736. Alternative interpretations of a stateless currency crisis

Working paper N. 736 Agosto 2016

Sergio Cesaratto

DEPS, Università di Siena


A number of economists warned that a political union was a prerequisite for a viable currency union. This paper disputes the feasibility of such a political union. A fully-fledged federal union, that would likely please peripheral Europe, is impracticable since it implies a degree of fiscal solidarity that just does not exist. A Hayekian minimal federal state, that would appeal to core-Europe, would be refused by peripheral members, since residual fiscal sovereignty would be surrendered without any clear positive economic and social return. Even an intermediate solution based on coordinated Keynesian policies would be unfeasible, since it would be at odds with German ‘monetary mercantilism’. The euro area is thus trapped between equally unfeasible political perspectives. In this bleak context, austerity policies are mainly explained by the necessity of readdressing the euro area BoP crisis. This crisis presents striking similarities to traditional financial crises in emerging economies associated with fixed exchange regimes. Therefore, the ECB's delayed response to the sovereign debt crisis cannot be seen as the culprit of the euro area crisis. The ECB’s monetary refinancing mechanisms, Target 2 and the ECB's belated OMT intervention impeded a blow-up of the currency union, but could not solve its deep causes. The current combination of austerity policies and moderate ECB intervention aims to rebalance intra-eurozone foreign accounts and to force competitive deflation strategy.


European crisis, political and currency unions, ECB, balance of payments crisis, mercantilism

Jel Codes

E11, F33, N14