I started this blog in June 2007 asking these questions: Are we in a massive asset bubble that will blow up in our faces ??? - ANSWERED YES ! Is western and particularly British society on the verge of social collapse??? What are the best common sense long term investment strategies to keep you rich? When will consumption/debt bubble economics end and a real savings/production economy begin ???

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Euro under the ECB: all the pain of a gold standard with non of the benefits

But states in the US are not like states in Europe. Labor and capital mobility in Europe is very low compared to the US, and the Civil War in the US ensured that sovereignty, including most importantly fiscal sovereignty, resided in Washington DC, and not in the various state capitals. The US is clearly as much an optimal currency zone as any large economy can be.

This isn’t the case in Europe. In fact I would argue that the existence of a common currency in Europe, the euro, is only a little more meaningful than the existence of various currencies under the gold standard, and it was pretty obvious under the gold standard that balance of payments crises could indeed exist.

So why not also in Europe under the euro? As I see it, domestic German policies, perhaps aimed at absorbing East German unemployment, forced a structural trade surplus. The strong euro, along with the automatic recycling of Germany’s large trade surplus within Europe, ensured the corresponding trade deficits in the rest of Europe – unless Europeans were willing to enact policies that raised unemployment in order to counter the deficits. As long as the ECB refused to raise interest rates, southern Europe had to accept asset bubbles and rapidly rising debt-fueled consumption.


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