Tuesday, September 30, 2014
13

缺少集中的欧元无法生存

美国剑桥—在西班牙和希腊等欧元区国家,年轻人失业率达到了50%,这可以说是为了在覆盖彼此差异太大而根本不可能持续的多国实行单一货币而牺牲了一代人吗?如果答案是肯定的,扩大欧元区成员国范围真的有助于欧洲达到最大化经济一体化而又不必形成政治上的完全统一这一众人皆知的目标吗?

好消息是,经济研究确实对欧洲是否应该使用单一货币这一问题形成了一些成果。坏消息是,越来越明显的是,至少对于大国,货币区是非常不稳定的,除非其边界和国境线相同。不管怎样,货币联盟至少需要是一个邦联,拥有比欧洲领导人的欧元区愿景远为集中的税收和其他政策权力。

那么,如何看待诺贝尔奖获得者蒙代尔1961年的著名预言呢?蒙代尔说,国境线和货币边界并不需要大致重合。在他发表于《美国经济评论》(American Economic Review)的雄文《最优货币区理论》(A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas)中,蒙代尔指出,只要工人能在货币区内自由流动追逐工作,该货币区就可以形成一个汇率调整的均衡机制。蒙代尔将对劳动流动性的重要性的认识归功于另一位(未来)诺贝尔奖获得者米德,但也指出,米德对这一观点的解释太过严格,特别是在欧洲一体化刚刚出现萌芽的时候。

蒙代尔并未强调金融危机,但他推测劳动流动性在今日要比过去更重要。毫不奇怪,工人们正在离开欧元区危机国,但迁移目标并非一定是更坚挺的北欧地区。事实上,葡萄牙工人正在逃向繁荣的昔日殖民地,比如巴西和澳门。爱尔兰工人正在迁往加拿大、澳大利亚和美国。西班牙工人正在涌向罗马尼亚,而后者以前一直是西班牙农业劳动力的主要来源。

尽管如此,如果欧元区内部流动性能够与蒙代尔的理想状况略有相似,那么如今我们就不会看到西班牙失业率高达25%而德国失业率低至不到7%的情况。

后来的研究者开始认识到成功的货币联盟还需要其他关键要素,而这些要素在没有深度政治一体化的情况下很难实现。柯南(Peter Kenen)在20世纪60年代末指出,如果没有汇率变动作为冲击吸收器,货币联盟就需要财政转移来作为分担风险的办法。

在平常国家,国民所得税嫡系便是一个巨型地区级自动稳定器。在美国,当油价上涨时,德克萨斯州和蒙大拿州的收入会上升,这意味着该两州将向联邦预算贡献更多的税收收入,从而帮助美国的其余地区走出困境。当然,欧洲不存在大型中央税收当局,因此这一重要自动稳定器也就不存在了。

一些欧洲学者试图论证像美国那样的财政转移并不是必须的,因为从理论上说,不管你想要多大程度的风险共担,都可以通过金融市场达到。这一论断大错特错。金融市场可能非常脆弱,所提供的分担劳动收入相关风险能力几乎为零,而劳动收入是发达国家收入的最大来源。

柯南主要关心的是短期转移可以平滑周期性起伏。但是,在一个收入和发展水平差异巨大的货币联盟中,“短期”所经历的时间可能非常长。许多德国人如今正确地感受到,任何财政转移系统都有可能兑变为持久的饲管,正如上个世纪意大利北部对意大利南部的不断输血。事实上,德国统一20多年来,西德仍然看不到统一的成本什么时候才是个头。

再后来,奥布斯菲尔德(Maurice Obstfeld)指出,除了财政转移,货币联盟还需要有明确定义的最后贷款人规则。否则的话,银行挤兑和债务恐慌将会泛滥。奥布斯菲尔德构想了一个银行救助机制,但现在,显而易见的是,国家和自治地区也需要最后贷款人和破产机制。

从柯南和奥布斯菲尔德所提出的前提出发,甚至即使从蒙代尔的劳动流动性前提看,一个符合逻辑的推论是,货币联盟不可能在没有政治合法性——最有可能的形式是地区级的大选——的前提下生存。没有凝聚性的欧洲政治框架,欧洲领导人就不可能无限度地在各国间实现大规模转移。

