WP 2014/06: Balance of payments or monetary sovereignty? In search of the EMU’s original sin – a reply to Lavoie

1 Posted by - 22 dicembre 2014 - Working Papers

In a recent paper Marc Lavoie (2014) has criticized my interpretation of the Eurozone (EZ) crisis as a balance of payments crisis (BoP view for short). He rather identified the original sin “in the setup and self-imposed constraint of the European Central Bank”. This is defined here as the monetary sovereignty view. This view belongs to a more general view that see the source of the EZ troubles in its imperfect institutional design. According to the (prevailing) BoP view, supported with different shades by a variety of economists from the conservative Sinn to the progressive Frenkel, the original sin is in the current account (CA) imbalances brought about by the abandonment of exchange rate adjustments and in the inducement to peripheral countries to get indebted with core countries. An increasing number of economists would add the German neo-mercantilist policies as an aggravating factor. While the BoP crisis appears as a fact, a better institutional design would perhaps have avoided the worse aspects of the current crisis and permitted a more effective action by the ECB. Leaving aside the political unfeasibility of a more progressive institutional set up, it is doubtful that this would fix the structural unbalances exacerbated by the euro. Be this as it may, one can, of course, blame the flawed institutional set up and the lack an ultimate action by the ECB as the culprit of the crisis, as Lavoie seems to argue. Yet, since this institutional set up is not there, the EZ crisis manifests itself as a balance of payment crisis.

Sergio Cesaratto
University of Siena

Keywords: Socialist Marxian Sraffian; Central banks and their policies; Current account adjustment; International lending and debt problems; Macroeconomics issues of monetary unions.

JEL classification: B51, E58, F32, F34, F45.

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