The Economics of European Integration 6e (Chapters 14-19) [6. ed] ISBN-10: 1526847213

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The Economics of European Integration 6e  (Chapters 14-19) [6. ed]
 ISBN-10: 1526847213

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Citation preview

14.1 14.2 14. 14.4_ 14. 14.6 14.7

Back to the future: before paper money Bretton Wood~ as an antidote to the inter-war debacle After Bretton Woods: Europe's snake in the tunnel The European Monetary System The Maastricht Treaty The crisis Summary Annex: Hume's mechanism

324 331 332 334 339 341 341 344

CHAPTER 14 The histo ry of European monetary integrati on


• •

· t ration in Europe. The aim 1s to reveal This chapter presents the main steps in the history of monetary ill eg ll the monetary union is f the deep logic that has led the creation of the euro. As w~ ~now all _:e:;~~s have been paramount : from perfect - more on that m subseq,uent chapters - and political consi d . th . h ts deve 1ope ill e prev10us c apter h along, yet there is also an economic logic behind it. Indeed, t e concep provide a powerful interpretation of the main events. . ll • t t d lr d th · that completely eschew capital . Among countnes contra1s an d are financia .y m. egra e . a ea y' e · • f. ·al globalization and it concerns all mterest rate panty condition applies. This is often referred to as illanci d h f · • . • k t tries As they o so t the developed countries and, mcr~asmgly so, the emergmg mar e coun · . ' ey ace. the th impossible trinity and the loss of the monetary policy instrument if they wish to keep err exchange_rate fixed. When a group of countries want to stabilize their bilateral exchange rates, they have to cooperate m the area of monetary policy. The more exchange rate stability they wish to achieve, the tighter muSt be c~operation. At the end of the spectrum lies a monetary union, where the bilateral exchange rates have disappea~ed completely or, eq,uivalently, have been set once and for all. In this case, there can be only monetary policy and, therefore, one central bank. A number of European countries have travelled that road. The trip has been eventful and erratic. Part of the reason is that the concepts presented in Chapter 13 were either unknown or ignored. Going back over the events through the prism of current knowledge is not just fascinating; it also reveals the deep logic behind European monetary integration, as well as the reasons why a number of countries have chosen to pursue that process. The chapter starts far back in the nineteenth century with a brief review of the Gold Standard. Interest in history is justified by the fact that, in many respects, a monetary union works like the Gold Standard. In both cases sovereign countries share the same currency - gold back then, the euro now - and can no longer use the exchange rate to correct imbalances. Under the Gold Standard, when the real exchange rate departed from its eq,uilibrium level, the req,uired correction had to be achieved through price ( and wage) adjustments, a feature highly relevant to the Eurozone crisis. This is a warning, rather a reminder, that a monetary union may be very painful. The chapter next looks at the inter-war period, characterized by the Great Depression, currency crises and the dislocation of international trade as the Gold Standard crumbled. Policy mistakes accumulated during these years provide a number of important lessons. These lessons have played a crucial role in shaping the post-Second World War global system, the Bretton Woods arrangement built around fixed exchange rates and the Intem~tional Monetar~ Fund. From a European viewpoint, this system offered exchange rate stability. Its derruse left Europe m the search for a replacement. The chapter recounts the path to the creation o~ the European Monetary System (EMS). The EMS worked well as long as capital controls were pervasive. When these co~trols were remov~d, as predicted by the in1possible trinity principle, the EMS was no longer the solut10n to the q,uest for mtra-European exchange rate stability. The logical response was a common currency.


14.1 Back to the future: before paper money Europe's path to compl~te monetary i~tegrati01~ is spectacular but, in many ways, it is just a return to the situation that prevailed before the mtroduct10n of pap r mon y. This section reviews the historical record, partly for its own sake, and partly becaus som important lessons have been learnt, then often forgotten.

14.1.1 The world as a monetary union ~om ti1:1e i~emo~ial until the end of the nineteenth c~ntury, a bewildering variety of currencies were circulatmg side by side. However, each of these currencies was defined by its content of p cious metal (c~iefly gold and silver). Local lords endeavoured to control the minting of currency in fiefdoms, chiefly because it was a source of revenue, called seigniorage. Exchange rates existed between these


