The turbulence experienced by the Eurozone in 2010-12 highlighted the shortcomings of the currency union. This column suggests that the crisis was exacerbated by a combination of a lack of market adjustment mechanisms, rapid financial integration, and underlying design issues. While substantial progress has been made to address some architectural issues, minimal elements of a fiscal union are still needed in our view to increase the union’s resilience to shocks and to prevent the re-emergence of broader economic and financial stress.
Céline Allard, John C Bluedorn, 22 April 2016
Lars P Feld, Christoph M Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Volker Wieland, 23 March 2016
Economists continue to debate how to safeguard the Eurozone, with some countries exiting the Crisis and some still reeling from it. This column, by members of the German Council of Economic Experts, concludes that reforms have mostly moved the Eurozone in the direction of ‘Maastricht 2.0’, stabilising the Eurozone. But it’s clear that more needs to be done.
Martin Sandbu, 26 March 2016
Was the euro a straitjacket that caused an inevitable crisis? Or would earlier action have staved off a debt catastrophe? In this Vox Talk, Martin Sandbu – author of "Europe’s Orphan: The Future of the Euro and the Politics of Debt" – argues that rather than blaming the euro for the political and economic failures in Europe since the Global Crisis, the responsibility lies firmly on the authorities of the Eurozone and its member countries.
Lars P Feld, Christoph M Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Volker Wieland, 22 March 2016
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. In the midst of a crisis, it is of course very hard to understand causality. This column uses the benefit of hindsight to present a nuanced view of the causes of the Eurozone Crisis as seen by members of the German Council of Economic Experts. To prevent the same crisis happening again, the Maastricht Treaty needs to be revitalised to enhance the future stability of the Eurozone and relieve the ECB of its role as crisis manager.
Steven Ongena, Alexander Popov, Neeltje van Horen, 17 March 2016
The European sovereign debt crisis has triggered speculation that part of the increase in banks’ holdings of domestic sovereign debt was driven by ‘moral suasion’ by governments. This column shows that domestic banks in fiscally stressed countries were considerably more likely than foreign banks to increase their holdings of sovereign bonds in those months when the government had to issue a large amount of new debt. This suggests that governments indeed ‘morally sway’ their banks to purchase domestically issued sovereign bonds when sovereign bond markets are stressed.
Nauro F. Campos, Corrado Macchiarelli, 03 March 2016
There seems to be a robust consensus that the relationship between the countries in the EU that use the euro as their currency (‘euro-ins’) and those that do not (‘euro-outs’) is the most important of the four areas in the ‘new settlement’ between the UK and the EU. This column presents new econometric estimates showing that, after the introduction of the euro, the UK and Eurozone business cycles became significantly more synchronised. It is likely this upsurge in synchronisation increased the costs of a potential UK exit from the EU.
Damiano Sandri, 17 February 2016
How should the international community deal with the solvency crisis of a systemic country? This column argues that the presence of spillovers calls for reducing bail-ins, while requiring somewhat greater fiscal adjustment by the crisis country. To avoid excessive fiscal consolidation, the international community should also provide highly systemic countries with official transfers. To contain moral hazard, it is important to use transfers only when spillovers are particularly severe.
Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 12 February 2016
The Eurozone Crisis has abated but the question about the future of the euro remains on the agenda. This column discusses some of the design failure of the Eurozone and their possible solutions. The Eurozone in its current state is not an optimal currency area and is fragile. Ideally, a stabilisation fund and a budgetary union should be set up. Since this is politically unobtainable right now, small steps should be implemented to create some fiscal space at the level of the Eurozone, and to start with a limited programme of debt consolidation.
Refet S. Gürkaynak, 12 February 2016
Since the beginning of the Global Crisis, the ECB has faced a sequence of problems. This column discusses some of these problems. It also highlights the successful first reaction of the ECB to the crisis and its adequate monetary policies. There are still unresolved structural problems in the Eurozone, however. Among them are the lack of a proper banking union and the need for a better fiscal policy coordination. And the job for such a change within the Eurozone cannot be delegated to the ECB.
Christopher Pissarides, 12 February 2016
There are certain conditions needed to make a common currency across diverse economies a success and the Eurozone is clearly not satisfying them. This column argues that institutions and policies in place six years after the debt crisis have mitigated the risks of another Great Recession. But they have not done enough to alleviate the need for fiscal transfers in the future. We need ever-closer fiscal cooperation, with some caveats.
