How Fragile Is the Eurozone?

By Clive Crook

Martin Wolf refers me to this new paper by Paul De Grauwe, The Governance of a Fragile Europe. It very well argued and, I think, entirely convincing. Unless something is done, the prognosis for the eurozone is not good. Here is the abstract:

When entering a monetary union, member-countries change the nature of their sovereign debt in a fundamental way, i.e., they cease to have control over the currency in which their debt is issued. As a result, financial markets can force these countries' sovereigns into default. In this sense member countries of a monetary union are downgraded to the status of emerging economies. This makes the monetary union fragile and vulnerable to changing market sentiments. It also makes it possible that self-fulfilling multiple equilibria arise. I analyze the implications of this fragility for the governance of the Eurozone. I conclude that the new governance structure does not sufficiently recognize this fragility. Some of the features of the new financial assistance are likely to increase this fragility. In addition, it is also likely to rip member-countries of their ability to use the automatic stabilizers during a recession. This is surely a step backward in the long history of social progress in Europe. I suggest a different approach to deal with these problems.

De Grauwe's suggestions are new steps towards political union, including joint issue of eurobonds and an expanded role for the ECB in controlling credit expansion country but country. If you doubt that these moves are politically feasible--as I do--then so much the worse for the future of the eurozone.

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