Back to the future: before paper money coins - recognizable by the face of th 1 rd of precious metal in coins. Over tim e t~ - but th_ey merely corresponded to the different contents Gold Standard. i e, e role of silver diminished, heralding the emergence of the In effect, goods were priced in gold B content added up to the price. In t" · uyers a nd sellers would then exchange various coins whose gold of gold. The 'world' was just on::~;~e, gold ~as th e currency and monies were merely the materialization now have central banks that can er tary ~rnon. The crucial difference between now and then is that we This system had a . eate at will another form of money, paper money. This property , which w::r1 mce property: it automatically restored a country's extema~ balanc:. 0 st . ( B when we adopted paper money, is known as Hume's pnce-specie mec h amsm see ox 14 1 for t · . t th . t · a no eon Hume). The mechanism is well worth a modem visit because it app 1ies o em ernal workin O f • · . g a monetary umon. Briefly stated, the mechamsm works as follows. h ose pnces are too hi"gh i·s A country. w • - its . real exchange rate is · overva1ue d - an d runs a . . uncompe t·itive trade. deficit. This means that impor · t ers spend more gold money, which · is · shipped · . abroad, than exporters rec~ive from abroad m payment for their sales. Overall, therefore, the stock of money declines. This can be interpreted as a contractionary monetary policy. Note that this is exactly what Figure 13.15 shows in the case of a fixed exchange rate regime, when the option of a parity change is ruled out. A more elaborate presentation is offered in the Annex.

Box 14.1

David Hume (1711-76) Born in 1711 to a well-to-do family in Berwickshire, Scotland, Hurne mostly wrote on philosophy, including the Principles of Morals (1751), which founded, among other things, the theory of utility. His works were highly influential even though theu were denounced at the time as sceptical and atheistic. His economic thinking, mainlu contained in Political Discourses (1752), had a large impact on Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus. Source: Shutterstock /Georgios Kollidas

f ult presented in Chapter 15. There we show that when the money stock O Next, we make use a rehs ge rate is overvalued), eventually prices decline. The process must go on de lin (h because the exc an . .. . c es ere . d the real exchange rate returns to its eq,uihbnum level. Thus, the flows ·ti· is restore til un competl veness . th xtemal deficit. The opposite occurs when prices are too low - the real · n limmate e e f 1 o go d automa~ica -Y e _ d the current account is in surplus: inflows of gold eventually lead to e~change rate is underval~ed surplus. The opposite occurs with a deficit caused by o r aluation. 0 higher prices and a correctwn of exchange rates, over- and undervaluations that au e.,rternal The crucial point is that, in the absenhce ·ce movements. This was the case under th Gold tandard and it · imbalances are self-correct·mg throug pn is also the case in a monetar-y union. tl table 'world monetary union'. Th und rlying r ason is the n inheren Y s . . The Gold Standard was a . . al fixed exchange rate r gun , th r w r . no ap1tal controls, . . U der this univers . . impossible trinity principle. n b rders was cumb rsom and n e anly low (and p rilous!). • gold across o even though physically movmg . t tl refor Indeed th re wa no ntral bank, at least not any . them' today. Beyond hat ould bee ,tracte d f rom Monetary policy autonomy could not . ex1s ' ie we know · ly d t nmne · d by m · t ernati ona1 authority creating paper or e1ectronic money .as 1 01- gold mon y wa ntir . try the stoc < the ground and rivers, many coun . ·t· according to market d mand and supply. were adjus mg movements and interest rates



il World War I. Beforehand, for centuries, gold and silver cot five deca d es u nt . lik d ll lasted for abou The exchange rate between gold and silver fluctuated e mo em The true Gold Standard re(a Y si·de other metals actually). bun·etallism and implicitly describes a much longer period, the e · t d lli nies a 1ong f ll ws ignores . . . XIS e as meta c mo Th resentation that o o . oney created by central banks without metallic backmg. currency exchange rates. ~ P read use of fiat money, i.e. m centuries that precede the widesp

CHAPTER 14 The history of European monetary integration

So far, we have looked only at gold movements driven by trade imbalances - shipments of gold from importers to their producers abroad. Capital, too, was flowing across borders _for th e sa~e reasons_ as today, namely saving and borrowing, including lending by early bankers to kmgs and P:mces wagmg costly wars. The overall external balance, which is called the balance of payments, combmes trade and capital flows Great, then? Not so fast, please. Note that prices had to do the balancing work They were going up and down, as were wages. What was bringing prices and wages down were long periods of recession and rising unemployment. Poverty was rampant and aggravated during these periods of adjustment. It i~ easy ~oday to admire the automatic world of gold money and to forget the hardship that it imposed. The mvent10n of paper money is a great achievement but, like any invention, it can be misused. The European Monetary Union bears more than a passing resemblance to the Gold Standard. The euro replaces gold since national central banks are no longer allowed to issue national currencies and there is no national exchange rate. Within the Eurozone, when one country runs a balance of payments surplus, it receives an inflow of euros, and conversely, in the case of a deficit, its money supply automatically shrinks. Thus, the Hume mechanism is at work inside the Eurozone; Box 14.2 provides a striking example. In particular, a deficit country can no longer use the exchange rate to re-establish its competitiveness. This will have to be achieved through prices (and wages), which will have to increase more slowly than in the rest of the Eurozone, possibly even to decline. This is precisely what happened in the early 2010s in a number of crisis-hit countries. It came as a shock, but it should not. Hume's mechanism was left to work As we will see in Chapter 19, there are better ways of running a monetary union, without the full rigour of Hume's mechanism, but they were not used, at least not sufficiently .

