Policy brief

The threat of 'currency wars': a European perspective

Publishing date
13 December 2010

This Policy Contribution was prepared as a briefing paper for the European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee's Monetary Dialogue, entitled The threat of currency wars: global imbalances and their effect on currencies, held on 30 November 2010. Bruegel Fellows Jean Pisani-Ferry and Zsolt Darvas argue the so-called currency war is manifested in three ways: 1) the inflexible pegs of undervalued currencies; 2) attempts by floating exchange-rate countries to resist currency appreciation; 3) quantitative easing.

Europe should primarily be concerned about the first issue, which relates to the renewed debate about the international monetary system. The attempts of floating exchange-rate countries to resist currency appreciation are generally justified while China retains a peg. Quantitative easing cannot be deemed a "beggar-thy-neighbour" policy as long as the Fed's policy is geared towards price stability. Central banks should come to an agreement about the definition of price stability at a time of deflationary pressures, as current US inflationary expectations are at historically low levels. Finally, the exchange rate of the Euro has not been greatly impacted by the recent currency war; the euro continues to be overvalued, but less than before.

About the authors

  • Jean Pisani-Ferry

    Jean Pisani-Ferry holds the Tommaso Padoa Schioppa chair of the European University Institute. He is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, the European think tank, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute (Washington DC). He is also a professor of economics with Sciences Po (Paris).

    He sits on the supervisory board of the French Caisse des Dépôts and serves as non-executive chair of I4CE, the French institute for climate economics.

    Pisani-Ferry served from 2013 to 2016 as Commissioner-General of France Stratégie, the ideas lab of the French government. In 2017, he contributed to Emmanuel Macron’s presidential bid as the Director of programme and ideas of his campaign. He was from 2005 to 2013 the Founding Director of Bruegel, the Brussels-based economic think tank that he had contributed to create. Beforehand, he was Executive President of the French PM’s Council of Economic Analysis (2001-2002), Senior Economic Adviser to the French Minister of Finance (1997-2000), and Director of CEPII, the French institute for international economics (1992-1997).

    Pisani-Ferry has taught at University Paris-Dauphine, École Polytechnique, École Centrale and the Free University of Brussels. His publications include numerous books and articles on economic policy and European policy issues. He has also been an active contributor to public debates with regular columns in Le Monde and for Project Syndicate.

  • Zsolt Darvas

    Zsolt Darvas, a Hungarian citizen, joined Bruegel as a Visiting Fellow in September 2008 and continued his work at Bruegel as a Research Fellow from January 2009, before being appointed Senior Fellow from September 2013. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Corvinus University of Budapest.

    From 2005 to 2008, he was the Research Advisor of the Argenta Financial Research Group in Budapest. Before that, he worked at the research unit of the Central Bank of Hungary (1994-2005) where he served as Deputy Head.

    Zsolt holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Corvinus University of Budapest where he teaches courses in Econometrics but also at other institutions since 1994. His research interests include macroeconomics, international economics, central banking and time series analysis.

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