如今,欧洲决策者经常抱怨说,要不是美国金融危机,欧元区根本不会遭殃。也许这么说并不错。但金融体系必须能够抵御冲击,即使是剧烈冲击。

欧洲也许从来都不是一个“最优”货币区,不管从什么角度看都是如此。但是,如果没有更加深远的政治和经济一体化——也许最终无法将所有当前欧元区成员国纳入进来——可能连这个十年都撑不过。

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  1. CommentedMATTHEW M

    I being just a CPA saw many years ago that a single currency based on exchange rate adjustment was a fool's folly. A common Treasury with common bond authority and a normalized taxing structure rooted in a union/confederation is the only way to structure the EU.

    Why is it just know that renowned economists are saying such?

    Why do we not see anyone talking about all the current EU control mechanisms being called out for the failures that they are? Banks loaded with bad debts due to poor credit management/business practices go to the sovereigns for bailout. Then, the nation and its taxpayers are loaded with toxic debt. Then, the larger nations bail them out, creating the cascade, contagion so feared.

    Take the recent Spain "bailout". Where is the money coming from? the ESM, which does not even exit yet. Who are the funds really going to, recapitalization of the Spanish banks. Or will the banks simply buy Spanish bonds to fund the government.

    And Italy, 20% of the EU gets set up to fail, since it must borrow above 6% but loan out to Spain at 3%????

    Where are the truth tellers?

    The real issue and answer lies in the fact that there is no such thing as free market capitalism anymore. He who took the risk, the banks, are not bearing the loss. In the Eu and in the US. And the FED and ECB and other central banks are aiding and abetting in this criminal manipulation of markets.

    A bank crisis has lead to a sovereign crisis (bankrupting whole countries) and is now headed for a continental crisis, then on to a global one.

    And again, I ask where are the dissenting voices?

    Make those who took the risks suffer the loss and consequences.

  2. CommentedElizabeth Pula

    Short term, and superficial thinking established the EU. The founding of the US union was based on lengthy, probing debate using philosophical, and longterm political principles and thoughts. Of course, it really helped that there was a lot of undeveloped and unsettled free land too. The short-term fixes have a bit of history that prove the short fixes wrong. "Coherent political framework" can not survive based on money/financial factors alone.That coherent political framework also needs some real principled foundation, whether democratic or not. And "labor-mobility criterion" only work to the advantage of certain investing and business groups regardless of effects on populations and any national, or multi-national economies.

  3. Commentedpeter fairley

    Isn't it true that labor laws in many EU countries make rigid, high pay, high benefit 'worker aristocracies' such that employers can't fire their aristocrat workers and hire cheaper immigrant workers from Portugal or anywhere else in the EU?

  4. CommentedOliver R

    It seems to me that regardless of whether or not the Euro area was an optimal currency area upon its conception, it is now too late for any country to back out. The repercussions of a Euro area breakup, although hard to calculate, would most likely be catastrophic. Southern European countries could suffer runs on their banks, forcing them to impose strict requirements on bank withdrawals, which would cripple their economies. Germany and a few other northern European economies would see their exchange rate soar due to their large current account surpluses. And then there is the extremenly difficult process of restablishing national central banks and minting national currencies.
    Although part of the reason for Mrs Merkel's current intrasigence with regards to loosening the noose of austerity surely stems from her desire to retain the support of German voters, will it not be worse for her and her party in the long run if the Euro collapses and Germany suffers as a result?

  5. CommentedHamid Rizvi

    It was a grand idea that sought to take advantage of the power of a financial union in achieving economies of scale. However, in haste the union that was to be was anything but. Any, union that that stipulates a selective set of standards without due regards to the underpinnings and fundamental social, financial and ideological requirements is but a system doomed to collapse of its own dead space.

    There, are many factors besides worker mobility and system of taxation that would need to be integrated across a dissimilar set of groups and people's. History tells us regional loyalties don't necessarily translate into a cohesive integration of any sorts let alone mere currency. It's a pontoon bridge at the mercy of the next big wave!