Box 14.2

TARGET 2: Hume's mechanism at work

In normal times, external imbalances within the Eurozone lead to flows of euros which are largely invisible. They are mostly mediated by banks that deal on money markets. When a bank wants to transfer money to another bank, it first sends it to the system, which then sends the money to the recipient bank. In normal times, many banks offer one another short-term credits, settling at the end of the day or the next day. During the crisis, banks became suspicious that some of them might fail, as some did actually. This interrupted the bulk of cross-border flows of money. The risk was that the monetary union, which req,uir~s seamless transactions within the Eurozone, might stop functioning. This is when TARGET 2 came mto play. TARGET 2 (for Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross settlement Express Transfer system) is the second generation of the payment system for bank . It became the only - or nearly so - way for banks to pay one another. When a country runs a balance of ~ayment def~cit, c?~ecti~el~ all the banks located in thi cotmtry must send money out. The country builds ~p a debit ~ositl~i~ within !ARGET 2, which is guarante d by the ECB. Conversely, a surplus country bmlds a credit posit10n. Durmg the crisis, th E B v a keen to keep payments flowing and granted freely these debit and credit positions, in ff t borr vving from and lending to banks. Figure 14.1 shows the balances of three major otmtri : rrnany Italy and Spain. While these balances were virtually nil m1til the crisis, they start d to gr in 200 . G rmany, the beneficiary of large flows from countries with troubled banks, built up a v ry laTg r dit position. Italy and Spain, with many Lroubl d banks, suffered massiv capital outfl w and built up large debit positions. Surprisingly, these positions hav not de ·lined, they cv -n incrca d, when tl1 crisis ased up and banks started again to do business with on another. We would hav p t d th m to clear up their borrowing and lending vis-a-vis the ECB. Th reason i that, starting in 2015, tl1 ECB has adopted a new policy - described in Chapter 19 - once the int rest rat was brought down to zero. The policy, called Asset Purchase Programmes, consists in lending to banks vast amounts of money to increase their incentives to lend to tlleir customers. As it turns out, banks hold more money tllan tlley wish and they do not park these resources in the countries where banking was previously fragile (e.g. Italy and Spain) but rather in the banks of other countries like Germany. ►

Back to the future: before paper money

Figure 14.1 Positions of Ger


many, Italy and Spain (billions of euro)


Germany 800

600 400 200

-200 -400 -600i--.----,------,-------,-------.------.------.------,-l-ta__:_ly Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015 2017 Source: Based on data from ECB.

Paper money started to exist on a significant scale in the late nineteenth century. Gradually, it started to spread and even to circulate internationally. It was convenient and presumed safe since each banknote was very explicitly a right to obtain a specified amount of gold. This is why the new arrangement was called the Gold Exchange Standard. In contrast with gold, however, paper money did not have to be dug out of the ground. It could be produced at will by the relevant authority. How much should that be? It has taken several decades to find answers to that q,uestion. Meanwhile, experimenting with this new instrument has not been an entirely happy process. It was also during the nineteenth century that people started to identify money with individual countries, 2 as part of the process of creating nation-states. Efforts were then made, not fully successfully, to put some order into what we would now call the international monetary system. As Box 14.3 explains, some countries even decided to share the same currency.

