As the Eurozone cautiously implements stabilising reforms, Germany is forced to go further with concessions than it would prefer. This column suggests that it would be beneficial for discontented members to consider the formation of a second monetary union. The second euro can be constructed better than the first, bringing the discontented members exchange-rate adjustments relative to Germany, and avoiding competitive devaluations.
One basic feature of the sickly situation in the Eurozone today is that the system does not clearly bear any essential flaw from the standpoint of Germany. All things considered, the country has not done badly since the Great Recession of 2008-2010. And as the Eurozone moves forward gingerly with necessary reforms in order to avoid a break-up of the system, it is evident that Germany is constantly under pressure to go further with concessions than it would prefer.
Saving the euro: self-fulfilling crisis and the ‘Draghi put’
Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang26 June 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.
The CEPR Business Cycle Dating Committee recently concluded that there is not yet enough evidence to call a business cycle trough in the Eurozone. Instead, the committee has announced a 'prolonged pause' in the recession. This Vox Talk discusses the possible directions that this situation could lead to and questions whether the Great Recession has harmed the Eurozone’s long-term growth prospects to the extent that meagre growth could become the 'new normal'.
The simplest business cycle dating algorithm declares recessions over after two consecutive quarters of positive GDP growth. By that metric, the Eurozone recession has been over since 2013Q1. This column argues that growth and improvements in the labour market have been so anaemic that it is too early to call the end of the Eurozone recession. Indeed, if this is what an expansion looks like, then the state of the Eurozone economy might be even worse than economists feared.
The CEPR Business Cycle Dating Committee met on 11 June 2014 to determine whether the Eurozone is out of the recession that started after 2011Q3. The duty of the Committee – comprised of Philippe Weil (Chair), Domenico Giannone, Refet Gürkaynak, Monika Merz, Richard Portes, Lucrezia Reichlin, Albrecht Ritschl, Barbara Rossi, and Karl Whelan – is to date peaks and troughs of the Eurozone business cycle, marking recessions and expansions – a role similar to that of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee in the US.
Lacklustre investment in the Eurozone: Is there a puzzle?
Marco Buti, Philipp Mohl04 June 2014
Investment in the Eurozone is forecast to remain below trend until 2015, with a particularly large shortfall in the periphery. Low investment reduces aggregate demand, thus lowering short-term growth, and it also hampers medium-term growth through its effect on the capital stock. This column highlights three causes of low Eurozone investment – reduced public investment, financial fragmentation, and heightened uncertainty – and proposes a series of remedies.
On the importance of investment for the Eurozone economy
According to the European Commission’s most recent forecast, real economic activity in the Eurozone is expected to recover at a moderate pace until 2015, and to remain significantly weaker than in the US (European Commission 2014a).
Eurozone external adjustment and real exchange rate movements: The role of firm productivity distribution
Filippo di Mauro, Francesco Pappadà02 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.
Giancarlo Corsetti, Philippe Martin, Paolo Pesenti
A corollary of the Eurozone crisis has been an unusually large current-account surplus for the Eurozone as a whole, resulting from a combination of strong external demand and rapid readjustment of external accounts in the Eurozone countries that had previously accumulated large imbalances.
Paolo Manasse, Tommaso Nannicini, Alessandro Saia24 May 2014
The euro’s impact on southern EZ members is a key topic in national and European debates. This column argues that the economic evidence is twisted to fit preconceptions. It presents evidence based on the ‘synthetic control’ approach, finding that the euro raised trade, lowered interest rates and inflation, but had a small negative impact on per capita incomes.
A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of the euro. In the wake of the European elections of 25 May, the debate on the pros and cons of the euro – in Italy and throughout the Eurozone – are dominated by partisan politics. The empirical evidence is often distorted to suit one’s need.
As banks repay their loans from the Long-Term Refinancing Operation, the ECB’s balance sheet is shrinking. This column argues that, given the slow recovery and sustained low inflation, the ECB should replace its bank lending programme with quantitative easing. Buying short-term government debt would be consistent with the ECB’s inflation target, would keep the ECB’s monetary policy separate from its role in bank supervision, and would create a built-in exit strategy from unconventional policy.
Europe’s modest economic recovery and uncomfortably low inflation put the ECB in a bind. Although economic conditions are improving gradually (European Commission 2014), concerns about the potentially negative impacts of deflation persist (Armstrong et al. 2014). The ECB’s top near-term priorities are to avoid deflation (and apparently even sustained low inflation) and extend the economic recovery.
How the euro changed the pattern of international debt flows
Galina Hale, Maurice Obstfeld15 May 2014
Large flows of bank lending from core countries in the Eurozone to the periphery lead to large financial imbalances. This column explains what motivated such financial flows. With the advent of the Eurozone, banks in core countries gained relative advantage in lending to the periphery, making such lending very attractive. They also served as intermediaries for financial flows from outside the Eurozone to the periphery. Now – five years since the start of the euro crisis – Eurozone financial markets remain segmented.
Internal financial imbalances within the Eurozone were central to the development of the European debt crisis. They resulted in a concentration of European periphery risks on the balance sheets of banks located in core Eurozone countries (Lane 2012, Rey 2012, Shin 2012). They also promoted larger intra-Eurozone current-account deficits and a sharp fall in peripheral bond yields, accompanied by a loss of competitiveness of the peripheral economies, most strikingly relative to Germany (Chen et al. 2013, Shambaugh 2012).
The increasing competitiveness of the southern Eurozone
Raphael Auer11 April 2014
Some view the improvements in current accounts for Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain as short-lived – the result of a temporary compression of import demand that is likely to be reversed as the recession eases. This column argues the contrary, based on the fact that their improving trade balances reflect better export performance. This development points toward a fundamental stabilisation of the competitiveness of these economies.
Current-account (CA) rebalancing is a necessary step for the Southern EZ countries to overcome their debt and external balance of payments crises.1 Figure 1 documents the impressive speed and magnitude of the southern EZ’s CA rebalancing.