  6. CommentedRoman Bleifer

    The question is not whether we should sacrifice for the generation of the single currency. There are laws of development, and they are not dependent on whether we like them or not, whether we recognize them or not. The development of multi-variant. Europe can extend the integration and maintain itself as a global center of development. Europe can not do this and become a second-rate province of the world. The first path is the path of development. The second path is the path of expansion and self-destruction. Which of these paths will resolve itself europe Europeans. Europe can now provide a high standard of living due to its leading position. Turned into a province, it will be able to provide a second-rate quality of life of the province. And it will be significantly lower than that of the leading countries and regions. In making its choice, the Europeans have it all taken into account.
    So far, European integration is largely reduced to unification. Enhanced integration potrebtset transfer of certain powers of the center. This can be called some form of confederation. Europe needs to consolidate resources and efforts to solve its problems. Necessary to develop a strategy for the EU budget and turn into an instrument of development, rather than eating up. Europe needs structural reforms in the economy. ( http://crisismir.com/analiticheskie-materialy/ekonomika/54-chto-god-gryadushhij-nam-gotovit-prognoz-na-2012-god-i-ne-tolko.html )
    In Europe does not have much time to choose the path of its development. Global crisis will not give a lot of time.

  7. CommentedMichael Griffin

    Periodically, I see suggestions from different people that the EU be broken up into two or more smaller currencies. Given the observations in this article, one has to ask (non-rhetorically) what EU countries get along well enough with each other for membership in one of these currencies to work?

      CommentedMATTHEW M

      Perhaps the real reason for disintegration lies in these EU nations have always been nationalistic and at their root essentially tribal.

      Trying to unite sects, tribes, different cultures, religions, languages with people that have been at war for 1,000 years was a grand experiment that is now unraveling.

      Sharing "money" with historical enemies really is an example of utopian hubris. Thatcher warned as such.

      The question to ask is: who orchestrated the 2008 financial toxicity that will singlehandedly take down Europe (other than UK, our most favored ally, with its own currency and stronger financial system) and crimp China's ambitions?

  8. CommentedColombo Colombo

    I am surprised that such a famous economist as K. Rogoff publishes such an article.

    1. The policy of intra-European workers' flows was already applied during several years by diverse governments, in particular by the UK, officially from 2004. 70 % of the 4 million jobs created between 1994 and 2010 benefited to foreigners according to Duncan Smith (in charge of the work department). The workforce was maybe of "better quality ", but it also reveals the incapacity of the country to improve the professional skills of the working population, although the number of recipients of the "Employment and Support Allowance" (not the "job seekers'a llowance") fell from 1,76 millions to 810 000 between 1997 and 2008. On the other hand, Poland for example certainly took advantage of it and also of facilitated relocations therefore.
    In Germany, the coming of very numerous immigrants from Eastern Europe in the 1990s coincided with a continuous increase in unemployment.
    2. Declared shortages of very qualified workers led the German government in 2011 to allow in turn workers from countries admitted in 2004 without restriction. But Germany still has a rather important reserve workforce, those who alternate between mini-jobs and inactivity.
    Besides, can we imagine that flows from Southern Europe will resolve the problems of these countries ?

    2. Fiscal transfers in favour of several European countries have been very high since their integration in the EU. Spain, Greece and Portugal received for example 87,2 Mrds€ within the "structural funds" and 132,5 Mrds€ within the the European "public funds" over the period 2000-2006. The 10 countries admitted in 2004 received only 15 Mrds€ of "structural funds" and 21 Mrds€ of "public funds", but during the following period, they got a total amount of 185,5 Mrds€ of "structural funds" and 314 Mrds€ of "public funds".

    3. A more integrated political union does not thus seem necessary, in particular since the "Lisbon Treaty". The Gordian knot being the role of the ECB, Germany has actually been trying to protect itself from more integration, however accepting concessions. But what would be the most likely options if decisions were taken by the Council of Ministers with a qualified majority ? Would they be optimal ?