Box 14 _3

Early European monetary unions .


tury gold and silver coins circulated side by side. The e~rchange rate

By the early nmet~ent ftentuat~d in part depending on discoveries of these precious m tals. Britain between ~old and silver u~ drop' silver and adopt the Gold Standard. On the Contin nt, bimetallism was the first large country O h me countries (Germany the Netherlands th candinavian • ven thoug so ' ' survived much longe~, e . old discoveries in the 1850s resulted in th di app a.ranee of silver 1 countries) favoured silver, untl g money on much of the C~ntinent. . France Italy and Switz rland formed th Latin European To preserve bimetalhsm, ~el_g i;~ncestor ~f today's mon tary union. Gr c joined in 1868. That Monetary Union in 1865 - a di sta G man war of 1870- 71, wh n the newly established German . the Franco- er effort foundered following 2

. t · that century and many different cw-rencies still circulated there · 1 unif"icat10n 1.a e 111litical unification ' . arIy, G d hieved politica in 1861 to achi eve monetary unif"ica ti on. Simil ermany an 1ta1y ac d des after its po • d til th B nk f p · ·· well · t th It took Italy two ec~ . 871 different monetary standards survive un e a o russia unified m o e 1850s. Reich 111 1 , 11 even after the creation of the Germa German monies.

CHAPTER 14 The history of European monetary integration

f es by imposing war reparations to empire shifted from silver to gold and weakened French manhc . e of silver the Latin European . • m · Nevad a d epressed t e pnc t dard' be paid in gold. When large discovenes the monetary s an · Monetary Union was abandoned in 1878 and gol d b ecame D k Norwan and Sweden as . . . t d . 1873 by enmar ' l::1 ' The Scandmavian Monetary Umon was crea e m on krona. These countries' part of the 'Scandinavianism' movement in suppor~ of ~he symbol of a cor;n f the First World War the O currencies circulated widely in one another's terntones. At th e outbrea d d d m· ' 1924 · . · n pronounce ea ff Scandinavian Monetary Union ceased to exist, and was o 1cia Y d t littl emblance to mo em mane ary These precedents are merely of historical interest and bear e res Th Id · · tr 1 banks create money. ese o uruons now that the currency is no longer metallic and cen a • t d •th · · d · Then were not associa e WI any monetary uruons amounted to nothing more than harmonize comage. l::1 Ii din ti nk and very tt1e coor a on trade agreement and more importantly there was no common cent ra1b a . · ' ' When external conditions ·· b ecame difficult (the among the national monetary authorities. . fall of the pnce of silver in the case of the Latin European Monetary Union, and the dislocations. of _war m th e case of the Scandinavian Monetary Union), each country reacted in its own way to protect its mterests.

14.1.2 The unhappy inter-war period The Gold Exchange Standard was suspended in 1914 when hostilities disrupted gold shipments and therefore the ability to pay for international trade. The subseq,uent inter-war period left a bitter taste in Europe, which still haunts the Continent. Belligerent countries had emerged exhausted from the First World War, facing huge debts. Over the next 30 years they never q,uite fully recovered. In many ways, the post-1945 European economic and political integration represents an effort to prevent any repeat of the inter-war disaster. Wars are expensive and strain budgets, especially as governments are loath to raise taxes. The two alternatives are either to issue debt or to run the printing press. Both were used during the First World War. Prices were often kept ~rtifi~ially stable through rationing schemes; when the war ended and prices were freed, _the a~cum~ate~ inflat10nary pressure burst. Some of the most famous hyperinflation episodes erupted dunng this penod, with Germany, Hungary and Greece facing monthly inflation rates of 1000 per cent or more in the early 1920s. Lacking the vision of how ~ world of paper money could work - many even doubted that it could exist _ to return to the Gold Exchange Standard as s . b t P ost-war policymakers comrrutted . . oon as practica1, ut a which exchange rate? Different European countnes adopted different stratem hi h . • • • l::1 ... es, w c ended up teanng them apart economically and politically. We look at three prominent cases· th UK Fr • ' 1 · f th · 1 1 . · e , ance and Germany. Figure 14.2 shows the evo ut10n o e pnce eve and the nommal and real h . · d di 1 d T · exc ange rates all normalized to be eq,ual to 100 over the per10 sp aye . he first chart represents th t Ii ' exchange is constant because the price level and the nominal exchange et Y zed case when the real year after year. We know from Chapter 13 that this is not the case in pra /a e exactly offset each other in the long run, but this is a good reference point to evaluate the actual c ice _a nd th at PPP emerges only Germany during the inter-war period. experience in the UK, France and

The UK The British price level about doubled during the war, much more than in the . economic powerhouse. Since the nominal exchange rate was kept fix d . . USA, the newly emergmg 1 a sharp real appreciation. The British authorities then t mporarilt elative to gold, the result was 1 and external competitiveness recovered. Yet, they onsid r d th;t s.;;:i~e~ ~ d th~ _e xchange rate_ P:g international monetary matters was tied to th gold link of sterling I th f am s tradit10nal leadership m they decided to return the much-depreciated sterling to its pre-w~t old ace_of~ mounting US cha~enge, face'. This decision has been recognized as a landmark policy mist~ iianty'. to look the dollar m the value would have raised the real exchange rate had domestic prices n::~ec ~turnmg sterling to its pre-~ar a lengthy and painful process brought about by economic stagnat"1 As lme~ sharply through deflatwn, suggests, monetary policy autonomy was lost. Poor growth and a ::ak th e impossible trinity princip!e sterling, once considered 'as good as gold'. The City of London lost current account eroded trust in ground to New York's Wall Street.

