The United Kingdom on the eve of elections: The economy, David Cameron’s trump card (1/2)

By Catherine Mathieu

In the countdown to the general elections on 7 May 2015, there is so much suspense that the bookmakers are putting the Conservative Party as winners and Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, as the next Prime Minister! Not only are the Labour Party and the Conservative Party running neck-and-neck in the polls, but with voting intentions fluctuating between 30 and 35% for many months now, neither party seems poised to secure a sufficient majority to govern alone. David Cameron, current PM and leader of the Tories, has placed the British economy at the heart of the election campaign. And the figures do seem rather flattering for the outgoing government with regard to growth, employment, unemployment, public deficit reduction, etc., though there are some less visible weaknesses in the UK economy. Continue reading “The United Kingdom on the eve of elections: The economy, David Cameron’s trump card (1/2)”

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The Greek debt – a European story …

By Catherine Mathieu and  Henri Sterdyniak

At end 2014, Greece’s debt was 317 billion euros, or 176% of its GDP, up from 103% in 2007, despite debt relief of 107 billion in 2012[1]. This debt is the result of a triple blindness, on the part of: the financial markets, which lent to Greece until 2009, heedless of the unsustainable level of its public deficit (6.7% of GDP in 2007) and its trade deficit (10.4% of GDP in 2007); the Greek government and ruling elite who, thanks to the low interest rates permitted by its membership in the euro zone, allowed unbalanced growth, based on financial and real estate bubbles, corruption, poor governance, fraud and tax evasion; and Europe’s institutions, which after the laxism of 2001-2007, imposed crushing, humiliating austerity programmes on the country, with the oversight of the troika, a strange threesome consisting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission (EC). Continue reading “The Greek debt – a European story …”

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Towards a better governance in the EU?

By Catherine Mathieu and Henri Sterdyniak

The 10th EUROFRAME Conference on economic policy issues in the European Union was held on 24 May 2013 in Warsaw on the topic, “Towards a better governance in the EU?” Revised versions of twelve of the papers presented at the Conference are included in issue 132 of the “Debates and Policies” collection of the Revue de l’OFCE entitled “Towards a better governance in the EU?“. The papers are organized around four themes: fiscal governance, analysis of fiscal policy, bank governance, and macroeconomic issues. Continue reading “Towards a better governance in the EU?”

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Renewed growth in the United Kingdom in 2013: trompe-l’oeil effects

By Catherine Mathieu

The latest estimate of the British national accounts, published on 27 November, confirmed GDP growth of 0.8% in the third quarter of 2013, following 0.7% in the second quarter and 0.4% in the first quarter. This represents a sparkling performance for the UK economy, especially in comparison with the euro zone. GDP was up 1.5% year on year in the third quarter of 2013 in the UK, against -0.4% in the euro zone, 0.2% in France and 0.6% in Germany. In the eyes of some observers, Britain’s return to growth shows that fiscal austerity does not undermine growth … on the contrary. But the argument seems at a minimum questionable. Continue reading “Renewed growth in the United Kingdom in 2013: trompe-l’oeil effects”

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Competitiveness: danger zone!

By Céline Antonin, Christophe Blot, Sabine Le Bayon and Catherine Mathieu

The crisis affecting the euro zone is the result of macroeconomic and financial imbalances that developed during the 2000s. The European economies that have provoked doubt about the sustainability of their public finances (Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy [1]) are those that ran up the highest current account deficits before the crisis and that saw sharp deteriorations in competitiveness between 2000 and 2007. Over that same period Germany gained competitiveness and built up growing surpluses, to such an extent that it has become a model to be emulated across the euro zone, and especially in the countries of southern Europe. Continue reading “Competitiveness: danger zone!”

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Is the euro crisis over?

By Catherine Mathieu and Henri Sterdyniak

As of early 2013, it is possible to make two contrasting assessments of the crisis. On the one hand, the euro has survived. Europe’s institutions and Member states have of course been slow and hesitant to react, and their reluctance has often fueled speculation. But its institutions have gradually managed to develop solidarity mechanisms, such as the European Financial Stability Facility and then the European Stability Mechanism, and they were able to impose strong fiscal discipline on Member states (strengthening the Stability and Growth Pact, adjustment programs, fiscal treaty). Continue reading “Is the euro crisis over?”

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The euro zone in crisis

By Catherine Mathieu and Henri Sterdyniak

The 9th EUROFRAME Conference [1], which was held in Kiel on 8 June 2012, focused on economic policy issues in the European Union. The topic was “The euro zone in crisis: Challenges for monetary and fiscal policies”. Issue 127 of the “Débats et Politiques” collection of the OFCE Revue has published revised versions of twelve papers presented in the Conference[2], gathered in five themes: exchange rate imbalances, indicators of the debt crisis, budget rules, banking and financial issues, and strategies for resolving the crisis. Continue reading “The euro zone in crisis”

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Has monetary policy become ineffective?

By Christophe Blot, Catherine Mathieu and Christine Rifflart

This text summarizes the special study of the October 2012 forecast.

Since the summer of 2007, the central banks of the industrialized countries have intervened regularly to counter the negative impact of the financial crisis on the functioning of the banking and financial system and to help kick-start growth. Initially, key interest rates were lowered considerably, and then maintained at a level close to 0 [1]. In a second phase, from the beginning of 2009, the central banks implemented what are called unconventional measures. While these policies may differ from one central bank to another, they all result in an increase in the size of their balance sheets as well as a change in the composition of their balance sheet assets. However, three years after the economies in the United States, the euro zone and the United Kingdom hit bottom, it is clear that recovery is still a ways off, with unemployment at a high level everywhere. In Europe, a new recession is threatening [2]. Does this call into question the effectiveness of monetary policy and of unconventional measures more specifically? Continue reading “Has monetary policy become ineffective?”

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