Europe's nations and regions

William R. Cline, 24 August 2015

Economists continue to debate whether – and to what extent – Greek debts should be relieved. This column takes through the details of Greek debt, what relief options are open to Greece, and what the likely consequences of relief might be for all parties. Yet again, there are no easy choices – but that doesn’t mean economists and policymakers shouldn’t try.

Florencio Lopez de Silanes, Joseph McCahery, Dirk Schoenmaker, Dragana Stanišić, 21 August 2015

While small and medium-sized enterprises are important for economic growth and employment, we have little insight in their financing needs. Using a novel methodology, this column presents new research that estimates the gap between demand and supply of financing in several European countries. We find that the financing gap is three to five times larger than that of US SMEs. Initiatives under the Capital Markets Union umbrella can help to reduce this financing gap.

Antonio Acconcia, Giancarlo Corsetti, Saverio Simonelli, 14 August 2015

Fiscal transfers are successful in stimulating aggregate demand to the extent that they reach households with a high marginal propensity to consume. Using micro evidence from Italian earthquakes, this column argues that a well-designed programme of temporary transfers, targeted to relatively wealthy but possibly illiquid households, can be quite helpful in speeding up recovery.

Jon Danielsson, 13 August 2015

The Greek and the Icelandic crisis have much in common, not the least the heavy pressure from foreign countries and the hectoring from their public officials. In Iceland and in Greece this was counterproductive, hardening the opposition to any settlement. The will to reform needs to come from within, and the sooner the Troika realizes this, the easier it will be to deal with the Greek situation.

Timothy W. Guinnane, 13 August 2015

Greece’s crisis has invited comparisons to the 1953 London Debt Agreement, which ended a long period of German default on external debt. This column suggests that looking back, the 1953 agreement was unnecessarily generous given that Germany’s rapid growth lightened the debt repayment burden. Unfortunately for Greece, the motivations driving the 1953 agreement are nearly entirely absent today.

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