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Policy Contribution

The euro area’s tightrope walk: debt and competitiveness in Italy and Spain

Competitiveness adjustment in struggling southern euro-area members requires persistently lower inflation than in major trading partners, but low inflation worsens public debt sustainability. When average euro-area inflation undershoots the two percent target, the conflict between intra-euro relative price adjustment and debt sustainability is more severe.

By: Date: September 2, 2013 Topic: Macroeconomic policy

Competitiveness adjustment in struggling southern euro-area members requires persistently lower inflation than in major trading partners, but low inflation worsens public debt sustainability. When average euro-area inflation undershoots the two percent target, the conflict between intra-euro relative price adjustment and debt sustainability is more severe.

In our baseline scenario, the projected public debt ratio reduction in Italy and Spain is too slow and does not meet the European fiscal rule. Debt projections are very sensitive to underlying assumptions and even small negative deviations from GDP growth, inflation and budget surplus assumptions can easily result in a runaway debt trajectory.

The case for a greater than five percent of GDP primary budget surplus is very weak. Beyond vitally important structural reforms, the top priority is to ensure that euro area inflation does not undershoot the two percent target, which requires national policy actions and more accommodative monetary policy. The latter would weaken the euro exchange rate, thereby facilitating further intra-euro adjustment. More effective policies are needed to foster growth. But if all else fails, the European Central Bank’s Outright Monetary Transactions could reduce borrowing costs.

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External Publication

European Parliament

Tailoring prudential policy to bank size: the application of proportionality in the US and euro area

In-depth analysis prepared for the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

By: Alexander Lehmann and Nicolas Véron Topic: Banking and capital markets, European Parliament, Macroeconomic policy Date: October 14, 2021
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Can climate change be tackled without ditching economic growth?

The notion of degrowth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions appears unrealistic; decoupling of emissions from growth is in principle possible but requires unprecedented efforts.

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Past Event

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The Sound of Economics Live: Unboxing the State of the Union 2021

In this Sound of Economics Live episode, we look at the State of the Union address delivered by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.

Speakers: Grégory Claeys, Maria Demertzis, Alicia García-Herrero and Giuseppe Porcaro Topic: Macroeconomic policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 15, 2021
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The Value of Money, Controversial Economic Cultures in Europe: Italy and Germany

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