Shocks, unemployment and adjustment – the limits of the European union

By Christophe Blot

In an article published in 2013 in Open Economies Review [1], C. A. E. Goodhart and D. J. Lee compare the mechanisms for recovering from the crisis in the United States and Europe. Based on a comparison of the situation of three states (Arizona, Spain and Latvia) faced with a property crash and recession, the authors explore the reasons for the growing divergence observed among the euro zone countries, a divergence that is not found in the United States. Their analysis is based on the criteria for optimum currency areas, which enable the members of a monetary union to adjust to adverse shocks and to avoid a lasting difference in their unemployment rates during an economic slowdown or downturn. While Latvia is not formally part of a monetary union [2], its currency nevertheless has remained firmly anchored to the euro during the crisis. Thus none of the countries studied by Goodhart and Lee resorted to a nominal devaluation to absorb the financial and real shocks that they faced. The authors conclude that while Arizona dealt with the shocks better than Spain, this was due both to the greater fiscal solidarity that exists between the states of the United States and to the greater integration of the US banking system, which helps to absorb shocks specific to each state. Continue reading “Shocks, unemployment and adjustment – the limits of the European union”

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