechanisms are necessary for the euro to survive? This column argues that recently proposed EU policy might have the answer. Having adopted a roadmap for enhanced economic policy coordination, a growth facility and a framework for enhanced debt issuance, the EU might now stave off the threat of Eurozone breakup. However, the road ahead will certainly be tough, the first crucial stumbling block being the design of a European Redemption Fund.
Marco Buti, Alessandro Turrini, Monday, November 12, 2012
Why aren’t Eurozone imbalances adjusting? This column argues that there is heartening evidence that they are. Labour markets are beginning to be reformed across Europe, thereby increasing countries’ competitiveness. However, the road ahead will surely long and hard; for external adjustment to really work, it is crucial that financial markets start to take a lead supportive role.
Jens Nordvig, Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Conversations about the breakup of the Eurozone are changing. This column argues that an 'avoid breakup at all costs' dogmatism may not be a prudent view. Getting good data may well be difficult, but any arguments about the cost of a Eurozone breakup must be compared to the ongoing cost of the status quo.
Zsolt Darvas, Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The need to rebalance the debts of several Eurozone members is a major root of the current crisis. This column argues that a purely intra-euro rebalancing strategy has its limits and that a weaker euro would help. It urges the European Central Bank to adopt looser monetary policy, which is anyway justified in a highly recessionary environment.
Uri Dadush, Zaahira Wyne, Shimelse Ali, Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The US and the Eurozone are slowly recovering after the bursting of their huge housing bubbles. Yet the hardest-hit states in the US have adjusted more rapidly than the most troubled European economies. This column examines differences between the US and Eurozone monetary unions that can help explain why.
Maurizio Bovi, Monday, July 23, 2012
Is the crisis ‘decoupling’ the Greeks from Greece? Using EU survey data, this column shows that before the global crisis, Greeks’s assements of their own economic stance was in line with that of their country as a whole. But during the recent crisis years most Greeks thought they were doing better than average. This column explains this puzzle using insights from psychology.
Tito Boeri, Friday, July 20, 2012
Solving the EZ crisis will almost certainly involve some financial transfers in exchange for some loss of sovereignty. This column suggests a guiding principle for which policies should be under EZ control. Transfers of authority to supranational bodies must make a no-further-bailout clause credible.