Since 2007, there has been a buildup of TARGET imbalances within the Eurosystem – growing liabilities of national central banks in the periphery matched by growing claims of central banks in the core. This column argues that, rather than signalling the collapse of the monetary system – as was the case for Bretton Woods between 1968 and 1971 – these TARGET imbalances represent a successful institutional innovation that prevented a repeat of the US payments crisis of 1933.
Michael Bordo, 21 March 2014
Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 02 November 2012
A systemic Eurozone breakup would be the mother of all financial crises. This column – a rejoinder to Hans-Werner Sinn’s recent column – agrees that Germany would lose massively from a breakup, but argues that the ultimate source is the €600 billion current account surpluses it ran with other EZ nations during the good years, not the TARGET2 system. German banks lent vast amounts to peripheral countries without doing a proper credit analysis. No one other than Germany itself is responsible for taking on these risks.
Hans-Werner Sinn, 22 October 2012
Evaluation of the financial costs of a Eurozone breakup depends critically on the interpretation of the balances central banks hold in the EZ payment system. This column, which replies to the interpretation by De Grauwe and Ji, argues that TARGET balances represent real wealth that would be lost in a breakup.
Sebastian Dullien, Mark Schieritz, 07 May 2012
The Eurozone debt crisis has led to increasing imbalances among Europe’s central banks, the causes and consequences of which are the subject of fierce debate. But this column argues that the discussions are missing a fundamental point – the extent to which the German financial sector and German savers benefit from this arrangement.
Ossi Leppänen, 18 April 2012
Since the start of the crisis the Eurosystem balance sheet has grown from €1200 billion in June 2007 to around €2900 billion in March 2012. But this is spread unevenly among different central banks within the Eurozone, raising the thorny issue of intra-area (TARGET) balances. This column argues that these balances signal a need for change and restructuring in the Eurozone banking sector.
Ashoka Mody, Fabian Bornhorst, 07 March 2012
While the fall in Germany’s current-account surplus may have alleviated the Eurozone’s imbalances, another problem has arisen. This column argues that German exporters and banks are no longer Europe’s financiers but Germany is instead now filling this financing gap through so-called TARGET claims – the system for central bank settlements within the Eurosystem. At stake is not just academic curiosity but the financial architecture of the Eurozone.
Aaron Tornell, Frank Westermann, 06 December 2011
If you thought the Eurozone crisis was coming to an end this week, this column argues that we may barely be reaching the end of Act One.
Clemens Jobst, 19 July 2011
The debate over TARGET balances and whether there is an ongoing stealth bailout in the Eurozone has attracted attention from top economists and journalists in the past month. This column argues that the reason why the arguments keep dragging on is the lack of a clear framework for the discussion, something this column aims to provide.