As a monetary union based on a single currency, the Eurozone is supposed to be immune from problems characteristic to fixed-exchange rate regimes. This column argues that this is not the case. The Eurozone still faces some adjustment problems. It seems unable to generate sufficient growth and inflation to place excessive public debt on a credible reduction path. It does not have a functioning adjustment mechanism to reabsorb existing competitive imbalances. In the long run, the Eurozone should aim to achieve a full integration of labour and capital markets. This is only feasible with budgetary and structural reforms in its member states.
Stefano Micossi, 12 February 2016
Tommaso Monacelli, 12 February 2016
The boom-bust cycle in the Eurozone between 2000 and 2008 is essentially a story of cyclical asymmetries between the Core and the Periphery. While stressing the importance of addressing these asymmetries – especially via fiscal policy – the ECB has failed to take them explicitly into account in its own policy-setting. This essay argues that these asymmetries may persist precisely because they are not a central target of stabilisation policy – both fiscal and monetary.
Giancarlo Corsetti, Matthew Higgins, Paolo Pesenti, 12 February 2016
James Tobin’s classic ‘funnel’ theory questioned how best to calibrate the overall stance of macroeconomic policy in an economic region. This column revisits key questions that emerged out of the EZ crisis through the lens of Tobin’s theory. A key insight is that monetary policy cannot achieve stabilisation objectives without stronger mechanisms for fiscal burden-sharing and risk-pooling. Although short-run solutions are possible under the existing circumstances, long-run stability will require a policy mix that convincingly deals with the issue of fiscal risk-sharing.
André Sapir, 12 February 2016
Misalignments of real exchange rates continue to be the most visible and painful symptom of asymmetric shocks within the Eurozone. An important factor behind such misalignment is the difference in national wage formation and bargaining systems, especially between core and periphery members. This column argues that all members need to have institutions that ensure wage developments are in line with productivity developments. This would eliminate an important source of asymmetric behaviour and reduce resistance to EZ-wide fiscal mechanisms capable of absorbing asymmetric shocks.
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.
Daniel Gros, 12 February 2016
The Eurozone’s ‘Banking Union’ created a system of banking supervision and a common institution to restructure troubled banks. There remain two issues, however, that need to be addressed: banks are holding too much debt of their own sovereign, and deposit insurance is only backstopped at the national level. This column argues that these issues need to be addressed simultaneously for economic and political reasons. Specifically, periphery and core countries hold opposing positions on remedies to the respective problems. A combination of the two makes economic sense and could represent an acceptable political compromise.
Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, 08 April 2016
The euro is unique in that it is a currency without a sovereign. Since the crisis, there have been major developments towards making the Eurozone more resilient, including the banking union and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). This column, originally published 12 February 2016, explores whether further normalisation is required to make the Eurozone function properly. It argues that the Eurozone, unlike existing federations, lacks the ability to deliver counter-cyclical fiscal policies while complying with fiscal discipline. Macroeconomic coordination will thus require rules, a strong and independent European Fiscal Board, and the strengthening of the ESM.
Lars Feld, Christoph 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.
Richard Baldwin, Francesco Giavazzi, 12 February 2016
Important progress has been made in repairing the design faults that the EZ Crisis revealed. This column introduces a new VoxEU eBook which argues that fixing the Eurozone is a job half done. The eBook, which presents 18 chapters by leading economists that hail from a broad range of nations and schools of thought, is surely the most comprehensive collection of solutions that has ever been assembled.
Filippo di Mauro, Arne Nagengast, Robert Stehrer, 29 January 2016
Now that the worst of the Eurozone Crisis has passed, one question that emerges is whether improving current account balances should be an objective for policymakers. And if so, what tools are available? This column argues that because of the emergence of global value chains, trade imbalances within the Eurozone are to a large extent an endogenous result of the international organisation of production at the firm level. It is therefore better to disregard intra-EZ imbalances and focus on the total.
Wouter den Haan, 19 January 2016
Policymakers have employed various new tools in response to the Global Crisis to revitalise economic performance. This column introduces a new eBook that brings together key Vox columns to reveal the evolution of the economic profession’s thinking about one such tool – quantitative easing.
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.
Biagio Bossone, Marco Cattaneo, 04 January 2016
‘Helicopter tax credits’ have been proposed as a means of injecting new purchasing power into the economies of Eurozone Crisis countries. This column outlines one such system for Italy. The Tax Credit Certificate system is projected to accelerate Italy’s recovery over the next four years, and will likely be sustainable. It also provides a tool to avoid the breakup of the Eurosystem and its potentially disruptive consequences.
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.
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.
Kevin Daly, Tim Munday, 28 November 2015
The fallout from the Global Crisis and its aftermath has been deeply damaging for European output. This column uses a growth accounting framework to explore the pre-Crisis and post-Crisis growth dynamics of several European countries. The weakness of post-Crisis real GDP in the Eurozone manifested itself in a decline in employment and average hours worked. However, decomposing growth for the Eurozone as a whole conceals significant differences across European countries, in both real GDP growth and its factor inputs.
Guido Tabellini, 07 September 2015
What are the main lessons to be drawn from the European financial crisis? This column argues that the Eurozone really is at a major cross-roads. Without a common fiscal policy, and without adequate institutions for aggregate demand management, European leaders have to constantly alter the rules. Currency risk will be the major concern of financial markets, much more than in the past, due to how Europe has dealt with the Greek crisis.
Stefano Micossi, 07 September 2015
The sovereign debt and banking crises of 2010-12 have led to significant changes in the institutions of the Eurozone. The credibility of common policies regarding budgetary discipline and economic convergence remains weak. This chapter proposes that the way forward is to gradually bring common economic policies under the oversight of the European Parliament and to strengthen the role of the Commission. The picture must be completed with getting national parliaments more involved in the European policy process. The present state of the Eurozone could be seen as a sort of political equilibrium, likely to be economically unstable.
Philip Lane, 07 September 2015
In the lead up to the global financial crisis, there was a substantial credit boom in advanced economies. In the Eurozone, cross-border flows played an especially important role in the boom-bust cycle. This column examines how the common currency and linkages between member states contributed to the Eurozone crisis. A very strong relationship between pre-crisis levels of external imbalances and macroeconomic performance since 2008 is observed. The findings point to the importance of delinking banks and sovereigns, and the need for macro-financial policies that manage the risks associated with excessive international debt flows.
Paul De Grauwe, 07 September 2015
Economists were early critics of the design of the Eurozone, though many of their warnings went unheeded. This column discusses some fundamental design flaws, and how they have contributed to recent crises. National booms and busts lead to large external imbalances, and without individual lenders of last resort – national central banks – these cycles lead some members to experience liquidity crises that degenerated into solvency crises. One credible solution to these design failures is the formation of a political union, however member states are unlikely to find this appealing.