A popular explanation for the sovereign debt crisis in Europe is self-fulfilling sentiments. What can central banks do to avoid self-fulfilling debt crises? This column argues that while in theory there are policies to make the public debt sustainable, central banks cannot credibly commit to them. The ability of a central bank to avert a self-fulfilling debt crisis is thus limited.
Philippe Bacchetta, Elena Perazzi, Eric van Wincoop, Saturday, June 20, 2015
Juan Dolado, Monday, February 9, 2015
Youth unemployment has been a problem in Europe for several decades, but some European countries have fared much better than others in recent years. This column summarises the policy lessons to be drawn from a new VoxEU.org eBook that compares the labour market experiences of different European countries and provides an early evaluation of the European Commission’s Youth Guarantee scheme.
Brent Glover, Seth Richards-Shubik, Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Understanding the probability and magnitude of financial contagion is essential for policymaking. This column applies a framework for modelling financial contagion to data on the cross-holding and credit risk of sovereign debt in Europe. Credit markets perceived little risk of contagion from these spillovers following a sovereign default. It is important for policy to assess other possible channels for contagion that could generate even bigger losses.
Carmen M Reinhart, Christoph Trebesch, Tuesday, October 21, 2014
To work towards resolving Europe’s ongoing debt crisis this column looks to the past. From the recent emerging market debt crisis (1980s-2000s) and the interwar episode of the 1920s-1930s we learn that debt write-downs and defaults are able to be postponed but not prevented. Punishment for default is temporary, sometimes followed by a renewed surge in borrowing that leads to another crisis.
Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang, Thursday, June 26, 2014
Like banks, indebted governments can be vulnerable to self-fulfilling financial crises. This column applies this insight to the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, and explains why the ECB’s Outright Monetary Transactions policy reduced sovereign bond spreads in the Eurozone.
Casper van Ewijk, Jasper Lukkezen, Hugo Rojas-Romagosa, Thursday, November 28, 2013
The sustainability of government debt cannot be determined with certainty. This column presents an early warning indicator to predict sovereign debt crises using a stochastic simulation framework. What counts is the risk of a significant rise in public debt, more so than the expected evolution of the debt level. A key determinant of the indicator is the quality of budgetary policies in controlling the government budget in the event of adverse shocks.
Lee C. Buchheit , Beatrice Weder di Mauro, Anna Gelpern, Mitu Gulati, Ugo Panizza, Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Sovereign bankruptcies occur regularly and violently. The nature of sovereign-debt problems has changed in comparison to ten years ago. This column discusses policy proposals to better resolve debt crises and prevent them from happening in the future. Such proposals are given both for the Eurozone, and at a global level.
Jon Danielsson, Hermann Oskarsson, Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The current EZ crisis is not Europe’s first sovereign-debt crisis. This column shows parallels can be drawn from an all-but-forgotten episode, i.e. the 1990 Faroese crisis. Just like Greece, the Faroes got into difficulty because of excess borrowing facilitated by a currency union with an AAA-rated partner undeterred as the sovereign debt spiralled upwards. In the Faroese case, the crisis was eventually resolved when political necessities outweighed the cost of the bailout.
Nicola Borri, Gianfranco di Vaio, Giuseppe Ragusa, Saturday, February 4, 2012
Will Italy be able cut its debt and abide by the new EU fiscal rules? This column presents a simulation of the evolution of the Italian debt-to-GDP ratio. It finds that Italy’s borrowing and saving plans are sustainable – even at today’s high interest rates.
Thorsten Beck, Tuesday, October 25, 2011
For better or worse, banking is back in the headlines. From the desperate efforts of crisis-struck Eurozone governments to the Occupy Wall Street movement currently spreading across the globe, the future of banking is hotly debated. This VoxEU.org eBook presents a collection of essays by leading European and American economists that discuss both immediate solutions to the on-going financial crisis and medium- to long-term regulatory reforms.