Back to th e f uture: before paper money Figure 14.2 Prices and exch

180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0

ange rates· Fr . ance Germ ' any and the UK, 1910-39 PPP theory


- - Price_ -R - - Nominal exchange ~~~ exchange rate







150 _:U_:K~----~ 140 130 120 110 100 90 80 70 60 5011,,-.,..-,r,-,,-,r-rr,-.-----r~:_,_,:~~__j










140 r - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ 130

120 110 100 90 80

70 60~------------__J Note: Both exchange rates, nominal and real,_ are expressed vis-a-vis the US dollar. Along with the cons umer pnce · m · d ex, th ey are computed to be eq,ual to 100 on average durmg the whole inter-war period. Source: Based on data from Oscar Jorda, Moritz Schularick and Alan M. Taylor (2017). 'Macrofinancial History and the New Business Cycle Facts', in M. Eichenbaum andJ. A. Parker (eds),NBERMacroeconomicsAnnual2016 , volume 31 . Chicago: urnvers1ty · · of Chicago Press.

When Wall Street crashed in 1929, the British economy was already weak, still facing deflation. The UK was in no position to deal with yet more hardship and was hit by _the Great Depression. The exchange markets sensed this vulnerability and repeatedly launched s~eculative a~acks on sterling. When, at long last, the Bank of England withdrew from the Gol~ Standard m 1931, sterling promptly lost 30 per cent of its value with respect to gold and the dollar. But, m 1933, ~he USA also a~andoned the Gold Standard and devalued the dollar by 40 per cent, and many other count~ies followed sm~. A weaker dollar m chanically .tish competitiveness agam was comprormsed. An ambition was gone and ' meant a stronger sterling an d Brl the price was high: a decade of miserable growth.


. but it. lost control of inflation the franc to its pre-war gold parity, France, t_oo, initially intended to ~e ~~e war the French public d bt had grmvn ignificantly more than in for a penod of several years. Dunng . f·urther after th war on tl1 pr mis that Germany's huge war th e UK. The government a 11ow ed it to . up th bill. . When, by 1924, it . became . Vnse .Iles would ev ntually pick 1 reparations . . rmposed by t h e T re aty of ersa inflation soared to an annual rate of close to 50 per cent, which clear that Germany would not plug th e ho1e, ttacked and sunk. When inflation was finally halted in 1926, the t

Wiped out much of the debt. The fra_nc wa~;ar parity. franc was stabilized at one-fifth of its pre St dard in 1928 but, in contrast to the pound, at an undervalued an . could run surpluses .on its France officially returned to th e Golddervaluation served France ~ell as 1t Parity. Over the next few years, th~ ~ance accumulated large foreign exchange reserves. Convemently, balance of payments and the Banq,ue e


CHAPTER 14 The history of European monetary integration

the undervaluation helped France to sail through the Great Depression relatively unscathed. Trouble st arted when many countries followed Britain's 1931 decision to devalue. Their renewed competitiveness ca_me at the expense of that of France. The following wave of devaluations, including of the US dollar, raise~ the franc's effective exchange rate. Fighting the inevitable, France and some other countries (B~l~um, Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland) formed the Gold Bloc, an attempt to Jointly protect their now overvalued currencies. Overvaluation eventually brought the Great Depression to France. Facing speculative attacks, exactly as had the UK ten years earlier, France finally devalued its currency by a whopping 42 per cent.

Germany In ~ontra~t to France and the UK, Germany never considered returning its exchange rate to its pre-war panty_- With0 ut even taking into account the massive war reparations imposed in 1919 by the Treaty of V~rsailles, the public debt was huge. As in France, Germany's post-war inflation was high, but in 1922 it 3 slipped out of control. The result was one of history's most violent hyperinflation. A new Deutschmark th wor one million times the old one _ was established in 1924 as part of a successful anti-inflation progra~me. The German economy started to pick up just when it was hit by the Great Depression. Preserving the restored value of the mark was seen as essential to dispel the ghosts of hyperinflation. Like th e franc, the mark became overvalued when more and more countries devalued their own currencies. Germany first suspended its debt and then started to move away from a free trade system. Then capital controls were established. As the depression deepened, the Nazis combined public spending with wage and price increases. This further dented external competitiveness and deepened the trade deficit. The response was to stop the conversion of marks into gold and foreign currencies - an extreme form of capital control and to impose ever-widening state controls on imports and exports. Germany bypassed completely the foreign exchange market by working out bilateral barter agreements with one country after another.

