Thursday, March 31, 2016

Need for fiscal stimulus in the eurozone

Ari Andricopoulos gives a macroeconomic commentary on Angela Merkel's austerity policies in A plan to turn the Euro from zero to hero Coppola Comment 03/31/2016:

As I've explained elsewhere, reasonably large government deficits are very important for sustainable economic growth. However, in the Eurozone this is prohibited both by the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) and by the fear of losing market confidence in the national debt. At the same time credit growth for productive investment is constrained by weak banks and Basel regulation. And the Eurozone as a whole is already running a large current account surplus; the rest of the world will not allow much more export-led growth. Helicopter money would be a solution, but politically this is a long way away. Summing up, if economic growth cannot be funded by government deficits, private sector debt, export growth or helicopter money it is very difficult to see where nominal GDP growth can come from.

In a way, this can be seen as a Prisoner’s Dilemma. Every country knows (or should know) that if all states provided fiscal stimulus, the Eurozone would benefit from more economic growth. However, for any individual state, a unilateral fiscal boost would increase their own government debt whilst giving a fair amount of the GDP growth to other states (because some of the stimulus would go to increasing imports from the other nations). And if all others provide stimulus, then it is in an individual state’s interest to take the benefit of the other states’ stimulus, and become more competitive versus the rest. [my emphasis]
And he addresses the current debt problem of southern European countries who have sovereign debt denominated in euros, not in separate national currencies:
The debt owed to the creditor nations therefore gets larger in real terms. In the end, the debts owed by the South to the North are unpayable without the Northern countries running a current account deficit and using the savings built up during the amassing of the surplus to buy goods from the South. But the Northern surpluses are only getting bigger.

On top of this, all countries in the Eurozone are committing the "original sin" of borrowing in a foreign currency. This can only be a time bomb, waiting to devastate Europe.
By all appearances, though, the eurozone will continue their current march toward a collapse of the eurozone.