Thorsten Beck, 25 April 2016
A lot has been achieved in terms of institution building to turn the Eurozone into a sustainable currency union. The Eurozone Crisis, however, has shown that the Eurozone is still not a properly functioning currency union. This column, first posted 12 February 2016, points to three areas of further reform to achieve such a goal. These include the disentanglement of sovereigns and banks, completion of a banking union, and an institutional convergence for a fully integrated financial system.
Lars P Feld, Christoph M Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Volker Wieland, 12 February 2016
Not everybody agrees that the Greek crisis means the EU needs more integration. This column, from the German Council of Economic Experts, argues that for as long as EZ members are unwilling to transfer national sovereignty over economic and financial policy to the European level, all reform proposals must withstand a critical evaluation of the incentives they set for national economic and financial policy. The institutional framework of the single currency area can only ensure stability if it follows the principle of that liability and control must go hand in hand. Those who decide must bear the consequences of their decisions.
Barry Eichengreen, Charles Wyplosz, 14 March 2016
The Eurozone crisis has shown that monetary union entails more than just sharing monetary policies. This column, first published on 12 February 2016, identifies four minimal conditions for solidifying the monetary union. In the case of fiscal policy, this means a decentralised solution. In the case of financial supervision and monetary policy, centralisation is unambiguously the appropriate response. In the case of a fourth condition, debt restructuring, either approach is possible, but the authors prefer a solution that involves centrally restructuring debts while allocating costs at national level.
Dae Woong Kang, Nick Ligthart, Ashoka Mody, 19 January 2016
Although the Great Recession was viewed as a US problem, the Eurozone was affected by it from the start. This column compares the monetary policy responses to the Crisis by the Fed and the ECB. It argues that the US approach has been much more aggressive and proactive. The ECB failed to provide stimulus when needed, and as a result the Eurozone might slip into a low-inflation trap.
Philippe Bacchetta, Ouarda Merrouche, 16 January 2016
Economists now tend to stress the role of global banks in the transmission of the Global Crisis. This column argues that the retrenchment of Eurozone banks opened regulatory arbitrage opportunities for US banks. The fact that US banks, and in particular the most risky US banks, fully exploited these opportunities had a salubrious effect on credit-constrained corporates and employment. It seems the move from Basel I to Basel II with risk-sensitive capital requirements amplifies the credit cycle.
Daiji Kawaguchi, Ayako Kondo, 13 January 2016
Economists frequently discuss the ‘scarring effects’ the Great Recession has had on young people in Europe. This column tentatively challenges the received wisdom of permanent scarring. Young graduates mitigate some of the negative welfare effects of graduating during bad times by living with their parents for longer.
Ángel Ubide, 09 December 2015
The diversity of European economic cycles, economic structures, and political dynamics is a strength of the Eurozone. However, sustainable arrangements are required to distribute risks and ensure that all countries can use fiscal policy to cushion economic downturns. This column proposes the creation of a system of stability bonds for the Eurozone. These could be structured to minimise moral hazard, improve governance, and ensure that fiscal policy can support growth during the next recession.
Alessandro Cugnasca, Philipp Rother, 05 December 2015
The size of fiscal multipliers has been the subject of major public policy debates in the past few years. This column provides evidence that, on average, the size of the fiscal multiplier is in line with assumptions made by policymakers at the start of the crisis. The effects of fiscal consolidation, however, vary significantly depending on the state of the economy and the composition of the fiscal adjustment.
Jörg Decressin, Prakash Loungani, 02 December 2015
Internal devaluations have been suggested as a possible policy option for countries in a currency union facing large external deficits. These policy actions seek to restore competitiveness by replicating the outcomes of an external devaluation. This column examines wage moderation as a potential means of internal devaluation for EZ countries. If pursued by several countries, wage moderation can work if monetary policy is not constrained by the zero lower bound, or if supported by quantitative easing. Without sufficient monetary accommodation, it will not deliver much of a boost to output, and may hurt overall EZ output.
Jan Mohlmann, Wim Suyker, 01 December 2015
Olivier Blanchard and Daniel Leigh’s work on growth forecast errors and fiscal multipliers in 2009-2011 has been highly influential. This column extends their approach to recent years. The authors do not find convincing evidence for stronger-than-expected fiscal multipliers for EU countries during the sovereign debt crisis (2012-2013) or during the tepid recovery thereafter.