The 2010–2012 euro crisis prompted a wave of institutional reforms in the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and one of the most remarkable changes was the creation of a permanent bailout facility for troubled sovereigns. The birth of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in 2012 was preceded by harsh debates, reflecting a conflict between a German view of country-level responsibility and French-Italian calls for more risk sharing. These tensions have remained ever since, which was also highlighted by conflicts regarding the ESMs overhaul at the end of 2019. Concerns of Italy then drew attention to the fact that a wide range of issues prevented the community from finalizing the post-crisis structure of the eurozone. This paper focuses on the evolution of the EMU financial assistance framework up until the latest efforts for its reform. We analyse the impact of related policy announcements on changes in sovereign bond yields of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland (i.e. the most vulnerable countries during the euro crisis). Our findings show that news on bailout arrangements significantly contributed to a contemporaneous moderation of periphery bond yields, especially in the case of shorter maturities. This result hints at the role of common facilities in supporting financial stability. To enhance this feature, a ‘package approach’ (i.e. multiple reforms together, as stressed by Italy) may well need to be considered. Such a broad perspective can help strengthen the euro area once the acute threat of the coronavirus pandemic is averted.
We investigate the relationship between economic growth and real exchange rate (RER) misalignments within the European Union (EU) during the period of 1995–2016. In addition to the relative price level of GDP, we quantify an alternative indicator for the RER: the internal relative price of services to goods. We interpret RER misalignments as deviations from the levels consistent with the levels of economic development among the EU countries. Using pooled OLS and dynamic panel techniques, we find that within the EU over- (under-) valuations are associated with lower (higher) growth. This is mainly due to developments in the countries operating under the fixed exchange rate regimes. Our results indicate that the level of development does not influence the strength of the growth-misalignment relationship within the EU. Regarding the price level of GDP, we find that the positive relationship between undervaluation and growth diminishes with the degree of undervaluation. We find that overvaluation has a statistically significant negative effect on export market shares and private investments, indicating that both the competitiveness and the investment channels play a role in the relationship between growth and RER misalignments. As an extension, we show that the effects of “wage misalignments” from levels consistent with productivity are also negatively related to economic growth. The policy implications of the analysis point to the importance of a growth strategy avoiding overvaluation on the one hand, and to the futility of aiming at excessive undervaluation, on the other.
The euro crisis and its lessons are still not a closed chapter for economists and policy makers. The challenge to find the most appropriate ways to prevent intra-area imbalances is still on the top of the agenda. Nominal adjustment (internal devaluation) remains one of the most critical aspects of this debate. Many are indeed interested in whether austerity measures in several countries “made sense.” But much more is at stake here than evaluating the past. The true question is whether the eurozone can rely on nominal adjustment to align internal economic fluctuations. This paper contributes to the answer by investigating the size of price changes and their impacts on output and trade in the wake of the euro crisis. Selecting the most appropriate variables to measure competitive outcomes, the basic idea of “expansionary contraction” is tested. We rely on a comprehensive panel of all Eurozone member states in the post-crisis years (2010–2017). The results suggest that flexible price levels cannot be taken for granted, and a link to competitiveness is not self-evident, either. Other channels of adjustment may prove to be more important, but scaling them up will ultimately require a sound consensus on the future architecture of the euro.