Jean-Charles Bricongne, Alessandro Turrini, 22 June 2017

Since 2011, EU macroeconomic surveillance has aimed at preventing or correcting the type of imbalances that were responsible for the Global Crisis. Surveillance under the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure implies regular reports and policy recommendations monitored by the Commission, and the possible activation of economic sanctions. This column shows that, despite the procedure not having been used to its full extent so far and the sanctions stage not having been reached yet, the surveillance and recommendations have had an impact on policies in the first years of implementation. 

Mélika Ben Salem, Bárbara Castelletti, 15 May 2017

In the aftermath of the Global Crisis, sovereign yield differentials have increasingly widened among European developed countries. Financial markets seem to discriminate among peripheral economies requiring a higher risk premium than is justified by fiscal factors only. This column discusses the causes of this phenomenon. In peripheral countries, it is not due simply to the lack of fiscal discipline, but to a combination of both internal and external imbalances.

Aida Caldera, Mikkel Hermansen, Oliver Röhn, 19 September 2015

The Global Crisis and its high costs have revived interest in early warning indicators of economic risks. This column presents a new set of indicators to detect vulnerabilities and assess country-specific risks of suffering a crisis. The empirical evidence confirms the usefulness of the vulnerability indicators in warning of severe recessions and crises in OECD countries. But indicators are no silver bullet and should be complemented with other monitoring tools, including expert judgement.

Filippo di Mauro, Francesco Pappadà, 02 June 2014

Trade imbalances in the Eurozone require relative price adjustments. This column argues that the traditional ‘elasticity’ approach is lacking when thinking about the adjustment magnitude. Exports adjust when exporting firms sell more (intensive margin) and new firms start exporting (extensive margin). The extensive-margin reaction depends upon the fatness of firm-level productivity distributions. Surplus-country distributions have fatter tails than deficit countries, suggesting that the price adjustment magnitude may be larger than traditional calculations suggest.

Marco Buti, Maria Demertzis, João Nogueira Martins, 30 March 2014

Although progress has been made on resolving the Eurozone crisis – vulnerable countries have reduced their current-account deficits and implemented some reforms – more still needs to be done. This column argues for a ‘consistent trinity’ of policies: structural reforms within countries, more symmetric macroeconomic adjustment across countries, and a banking union for the Eurozone.

Alexandr Hobza, Stefan Zeugner, 26 April 2013

Current-account deficits have caused problems in several Eurozone countries, but surpluses are also an issue. This column argues that surpluses are detrimental to the welfare of the population to the extent they are driven by structural weaknesses affecting demand. Addressing these issues through structural reforms, while letting wages and prices respond flexibly to market signals, would be welfare-enhancing for the surplus countries.

Hans-Werner Sinn, Akos Valentinyi, 09 March 2013

Will addressing large internal imbalances lead us out of the Eurozone crisis? This column argues that it might. Periphery countries should devalue in order to regain competitiveness and reduce imbalances. As to whether they should pursue internal or external devaluation, the answer remains unclear. Overall, given that policymakers have excluded the option of exit, economic policymaking must focus on the possibilities for internal devaluations, despite some of the difficulties it may bring.

Jon Danielsson, 18 February 2011

Financial models are widely blamed for underestimating and thus mispricing risk prior to the crisis. This column analyses how the models failed and questions their prominent use in the post-crisis reform process. It argues that over-relying on market data and statistical forecasting models has the potential to further destabilise the financial system and increase systemic risk.

S. M. Ali Abbas, Jacques Bouhga-Hagbe, Antonio Fatás, Paolo Mauro, Ricardo Velloso, 16 September 2010

What impact will fiscal policy have on current-account imbalances in the years to come? Using data from a large and diverse panel of countries, this column finds that a strengthening in the fiscal balance by 1 percentage point of GDP is, on average, associated with a current-account improvement of 0.2-0.3 percentage points of GDP.

Bernard Hoekman, 30 July 2010

Bernard Hoekman of the World Bank talks to Viv Davies about the Vox eBook on rebalancing the global economy. They discuss why imbalances persist, what can be learned from history and the need for a more collective responsibility in responding to the current problem. Hoekman highlights the importance of supply-side factors as well as the implications of imbalances for developing countries. Regarding the current debate on austerity versus stimulus, Hoekman maintains that the real issue is more about timing and coordination. The interview was recorded in July 2010.

Gilles Saint-Paul, 06 December 2007

Many observers call for US interest rate cuts to avoid a recession, but this is likely to perpetuate the current imbalances in the US economy. The US probably needs a recession to get the required correction in house prices and consumer spending. The Fed should signal its intention to hang tough and start thinking about how big a fall in GDP it will tolerate before intervening.