Lessons With free capital mobility re-established, once they had restored the Gold Exchange Standard - that is, when they set a fixed gold value for their paper monies - France and the UK had to forgo autonomy over their monetary policies. This is when the pattern of exchange rates and prices resemble the theoretical predictions of the PPP principle. In the depths of the Great Depression, however, the urge to use monetary policy became too strong. The impossible trinity principle was violated and the result was the end of the fixed exchange rate system. Germany respected the impossible trinity principle, in an extreme way, by severing all market-based relationships with the rest of the world and regulating prices to prevent ppp from asserting itself. Once the Gold Exchange Standard collapsed, exchange rates were left to float, a fairly novel experience. Faced with a deep recession, each country - except Germany - sought to boost its exports by letting its exchange rate depreciate and become undervalued. But one country's undervaluation is another country's overvaluation, hurting foreign exports. The ensuing round of tit-for-tat depreciations, which came to be called beggar-thy-neighbour policies, led nowhere but began to disrupt trade. Protectionist measures soon followed and trade exchanges went into a tailspin, aggravating the depression. The result was political instability, leading to war. This traumatic period left a deep imprint within Europe, shaping post-war thinking among policymakers, who started to realize the complexity of paper money. Among the many lessons learnt, two are relevant for the monetary integration process: Floating exchange rates can be manipulated. The resulting misalignments breed trade barriers and eventually undermine prosperity. Most European countries developed a fear of floating, which remains a key concern today. 2 The management of exchange rate parities cannot be left to each country's discretion. We need an international order that deals with the fact that one country's depreciation is another country's appreciation. In other words, we need a 'system'. 3

This is why pre-hyperinflation prices and exchange rates are not shown in Figure 14.2 - the scale doesn't allow for them!

Bretton Wood

. s as an antidote to the inter-war debacl e

t:~ ~

14.2 Bretton Woods as an antidot . Even before the end of the Seco d w e to the inter-war debacle

. n orld War th USA conf erence. Th e aim was to establ. h . ' e and the UK started to plan the Bretton Woods . d h . is an 111ternati 1 Go ld remame t e ultimate source O f ona monetary system based on paper currencies. US government guaranteed its val _value, but th e dollar became the anchor of the system and the ue 111 terms f ld Al ' the dollar. Exchange rates were 'f d b go · 1 other currencies were defined in terms of outdated parity ( over- or underval ixt_e ut acl.Ju st able' to avoid both unreasonable adherence to an ua ion) and a 111 . t undertaking, with the International M n er-war-type free-for-all. The system was a collective emergency assistance. Box 14 onetary Fund (IMF) both supervising compliance and providing 4 · presents the IMF. As supplier of the system's central currency and host