    4. An exchange rate policy is on the contrary required, so much more as the foreign trade is an exclusive domain of the EU, but the € seems to resist all disorders. Then how leading an optimal exchange rate policy ?

  9. CommentedAndrew Cole

    Sometimes the devil is in the detail.
    -The obstacles to freedom of movement are not simply language. There is an institutionalised apartheid in the EU with 3 or more tiers. Most East european members cannot migrate to France/Germany etc but can migrate to places like Sweden or UK.
    - The EU is not a full free trade area. Again France/Germany do not allow other EU ownership of service or energy sectors with a devastating impact on the UK.
    - There are other examples (like the location of key institutions, key personnel in them etc) here but the key point is that a group of nations are overtly cornering benefits for themselves and have broken the political probability of a democtratic union in the process.

    It begs the question does Germany want to lead a complete solution to the euro crisis when any such solution I have seen requires a reduction in the dominant German trade surplus. There is an unpleasant pattern emerging that their leadership wants to prevent a solution.

  10. CommentedKir Komrik

    Thank you for lending your voice to a much needed set of observations regarding the EU. I am dismayed that we are not learning from history and like a rookie using something like a Maastricht Treaty to try to create a political union. You can read all about this at http://wp.me/p26aPU-aX. Every ounce of experience in history tells us this cannot work. I was especially relieved by the comment:

    "At a minimum, currency unions require a confederation with far more centralized power over taxation and other policies than European leaders envision for the eurozone"

    Which is a gross understatement. After crossing the Hudson I think General Washington would have agreed. These kinds unions don't work and its elementary knowledge.

    A strong federal construction must exist in Europe for any common currency to work because:
    1.) any viable currency must have the full backing of law.
    2.) no viable currency will last in a legal framework in which symmetry does not exist.
    3.) all of the Masstricht provisions regarding centraliized economic policy are ultimately voluntary, which won't work either.

    The EU needs to act with abandon but deliberation in creating a political, federal union, which is what they should have done to start with.

    This also vindicates my numerous statements regarding the Slaughter Fallacy and how multilateralism and "disaggregated" states are no better a global governance solution than the EU is.

    You can read about this Fallacy at http://wp.me/p26aPU-ff. Global leaders need to sit down and have a nice big cup of come back from Oz and take stock of the vast experience we all have which points us to federalism, and imo, to General Federalism.

    The EU will fail if a federal legal system with federal fundamental law is not established very soon.

    - kk

  11. CommentedPascal Lieblich

    It is difficult to achieve significant labor mobility between areas where different languages are spoken. If Europe is serious about working towards greater labor mobility, maybe national authorities should start experimenting with monetary incentives for people to move from a high to a low unemployment area, in lieu of of giving those same people unemployment benefits. That could help, though I am not sure it would result in a happier society.

  12. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    Thank you for the interesting review article.
    Clearly more and more studies, articles are suggesting what looks logical even without deep economical expertise: without a stable foundation the building can easily collapse.
    There cannot exist a stable economical or financial system aiming for any kind of union without an integral, united structure below it, supporting it.
    They say economics are the representation of the relationships in between humans, thus in order for an economical system to function we have to fix human relationships first.
    One of the greatest lessons of the global crisis has been how much we have evolved into a closed, integral, interdependent network, not only in Europe, but all over the world.
    We already have an intermingled, multi level overlapped system, but we still try to ignore it.
    Our day to day lives are already globally intertwined, we consume the same products, soak in the same culture through the same media channels, connect through the same social networks over the internet, and we could continue the examples for pages.
    Our feelings of individual, national identity, the necessity of being separated, isolated is simply psychological fueled by activists, politicians seeking some personal agendas. We do not have to throw away our characteristics, traditions but above them we have to find the common ground we can conduct our global lives on.
    The sooner we accept the global, integral reality of our times, the sooner we can rebuild our global human systems to support a true economical, financial structure, supported by appropriate supra-national political structure.
    But the first step is the understanding of the reality we live in, and how we could adapt t it in a way that can provide a sustainable future for all of us. The rest is easy.

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