Download publication

Working Paper

The simple macroeconomics of North and South in EMU

The euro area today consists of a competitive, moderately leveraged North and an uncompetitive, over-indebted South. Its main macroeconomic challenge is to carry out the adjustment required to restore the competitiveness of its southern part and eliminate its excessive public and private debt burden. This paper investigates the relationship between fiscal and competitiveness adjustment in a stylised model with two countries in a monetary union, North and South. To restore competitiveness, South implements a more restrictive fiscal policy than North.

By: and Date: July 30, 2012 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The euro area today consists of a competitive, moderately leveraged North and an uncompetitive, over-indebted South. Its main macroeconomic challenge is to carry out the adjustment required to restore the competitiveness of its southern part and eliminate its excessive public and private debt burden. This paper investigates the relationship between fiscal and competitiveness adjustment in a stylised model with two countries in a monetary union, North and South. To restore competitiveness, South implements a more restrictive fiscal policy than North.

We consider two scenarios. In the first, monetary policy aims at keeping inflation constant in the North. The South therefore needs to deflate to regain competitiveness, which worsens the debt dynamics. In the second, monetary policy aims at keeping inflation constant in the monetary union as a whole. This results in more monetary stimulus, inflation in the North is higher, and this in turn helps the debt dynamics in the South.

Our main findings are:

  • The differential fiscal stance between North and South is what determines real exchange rate changes. South therefore needs to tighten more. There is no escape from relative austerity.
  • If monetary policy aims at keeping inflation stable in the North and the initial debt is above a certain threshold, debt dynamics are perverse: fiscal retrenchment is self-defeating;
  • If monetary policy targets average inflation instead, which implies higher inflation in the North, the initial debt threshold above which the debt dynamics become perverse is higher. Accepting more inflation at home is therefore a way for the North to contribute to restoring debt sustainability in the South.
  • Structural reforms in the South improve the debt dynamics if the initial debt is not too high. Again, targeting average inflation rather than inflation in the North helps strengthen the favourable effects of structural reforms.
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author
 

Policy Contribution

European Union recovery funds: strings attached, but not tied up in knots

Ensuring effective recovery spending is a high-stakes challenge for the European Union, with the potential for derailment because of fuzzy objectives and overloaded procedures. The EU should work with member countries to identify limited policies that will maximise the impact of EU investment, while accounting for spillovers.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 27, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

Oct
28
16:30

POSTPONED: What will the EU's new migration policy do differently?

POSTPONED. This event has been postponed. We are hoping to be able to announce a new date soon.

Speakers: Hanne Beirens, Margaritis Schinas and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

Oct
29
14:00

Disrupted medical supply chains: symptoms, side-effects, and treatment?

How can the EU increase the resilience of value chains in the health industry?

Speakers: Anabel González, Niclas Poitiers and Giuseppe Ruocco Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Next Generation EU debt: how is it structured?

The impact of EU debt on the EU market of safe assets.

Speakers: Gert-Jan Koopman and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: October 22, 2020
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author
 

Working Paper

The Economic growth and income distribution implications of public spending and tax decisions

European Union countries can reduce inequality of opportunity through public spending and tax decisions. Broadly, the most effective approach includes progressive taxes and inheritance taxes, spending on education, health and public infrastructure, and better government effectiveness. Better fiscal rules and institutions also increase resilience against crises.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 19, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

Nov
9
17:00

Can Europe build a Capital Markets Union without a strong European markets supervisor?

Invitation only event to discuss Europe’s Capital Markets Union.

Speakers: Stephane Boujnah, Jan Pieter Krahnen and Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article Download PDF
 

External Publication

European Parliament

New life for an old framework: redesigning the European Union's expenditure and golden fiscal rules

This briefing paper focuses on two aspects of the EU fiscal framework: whether an expenditure rule would be more reliable than a structural budget balance rule and the possible benefits and drawbacks of introducing a golden rule to exclude certain types of investment from the operational fiscal rule.

By: Zsolt Darvas and Julia Anderson Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: October 14, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

The future of EU-UK relations (again!)

At the eleventh hour of negotiations, what will the future of the EU-UK relationship look like?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 13, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

The Sound of Economics Live: The future of EU-UK relations (again!)


At the eleventh hour of negotiations, what will the future of the EU-UK relationship look like?

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Giuseppe Porcaro, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: October 13, 2020
Read article Download PDF More by this author
 

External Publication

European Parliament

What role for the European Semester in the recovery plan?

In this paper, the author looks at the implications arising from the focus of the Recovery and Resilience Plans in the context of the European Semester.

By: Thomas Wieser Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Testimonies Date: October 12, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Evaluating the European Commission’s control of state aid in the banking sector

Evaluating European Commission’s control of state aid to banks in the period 2013-2018.

Speakers: Mihails Kozlovs and Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: October 8, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

Without good governance EU recovery could fail

Guntram Wolff and Luis Garicano discuss how to ensure that the EU borrowing mechanism would successfully boost economic recovery.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 7, 2020
Load more posts