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The subject of the paper is the analysis of price convergence in the European Union in general and in the Central and Eastern European member states in particular. The first part of the paper is an overview of the relevant literature on price convergence serving as the theoretical foundation of the subsequent empirical analyses on comparative price levels. The second part discusses sigma convergence in the EU-27 including the old (EU-15) and the new (EU-12) member states, as well as within the Economic and Monetary Union. Conditional (weak) beta convergence in the EU-12 is also analyzed. The first conclusion of the paper is that a rather strong relationship exists between sigma convergence and the process of economic integration, more precisely between sigma convergence and the establishment of the individual stages of regional economic associations. The second conclusion is that price convergence is not a secular process; it may be impeded or accelerated by a great number of micro and macroeconomic factors.

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This study uses the Sequential Panel Selection Method (SPSM) proposed by Chortareas and Kapetanios (2009) to investigate the non-stationarity properties of real interest rates in 12 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. We are thereby able to test the validity of real interest rate parity (RIRP) among these countries. The SPSM can be used to decompose a panel of real interest rate series into two groups: a group of stationary series and a group of non-stationary series. We identify the stationary processes in the panel and demonstrate that RIRP holds for 10 of the 12 countries studied. Our findings show that real interest rate convergence among these 10 countries exhibits non-linear mean reversion toward RIRP equilibrium. The results have important policy implications for the CEE countries studied.

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The global economic and financial crisis has raised further concerns about the euro-entry criteria, in addition to other factors, such as the effective tightening of the criteria due to the enlargement of the EU from 12 to 27 members, the highly unfavourable property of business cycle dependence, the internal inconsistency of the criteria due to the structural price level convergence of Central and Eastern European countries, and the continuous violation of the criteria by euro-area members. The interest rate criterion became a highly volatile measure. Many US metropolitan areas would fail to qualify to be members of the US monetary union by applying the currently used inflation criterion to the US. It is time to reform the criteria and to strengthen their economic rationale within the legal framework of the EU treaty. A good solution would be to relate all numerical criteria to the average of the euro area and simultaneously to extend the compliance period from the currently considered one year to a longer period.

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This essay attempts to go beyond presenting the bits and pieces of still ongoing crisis management in the EU. Instead it attempts at finding the ‘red thread’ behind a series of politically improvised decisions. Our fundamental research question asks whether basic economic lessons learned in the 1970s are still valid. Namely, that a crises emanating from either structural or regulatory weaknesses cannot and should not be remedied by demand management. Our second research question is the following: Can lacking internal commitment and conviction in any member state be replaced or substituted by external pressure or formalized procedures and sanctions? Under those angles we analyze the project on establishing a fiscal and banking union in the EU, as approved by the Council in December 2012.

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Acta Oeconomica
Authors: Miklós Somai and Zsuzsánna Biedermann

This paper reviews the deeper societal and economic reasons behind the British choice of leaving the European Union. We address the detailed results of the referendum and the long-standing sceptical British attitude towards European integration; next, we analyse the net budgetary contribution that changed enormously after the Eastern Enlargement. It is argued that the rise in the immigrantnative ratio had a significant impact on employee’s pay level in certain areas, therefore pro-Brexit campaigners highlighted migration as one of the major problems arising from EU membership. Increasing income and wealth inequalities and a growing anti-elite sentiment in British society, coupled with the negative image of Brussels bureaucrats and a British approach to the rule of law that is fundamentally different from the continental one, also contributed to the final result of the referendum. Our analysis ends with a glimpse into the close future, emphasising that the future of British-EU relations depends wholly on the pragmatism and wisdom of the negotiating parties.

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This paper focuses on the roots of strain in the European Monetary Union (EMU). It argues that there is need for a thorough reform of the EU governance structure in conjunction with radical changes in the regulation and supervision of financial markets. The EMU was sub-optimal from its debut and competitiveness gaps did not diminish against the backdrop of its inadequate policy and institutional design. The euro zone crisis is not related to fiscal negligence only; over-borrowing by the private sector and poor lending by banks, as well as a one-sided monetary policy also explain this debacle. The EMU needs to complement its common monetary policy with solid fiscal/budget underpinnings. Fiscal rules and sanctions are necessary, but not sufficient. A common treasury (a federal budget) is needed in order to help the EMU absorb shocks and forestall confidence crises. A joint system of regulation and supervision of financial markets should operate. Emergency measures have to be comprehensive and acknowledge the necessity of a lender of last resort; they have to combat vicious circles. Structural reforms and EMU level policies are needed to enhance competitiveness in various countries and foster convergence.

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The protracted sovereign debt crisis within the Eurozone has given rise to new policy questions. In a paradoxical way, the dilemmas confronting the contemporary EU/EMU reformers are similar to those which Socialist planners faced 30–40 years ago. This will be illustrated by two examples: the inherent contradictions of ex ante coordination, and the difficulties in hardening the soft budget constraint mechanism. Deep and far-reaching reforms are not possible without a consensus among those experts who have the ear of the elected leaders. This condition is not fulfilled today, due to the lack of consensus on the diagnosis.

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In the late eighties, many developing countries followed the example of the most advanced countries and opened their capital account (K.A.) in an attempt to reap new gains from increased integration with the world economy. Currently, after the wave of financial and currency crises that hurt the global economy over the last decade, enthusiasm about K.A. liberalization has greatly faded. First, the relationship between development and capital account liberalization did not come out to be as solid as initially expected; second, the greater capital mobility has brought about new forms of financial instability. This paper points to some risks that might be associated with undifferentiated deregulation of international movements of capital in connection with developing economies. It argues in favor of proper sequencing: liberalization should proceed in parallel with progress when it comes to macroeconomic stability, building market competition and the creation of a sound, internal financial system. A separate section analyzes this issue in the special context of transition economies.

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The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government between 2002 and 2007 managed to accomplish unprecedented economic reforms, maintaining 8% growth and passed legislation to change Turkey into a more democratic country in line with the Copenhagen political conditions. After being rewarded with the start of accession negotiations in 2005 and an electoral landslide in 2007, AKP’s second term in office is in stark contrast with its earlier days of glory. AKP disengaged itself from the IMF agreement, and took EU reforms off the top of its agenda, bringing half a decade of political and economic reforms to a halt. The paper argues that AKP utilized the credibility of IMF and EU support to defeat its domestic rivals, but once the external incentives lessened, AKP turned inwards to consolidate its power and cared for little else. The first part of the paper explores how AKP managed to construct such a broad reform consensus and assesses the role of the external influence. The second part explores why and how this reform consensus fell apart.

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The main goal of this paper is a quantitative identification of bear market periods during the 2007–2009 global financial crisis in the case of the Visegrad Group stock markets. We analyse four countries, namely Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia and, for comparison, the US stock market. The sample period begins on May1, 2004, and ends on April 30, 2013, i.e. it includes the 2007 US subprime crisis. We use the statistical method of dividing market states into bullish and bearish markets. Our results reveal October 2007–February 2009 as the common downmarket period of the recent global financial crisis, except for Slovakia. It is instructive to formally identify crises, as it enables sensitivity analyses of various relationships and linkages among international stock markets using econometric and statistical tools, with respect to the pre-, post- and crisis periods. Moreover, we investigate the effect of increasing cross-market correlations in the crisis compared to the pre-crisis period, applying both standard contemporaneous correlations and volatility-adjusted correlation coefficients. The results confirm that accommodating heteroskedasticity is critical for detecting contagion across economies. A number of studies document that crossmarket correlations vary over time, thereby making the benefits of international portfolio choice and diversification questionable.

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