Box 14.4 The International Monetary Fund


st ~he w~: e ablis~ed in 1944 as part of the Bretton Woods agreements, alongside the World Bank. 9 urren_ Y' countnes are members of the Fund. Its role is to provide support to countries that run out of foreign exchange reserves · T0 d o so, t h e IMF needs resources. They are provided · · from . by deposits each member mto the IMF of a given amount, called a q,uota, that reflects its size in the world economy. ~en ~ country faces difficulties with its external payments, it usually is unable to borrow from the financial markets. It may then apply for IMF lending. The IMF determines whether to lend to the country and, if so, how much. Loan sizes are related to each country's q,uota. In order to obtain a loan, the country must agree to undertake a number of policy actions, designed to eliminate the reasons that led to the need for a loan. The most freq,uent reasons are protracted budget deficits and violations of the impossible trinity principle. IMF lending is therefore conditional. Besides lending in emergency situations, the IMF exercises surveillance of its member countries. Once a year, in principle, the IMF examines each member country's economic and financial situation. The process leads to policy recommendations. The purpose of surveillance is to prevent payment difficulties. It also allows the Fund to be familiar with the economic and financial situation of each member. The IMF is controversial for two main reasons. First, its recommendations and conditions are often unwelcome by its members, if only beca~s~ it asks them to change p_olicies that t~ey have chosen, . able • Second, its decis10ns are made by votes of its membership, whereby each and ye t are unsus tam , . country s vote is propo rtional to its q,uota. The USA holds the largest q,uota. The developing countries . 1y comp1am . that they are under-represented. routme . . he USA was the ultimate economic and political guarantor of the y tern. of the IMF m Washmgton, t d and most countries made abundant use of them. This wa compatible Capital controls were not out1awe with the impossible trinity. ·t 1 controls started to be lifted in the 1960s. Th impo ible trinity The system unravelled when caf1 abe freed- including the link between the dollar and gold- or that principle req,uired that exchange autonomy. Most governments - Canada b ing a rar exception the authorities give up monetary P . y . 1 ti·on of the Bretton Woods agr . m nt - r fused to make as it chose to let its currency float m v10 a such a choice. . most countries a Liv - ly u -d mon tary policy to prop up 1 With widespread capital controls ~n P _acne't·on By th late 1960 , how v r, inflation taited to rise in rdmg rn a 1 · growth without much concern rega ~ri anchor of th sy t rn, th US dollar, gradually became ' of countries mclu · the USA. d1 . strain when tl1e USA could no longer· guaiantee · the d ollar 's a number ' t cameun er . . . . overvalued. The Bretton Woods sys em d d the value of its gold r serves. The dermse of the system gold value because the stoc~ of dollar: ~~~su:pended' the dollar's convertibility into gold. Then, in 1973, th occurre d m • tw o s t eps · First' m 1971, .. llY a bandoned·' each country . officia . . would now be free • to choose th 'f" db d" t ble' principle was t rn policy autonomy if it accepted a flexible exchange e ixe ut a JUS a uld retain mone a ::1 its exchange rate regime a nd coe Bretton Woods era. regime. This effectively e nd ed th



CHAPTER 14 The history of European monetary integration

14.3 After Bretton Woods: Europe's snake in the tunnel



th In the 1970s, the European countries were focused on developing the Common Market. Wi fresh memones of the inter-war period, they wanted to maintain among themselves fairly fixed exchange rates and t reassurances that competitive devaluations would be held in check The Bretton Woods syS em provided the solution: exchange rates were fixed and the IMF exerted surveillance on all member countries. Once the system fell apart, Europe found itself without a solution. Its early reaction charted the path for the monetary union that was created three decades later. The first response was the 'European snake', a regional stepped-down version of the Bretton Woods system designed to limit intra-European exchange rate fluctuations by pegging European currencies to the dollar. Under the protection of capital controls, monetary policy was autonomous. Still ignorant of the link between money growth and inflation, many countries used their central banks to expand credit in order to sustain rapid economic growth. With the money stock growing at a sustained rate, inflation would then creep up gradually. Not all countries allowed inflation to take hold, though. Germany and Switzerland, which had forfeited capital controls, used monetary policy sparingly and kept inflation in check With the nominal exchange rates fixed4 a nd ~o~g inflation differentials, real exchange rates started to move away from their eq,uilibrium levels. PPP rmplies that this situation cannot last for too long. External deficits deepened in those countries experiencing inflation and surpluses emerged in countries like Germany and Switzerland. In the late 1960s, France and the UK, two relatively high-inflation currencies, devalued their currencies. The realization that exchange rates were as adjustable as they were fixed, triggered speculation and many more countries devalued Soon European nominal exchange rates became unhooked, as Figure 14.3 shows. PPP was asserting itself. Figure 14.3 Dollar exchange rates, January 1967-December 1977


Germany I

.. I












I ,' ',






,,-- .. ,•





--~-------~---------' '' ,_ ---.. --------... , .,.

France '.. , ..., ;

'. - , - -'' '





', , ,:,,- ,_ - . ~!~ly \


.,. '\

___ , ,

50---t----,-------,-------,---,-----r-~UK Jan 67 Jan 69 Jan 71 Jan 73 Jan 75 Jan 77 Source: Based on data from IMF.

AB explained the snake· was a loose arrangement. It did not d ea1 Wl'th the rmposs1ble . . . • · · 1 · 1in Box 14.5, 1 tnruty ~c1p e: capita contro s were often ID place but they were not tight and could incr • P while there was no restriction on national monetary policies. When inflation ro easIDgly_ be evaded, of th_e first oil shock of 1973-74, the central banks reacted different! . Some (G se abruptly m the wake Belgmm) succeeded at keeping inflation in check, whereas others (e.g. ital and th:rman~, the Net~erl~n_ds, exchange rate fixity with divergent monetary policies was hopele d y. d UK) did not. MaIDtauung leave the snake arrangement. ss an , ID eed, several countries had to 4

With f'_ixe d nomma · 1 exchange rates E, higher increases in the .

u C


South Africa Iceland • • Slovakia Korea • Brazil Mexico













• •Republic



Sweden Hungary • • • Poland • Turkey

Indonesia • Slovenia


• Argentina • Russia


• India

e China


0.0 0.2

0.0 Source: Based on datafrom Cr owe an

0.4 0.6 Independence



d Meade (2008).

