Mr. Helge Berger, Mr. Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, and Mr. Maurice Obstfeld
The paper makes an analytical contribution to the revived discussion about the euro area’s institutional setup. After significant progress during the euro crisis, the drive to complete Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) had stalled, and the way forward will benefit from an in-depth look at the conceptual issues raised by the evolution and architecture of Europe, and the tradeoffs involved. A thorough look at the underlying economic issues suggests that in the long run, EMU will benefit from progressing along three mutually supporting tracks: introduce more fiscal risk sharing, helping to make the sovereign “no bailout” rule credible; complementary financial sector reforms to delink sovereigns and banks; and more effective rules to discourage moral hazard. This evolution would ensure that financial markets provide incentives for fiscal discipline. Introducing more fiscal union comes with myriad legal, technical, operational, and political problems, raising questions well beyond the remit of economics. But without decisive progress to foster fiscal risk sharing, EMU will continue to face existential risks.
There have been numerous books examining the 2008 financial crisis from either a U.S. or European perspective. Tamim Bayoumi is the first to explain how the Euro crisis and U.S. housing crash were, in fact, parasitically intertwined.
Starting in the 1980s, Bayoumi outlines the cumulative policy errors that undermined the stability of both the European and U.S. financial sectors, highlighting the catalytic role played by European mega banks that exploited lax regulation to expand into the U.S. market and financed unsustainable bubbles on both continents. U.S. banks increasingly sold sub-par loans to under-regulated European and U.S. shadow banks and, when the bubbles burst, the losses whipsawed back to the core of the European banking system. A much-needed, fresh look at the origins of the crisis, Bayoumi’s analysis concludes that policy makers are ignorant of what still needs to be done both to complete the cleanup and to prevent future crises.
This paper revisits the issue of cross-country spillovers from fiscal consolidations using an innovative empirical methodology. We find evidence in support of fiscal spillovers in 10 euro area countries. Fiscal consolidation in one country not only reduces domestic output (direct effect), but also the output of other member countries (indirect/spillover effect). Fiscal spillovers are larger for: (i) more closely located and economically integrated countries, and (ii) fiscal shocks originating from relatively larger countries. On average, 1 percent of GDP fiscal consolidation in 10 euro area countries reduces the combined output by 0.6 percent on impact, out of which half is driven by indirect effects from fiscal spillovers. The impact peters out and becomes insignificant over the medium-term. It is largely driven by tax measures, which have a relatively stronger effect on output compared to expenditure measures. The results are robust to alternative measures of bilateral links across countries.
Once upon a time, in the 1990s, it was widely agreed that neither Europe nor the United
States was an optimum currency area, although moderating this concern was the finding that
it was possible to distinguish a regional core and periphery (Bayoumi and Eichengreen,
1993). Revisiting these issues, we find that the United States is remains closer to an optimum
currency area than the Euro Area. More intriguingly, the Euro Area shows striking changes
in correlations and responses which we interpret as reflecting hysteresis with a financial
twist, in which the financial system causes aggregate supply and demand shocks to reinforce
each other. An implication is that the Euro Area needs vigorous, coordinated regulation of its
banking and financial systems by a single supervisor—that monetary union without banking
union will not work.
Angana Banerji, Ms. Bergljot B Barkbu, Mr. James A John, Mr. Tidiane Kinda, Mr. Sergejs Saksonovs, Hanni Schoelermann, and Mr. Tao Wu
The momentum for structural reforms is waning in the euro area at a time when even faster progress is needed to boost productivity and growth, achieve real economic convergence, and improve the resilience of the monetary union. What can the European Union (EU) institutions do to bridge this divide? This paper argues for greater simplicity, transparency and accountability in the EU governance framework for structural reforms. Our three interrelated proposals—“outcome-based” benchmarking; better use of existing EU processes to strengthen oversight and reduce discretion; and improved financial incentives—could help advance reforms. Ex post monitoring by an independent EU-level “structural council” and ex ante policy innovation by national productivity councils could strengthen accountability and ownership. Deeper governance reforms should be considered in the medium-term with a view toward a greater EU role in promoting convergence.
The 2012 Article IV Consultation report on euro area policies highlights that investors are withholding funding from member states most in need, moving capital “north” and abroad to perceived safer assets. Executive Directors have noted that the euro area continues to face a number of economic challenges amid increasing financial stresses and market fragmentation. Directors have also stressed that it is important that policymakers continue to demonstrate shared and unequivocal commitment—with a clear, credible roadmap—to a deeper integration of the euro area.
This paper provides a framework for evaluating the decision to enter a currency area, including the best timing for entry, and uses it to evaluate the assessment of the five tests for euro entry published by the U.K. Treasury in June 2003. The breadth and depth of its assessment is impressive by any standard. Nonetheless, this paper points at some areas that deserve to be explored further in future assessments. Covering these areas would not necessarily have changed the assessment's conclusion, namely that the case for entry is not yet "clear and unambiguous,." but it would have strengthened any conclusion reached. In addition, the paper highlights that in several areas relevant to the entry decision, the margin for uncertainty will remain significant, regardless of any reasonable attempt to reduce it.
This Selected Issues paper of Portugal highlights the discussions on the requirement of policies to overcome structural and cyclical impediments to growth, and secure fiscal consolidation. It analyzes the strength of the company balance sheets in supporting the rebound from recession, and also the links between corporate balance sheet strength and investment. It reviews the challenges in the Portuguese economy, the impact of European Union enlargement on Portuguese trade, the pension prospects, and the implications of various policy reform scenarios.