Guillermo de la Dehesa, Thursday, October 20, 2011
Time is running out for EU leaders to put an end to the Eurozone crisis. This column explains how leaders could find a definitive solution to Greece insolvency, isolate solvent countries from possible Greek contagion, improve EU governance by creating a true European parliament, and refocus on a pro-growth policy mix.
Richard Baldwin, Monday, September 5, 2011
The Eurozone crisis moved into phase 2 this August when the contagion spread to Italian debt, Spanish debt, and most EZ banks. Radical ECB actions prevented a disaster. This column argues that the ECB emergency policies are unsustainable politically and perhaps legally. The only policy combination that EZ leaders could agree on quickly enough involves political cover for ECB bond buying in exchange for national fiscal reforms of the German “debt brake” type.
Fabio Panetta, Michael Davies, Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Sovereign credit risk has emerged as the main challenge to global financial stability. This column explains how a deterioration in sovereign creditworthiness can damage bank funding conditions before discussing possible options for mitigating these effects. It argues that banks can only do so much and that the policymakers have a critical role.
Avinash Persaud, Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Eurozone crisis is not over. This column argues that solving it requires a voluntary debt swap. Creditors should be invited to swap old Greek bonds for new bonds backed by the European and IMF package. Par values would be the same but the coupons would be lower and the maturities doubled. The exact parameters should be set so the value of the greater certainty of payout was offset by the lower coupons. This would strengthen the euro, facilitate recovery of the $145 billion pledged, and yet force private creditors to realise that Eurozone support is not a one-way bet.
Charles Wyplosz, Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Markets liked the European Stabilisation Mechanism but a closer look shows that the money is announced but not available. When markets realise this, they may do to Portugal and Spain what they did to Greece. Worse still, crucial principles have been sacrificed for the sake of unconvincing announcements. The debt crisis is unlikely to go away and the monetary union will have to be reconstructed to re-establish the principle of collective fiscal discipline.
Michael Burda, Stefan Gerlach, Tuesday, May 11, 2010
This weekend’s plan has been received positively by the markets, but it is too early to call it a success. Future monetary historians may judge it either a brilliant move or the first step on a slippery slope to ruin. The EU needs to set up an independent institution to vet fiscal plans of Eurozone governments and apply a sliding scale of sanctions. If the euro is to survive the current decade, Greece cannot happen again.
Daniel Gros, Thomas Mayer, Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The European Stabilisation Mechanism is a major initiative, but is it enough? This column argues that more is needed. All EU bank supervisors should conduct stress tests to gauge their banks’ exposure to risky sovereign debt; those who fail should be re-capitalised or closed to ring-fence the problem. The ‘Mechanism’ should also be transformed into an institution that manages the Eurozone’s rescue contributions, supervises conditionality, and sets up mechanisms for orderly debt rescheduling should austerity programmes fail.
Giancarlo Corsetti, Sunday, May 9, 2010
Eurozone membership seemed to shield economies with structural problems from the “original sin” – the obligation to borrow in foreign currency while the ability to pay is in domestic currency. This column argues that the sin is still with Greece and other Eurozone nations with weak institutions. Reforms that boost the nation’s competitiveness or the government’s fiscal positions reduce short-term government revenue directly or via a recession. Solving the problem will require coordinated Eurozone intervention to correct internal imbalances
Barry Eichengreen, Friday, May 7, 2010
EU and IMF efforts to rescue Greece have failed to stabilise Europe's financial markets. Now there are significant concerns about Spain and Portugal's financial circumstances. This column says Europe needs to wake up, face the facts, and take action. It outlines what the IMF, ECB, and Eurozone members need to do to prevent the crisis from spreading. It may be too late for Greece, but it is not too late for Europe.
Domingo Cavallo, Joaquín Cottani, Friday, May 7, 2010
Greek debt woes could spark contagion within and beyond Europe. Argentina’s former finance minister and co-author draw four lessons from Argentina’s crisis: devaluation/exit is not the answer; orderly debt restructuring involving a ‘Brady Plan’ now is better than a disorderly one later; fiscal consolidation that improves external competitiveness is a must; all these must be done simultaneously