. alled its intention to publi h a Eurosystern has sign . . however, the f 2015 At the time of wntmg, . g Council as o . deliberations of the Governm

16. 6 In strum en t s. ctives, any

ounts' of the

· trurn nt to a ff ct Gaggregate demand.

1k musl some m . . ·ncteed what usually do cenlr~!~ey use Lhus interest rat . ~u~~~,1osystem usesthey the short-term In order to meet its obJe k we assume ti_! most oth r c nt.ral banks, I of cash. Very short-term assets In the IS-MP-IRP frame::c~st of credit. ~s


-4 - 5 -6





Note: The figure displays output gaps (percentage of potential GDP). Source: Based on data from Economic Outlook, OECD.





' '' '

Fiscal policy externalities \\ 1a t


does this mean f . or national r m mb r countries undergo s hr . iscal policies? Consider first th h . will want t o ado ync omzed cycles f ' ' e case w en two monetary uruon ~t an expansionary fiscal . ' or example both suffer a recession. Each government of the other, their combined actions ma t~~cy, but to ~h~t extent? If each government ignores the action do most of the work, too little might b oo strong; if, mstead, each government relies on the other to when the cycles are asynchronized ~ one to ~ull each economy out of recession. Consider next the case stands to boost spending in the Ir · expansionary fiscal policy in the country undergoing a slowdown . h b . a eady booming t C . . mt e oormng country stands t 0 d coun ry . onversely, a contractionary fiscal policy move · · m · t h e other country. These examples show that there is ample room for mutuall b eepen . . the re cess10n y eneficial cooperation.


17.~.3 Borrowing cost spillovers


A fiscal expansion increases bli . country's biggest borrower c borrowm~ ~r reduces public saving. As the government is usually the curren cy , Eurozone b ' ge ~udget deficits may push interest rates up. Once they share the same country is large and :t:re~ co~tnes share_the sam~ inter_est rate. One country's deficits, especially if ~he interest rates deter inve icits sizeable, m~y lillpose higher mterest rates throughout the E~ozone. 5 As high stment, they negatively affect long-term growth. This is another spillover channel. As t t d h s a e , t e argument is weak, however. Since Europe is fully integrated in the world's financial k ets any one country's b mar · is · unlikely · · · on world and European . ' orrowmg to make much of an rmpress10n mteres~ r~tes. On th e other hand, heavy borrowing may elicit capital inflows. This could result in an appreciation of th e euro, which would hurt the area's competitiveness and cut into growth. Borrowing costs thus repres ent a noth er channel for spillovers.

17.2.4 Excessive deficits and the no-bailout clause Even before the crisis, it was clear that debt sustainability could not be taken for granted in Europe. As Figure 17.4 shows, overall public indebtedness (as a percentage of GDP) in the Eurozone had more than doubled b etween 1977 and 1996, just before the check on admission criteria.6 In the distant past, public debt had occasionally risen but only in difficult situations, mostly during wars. The post-war build-up of debt, partly related to the oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s, illustrates what is som~t~ es called the 'deficit bias'. This bias reflects a disq,uieting tendency for governments to run budget deficits for no other reason than political expediency. The figure als~ sho:"~ that, sine~ the creatio~ of the euro, public !11debte~e_ss furth~r lobal financial cnsis of 2008, m effect leading to the Eurozone s own cnsIS. Does it rose s t eep1y a ft er the g call for a specific collective meaSure? . . . . . . . . . . ch country's interest to resist the deficit bias and there is no need for collective In principle it is m ea . . .. . ' ill rs can be identified. The foundmg fathers of the euro identified four spillovers. meas~es, unless sp otve dency of financially hard-pressed governments to call upon the central bank to th ~he first c~ncer~s. e monetization, as this is called, is the tradi~onal route to inflation. Centr3:1 bank fmance their deficits. tis the proper response and, as noted m Chapter 16, the Eurosystem mdeed independence from governmen enjoys very strong inde~en Council decision (RQMV for adoption OMV for amendment>

Commission (2nd> recommendation for a Council decision on lack of effective action + (poss.> for revised recommendation on policy measures