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Working Paper

Sovereign debt and its restructuring framework in the euro area

To compensate for the inflexibility of fixed exchange rates, the euro area needs flexibility through a system of orderly debt restructuring. With virtually no room for macroeconomic manoeuvring since the crisis onset, fiscal austerity has been the main instrument for achieving reductions in public debt levels; but because austerity also weakens growth, public debt ratios have barely budged. 

By: Date: August 11, 2013 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

To compensate for the inflexibility of fixed exchange rates, the euro area needs flexibility through a system of orderly debt restructuring. With virtually no room for macroeconomic manoeuvring since the crisis onset, fiscal austerity has been the main instrument for achieving reductions in public debt levels; but because austerity also weakens growth, public debt ratios have barely budged. Austerity has also implied continued high private debt ratios. And these debt burdens have perpetuated economic stasis. Economic theory,history, and the recent experience all call for a principled debt restructuring mechanism as an integral element of the euro area’s design. Sovereign debt should be recognised as equity (a residual claim on the sovereign), operationalised by the automatic lowering of the debt burden upon the breach of contractually-specified thresholds. Making debt more equity-like is also the way forward for speedy private deleveraging. This debt-equity swap principle is a needed shock absorber for the future but will also serve as the principle to deal with the overhang of ‘legacy’ debt.

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External Publication

Facing the lower bound: what will the ECB do in the next recession?

In responding to the global financial crisis, the ECB has pushed its monetary policy into unchartered territories . Today, it appears increasingly constrained by persistently low interest rates. This paper seeks to understand this challenge and assess whether its toolkit would allow the ECB to weather a European recession.

By: Aliénor Cameron, Grégory Claeys and Maria Demertzis Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 27, 2020
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Opinion

Europe needs a Covid-19 Recovery Programme

Policymakers need to think long-term and start planning a broad investment scheme to reboot the European economy.

By: Grégory Claeys, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 27, 2020
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Upcoming Event

Mar
31
12:30

CANCELLED: How adequate is the European toolbox to deal with financial stability risks in a low rate environment?

Bruegel is delighted to welcome the governor of the Central Bank of Ireland, Gabriel Makhlouf. He will deliver a keynote address about how adequate the European toolbox is to tackle financial stability risks in a low rate environment. Following his speech, a panel of experts will further discuss the topic.

Speakers: Gabriel Makhlouf, Guntram B. Wolff and Agnès Bénassy-Quéré Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Upcoming Event

Mar
31
13:00

The Sound of Economics Live: The macroeconomic policy response to the COVID-19 crisis

Which macroeconomic policy response is the best option to deal with the crisis currently unfolding and will ensure that the recovery will be as quick as possible?

Speakers: Grégory Claeys, Giuseppe Porcaro, Lucrezia Reichlin and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Blog Post

COVID-19 Fiscal response: What are the options for the EU Council?

It is time for the EU Council to make quick progress on the fiscal front and announce something as soon as possible to show that it taken full measure of the severity of the situation.

By: Grégory Claeys and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 26, 2020
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Blog Post

What the EU should do and not do on trade in medical equipment

The European Union has introduced export controls on some medical supplies. This was a mistake. It should announce that it is withdrawing the measure, and call on other countries to do the same.

By: André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 25, 2020
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Blog Post

Coronavirus and the politics of a common fiscal instrument

Coronavirus means many European Union countries will soon face major increases in their sovereign debt burdens, exacerbated by the sudden collapse of economic activity. What should the European Union do to address these debt problems?

By: Mark Hallerberg and Stavros Zenios Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 25, 2020
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External Publication

How has the macroeconomic imbalances procedure worked in practice to improve the resilience of the euro area?

This paper shows how the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP) could be streamlined and its underlying conceptual framework clarified. Implementation of the country-specific recommendations is low; their internal consistency is sometimes missing; despite past reforms, the MIP remains largely a countryby-country approach running the risk of aggravating the deflationary bias in the euro area. We recommend to streamline the scoreboard around a few meaningful indicators, involve national macro-prudential and productivity councils, better connect the various recommendations, simplify the language and further involve the Commission into national policy discussions. This document was prepared for the Economic Governance Support Unit at the request of the ECON Committee.

By: Agnès Bénassy-Quéré and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 24, 2020
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Blog Post

What should be done to reduce euro-area spreads?

Spreads are rising again in the euro-area at the worst possible time, when fiscal policy is needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic shock. This blog post reviews the main options available to European policymakers, their feasibility and potential effectiveness to deal with this issue.

By: Grégory Claeys Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 18, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

How can the EU prevent our economies from shutting down?

From flights cancelled and restaurants closed to companies either slowing or stopping their production, COVID-19 is shutting our economies down. How can the EU reboot them? What should be our fiscal and monetary response to the pandemic? Will our economic system ever be the same once everything is over? This week, Guntram Wolff is joined by Jean Pisani-Ferry and Maria Demertzis to discuss the EU's response to the coronavirus.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 18, 2020
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Opinion

The European coronavirus response must be a solution, not more stigma

Lagarde needs a different bazooka in responding to a natural disaster like COVID-19.

By: Rebecca Christie Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 18, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

CANCELLED: The new age of old age? Laying out the Non-Financial Defined Contribution scheme

Are Non-Financial Defined Contribution (NDC) schemes the best approach to reforming pension systems?

Speakers: Robert Holzmann and Maria Demertzis Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: March 18, 2020
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