Skip to main content
european map of euro banknote georgeclerk/Getty Images

The Mirage of a Global Euro

When the euro was introduced a generation ago, European leaders envisaged a common currency that would come to rival the US dollar as a second global reserve currency. That hope has failed to materialize – an outcome that European leaders would be wise to welcome.

BRUSSELS – One of the great claims made for the euro was that it would rival the US dollar as a second global reserve currency. These hopes have failed to materialize. The euro’s importance in global reserves and financial markets today is about the same as it was two decades ago, when the euro replaced the Deutsche Mark and ten other national currencies.

But hope dies last, and in this spirit the European Commission recently published a Communication entitled “Towards a stronger international role of the euro” (sic). The European Commission, like most European policymakers, takes it as given that the eurozone would benefit if the euro played a more global role. But that is not necessarily true.

One such benefit supposedly derives from the widespread use of euro banknotes outside the single-currency area. On this measure at least, the euro has been a big success. Currency in circulation has more than doubled over the last 20 years, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of eurozone GDP, and the total value of euro banknotes in circulation amounts now to €1.2 trillion ($1.3 trillion). Furthermore, it is commonly estimated that a large fraction of euro cash is used outside the eurozone.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/1IfNNbc;
  1. roubini130_GettyImages_iphonehandstealingpiggybank Getty Images

    The Great Crypto Heist

    Nouriel Roubini

    Cryptocurrencies have given rise to an entire new criminal industry, comprising unregulated offshore exchanges, paid propagandists, and an army of scammers looking to fleece retail investors. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of rampant fraud and abuse, financial regulators and law-enforcement agencies remain asleep at the wheel.

  2. ghosh11_GettyImages_thiefworldmoneybag Getty Images

    The Exploitation Time Bomb

    Jayati Ghosh

    Worsening economic inequality in recent years is largely the result of policy choices that reflect the political influence and lobbying power of the rich. There is now a self-reinforcing pattern of high profits, low investment, and rising inequality – posing a threat not only to economic growth, but also to democracy.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.