The euro is 20 – time to grow up

By Jérôme Creel and Francesco Saraceno [1]

At age twenty, the euro has gone through a difficult adolescence. The success of the euro has not been aided by a series of problems: growing divergences; austerity policies with their real costs; the refusal in the centre to adopt expansionary policies to accompany austerity in the periphery countries, which would have minimized austerity’s negative impact, while supporting activity in the euro zone as a whole; and finally, the belated recognition of the need for intervention through a quantitative easing monetary policy that was adopted much later in Europe than in other major countries; and a fiscal stimulus, the Juncker plan, that was too little, too late. Continue reading “The euro is 20 – time to grow up”

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Does Price Stability entail Financial Stability?

by Paul Hubert and Francesco Saraceno (@fsaraceno)

Paul Krugman raises the very important issue of the impact of monetary policy on financial stability. He starts with the well-known observation that, contrary to the predictions of some, expansionary monetary policy did not lead to inflation during the current crisis. He then continues arguing that tighter monetary policy would not necessarily guarantee financial stability either. If the Fed were to revert to a more standard Taylor rule, financial stability would not follow. As Krugman aptly argues, “That rule was devised to produce stable inflation; it would be a miracle, a benefaction from the gods, if that rule just happened to also be exactly what we need to avoid bubbles.Continue reading “Does Price Stability entail Financial Stability?”

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What do we know about the end of monetary unions?

By Christophe Blot and Francesco Saraceno

The European elections were marked by low turnouts and increasing support for Eurosceptic parties. These two elements reflect a wave of mistrust vis-à-vis European institutions, which can also be seen in confidence surveys and in the increasingly loud debate about a return to national currencies. The controversy over a country leaving the euro zone or even the breakup of the monetary union itself started with the Greek crisis in 2010. It then grew more strident as the euro zone sank into crisis. The issue of leaving the euro is no longer taboo. If the creation of the euro was unprecedented in monetary history, its collapse would be none the less so. Indeed, an analysis of historical precedents in this field shows that they cannot serve as a point of comparison for the euro zone. Continue reading “What do we know about the end of monetary unions?”

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What Reforms for Europe?

by Christophe Blot [1], Olivier Rozenberg [2], Francesco Saraceno [3] et Imola Streho [4]

From May 22 to May 25 Europeans will vote to elect the 751 Members of the European Parliament. These elections will take place in a context of strong mistrust for European institutions. While the crisis of confidence is not specifically European, in the Old Continent it is coupled with the hardest crisis since the Great Depression, and with a political crisis that shows the incapacity of European institutions to reach decisions. The issues at stake in the next European elections, therefore, have multiple dimensions that require a multidisciplinary approach. The latest issue of the Debates and Policies Revue de l’OFCE series (published in French and in English), gathers European affairs specialists – economists, law scholars, political scientists – who starting from the debate within their own discipline, share their vision on the reforms that are needed to give new life to the European project. Our goal is to feed the public debate through short policy briefs containing specific policy recommendations. Our target are obviously the candidates to the European elections, but also unions, entrepreneurs, civil society at large and, above all, citizens interested by European issues. Continue reading “What Reforms for Europe?”

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And what if Italy’s elections turned out to be an opportunity for Europe ?

By Franscesco Saraceno

The whole of Europe is currently fretting about the election results in Italy. The Centre-Left coalition won a narrow majority – because of an electoral law that everyone denounces, but no one seems to have the knowledge or ability to change – which gives it an absolute majority only in the Chamber of Deputies. Due to the way bonuses are attributed for majorities won on a regional basis, no coalition in the Senate has a majority. With its system of “perfect bicameralism”, Italy now finds itself in a situation where there is no possibility of forming a government with a political majority. This note explores one possible scenario for the coming few weeks and its economic consequences for Italy and Europe. Continue reading “And what if Italy’s elections turned out to be an opportunity for Europe ?”

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Does inequality hurt economic performance?

By Francesco Saraceno

Economic theory has long neglected the effects of income distribution on the performance of the economy. Students were taught right from Introduction to Economics 101 that the subject of efficiency had to be separated from considerations of equity. The idea is that the size of the cake had to be expanded to the maximum before it is shared. It was implicit in this dichotomy that economists should address the issue of efficiency and leave the question of distribution (or redistribution) to the politicians. In this framework, the economist’s role is simply to ensure that choices about the channels for redistribution through taxation and public spending do not affect growth by interfering with the incentives of economic agents. Echoes of this view can be found both in the debate about the taxation of very large incomes envisaged by the French Government as well as in authors like Raghuram Rajan who justify inequality with references to technical progress and international trade, a view refuted by Paul Krugman. Continue reading “Does inequality hurt economic performance?”

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Plea for a growth pact: the sound and fury hiding a persistent disagreement

By Jean-Luc Gaffard and Francesco Saraceno

The emphasis on the need to complement fiscal restraint by measures to boost growth, which is rising in part due to the electoral debate in France, is good news, not least because it represents a belated recognition that austerity is imposing an excessively high price on the countries of southern Europe. Continue reading “Plea for a growth pact: the sound and fury hiding a persistent disagreement”

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