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  • Brexit and the Zealots

    A new blogpost: Un nouvel article sur le Brexit et les Zélotes:

  • Reform of the Stability Pact: political leaders simply give up

    Meeting ‘informally’ in mid-September, the Finance Ministers of the Eurozone considered reforms of the Stability Pact. They concluded that the task was too complicated, too controversial, sure to fail. Refusing to face up to the challenge is a sure way of laying ground for a future major turmoil. In 1997, shortly before the launch of the euro, Germany proposed what eventually became the Stability Pact. The proposal was directly inspired by the German federal experience but it had no chance to work in the European Union (and, anyway, it does not work well in Germany either). Yet, it was accepted without serious discussion. The view in Paris was that it was not worth a confrontation with Germany since the pact would not be respected anyway. This is indeed what happened. Beyond continuous frictions on the importance of abiding by accepted rules, the fraught pact is directly responsible for the sovereign debt crisis that erupted in 2010-12, coming close to scuttling the single currency. The consequences of bad economic policy choices rarely surface right away, but they eventually do. Even before the crisis, it had become increasingly difficult to ignore the pact’s weaknesses, a first reform was agreed in 2005. After the crisis, more reforms were agreed. Each time, the pact’s deep misconceptions were studiously set aside. Rather, the focus was to refine its strictures, mostly by adding bells and whistles. Today’s pact is extraordinarily complex et deeply bureaucratic, the result of multiple changes that aim at the symptoms, not the root causes of its failure. Am I exaggerating? For a long time, officialdom and many analysts thought so. The European Commission, in particular, staunchly defended the pact, which it was responsible for and from which it seemingly derived much authority. Not anymore. The Commission has finally accepted that the current pact is unlikely to adequately function. The recently created independent European Fiscal Board just published an official report that does not mince its words and largely validates the above criticism. The September meeting of Finance Ministers was presented with proposals by the Commission and by the European Fiscal Board. Mind you, these proposals do not challenge the fundamental architecture of the pact but, for the first time, some of its key aspects. They probably are the best that officialdom can suggest. The main suggestions aim at moving away from nitpicking about annual budgets towards a longer-term strategic appraisal, trying to combine short-term flexibility with long-term rigor. However, these proposals in effect challenge the pact’s logic, including the infamous limits of 3% for the deficits and 60% for the public debts. Were these objectives misleading? Yes. Do the new proposals stand to work better than the existing arrangements? You bet they do. Can we be sure that they will deliver fiscal discipline in each and every member country? We don’t. But for politicians, it is nigh impossible to recognize past mistakes. Risk taking (will it work 100%?) is terrifying, even if improvement is guaranteed. Anyway, they simply cannot fathom the opening of negotiations that are bound to be politically divisive and technically challenging. On the other side, they have no trouble kicking the can down the road and keeping in place an arrangement that stands to lead to yet another major crisis. This is not new, of course. This is what they did with earlier pact reforms. It delivered the sovereign debt crisis, which came about shortly after the Global Financial Crisis, itself the consequence of similar thinking. These crises delivered rising Euro-skepticism, they debased the credibility of the governing elites, which led to the current wave of populism and to the rise of extremism. Today’s politicians apparently fail to grasp the risk that they will lose power and that the survival of liberal democracies is at stake. ​ ​

  • Brexit: three overlooked facts

    The Brexit process is truly fascinating. Some new drama unfolds nearly every day. As a result, maybe, some very basic facts tend to be overlooked, probably because they would undermine the dramatically entertaining value of these events. It all seems crazy and, in a way it is, but the process is more reasonable than it looks. The first fact is that nothing much will happen on B-day, with or without a deal. As is often said, the focus of past negotiations has been on the divorce, not on future relations. This is why the deal foresees a two-year transition, to allow for negotiating future arrangements with the EU. There are zillions of decisions to be taken within the broad framework of the deal. They range from what exactly happens at the borders to the status of EU citizens working or living in the UK and of British citizens working or living in the EU and to mutual recognitions of standards for each and every good or service that will be traded. Without a deal, all of these things will also have to be negotiated, even if they is no explicitly agreed framework. Because geography implies that there will be a lot of trade and movement of people between the EU and the UK, a no-deal Brexit will require a transition period as well. During this period, little will actually change, simply because no one wants to see total disruption, even the hardest of the hard-Brexiters who still have to grasp the day-to-day implications of what they wish for. One way or another, a standstill will have to come. The second fact is that the British economy has become totally integrated into the EU economy over more than forty years. As a consequence, European laws govern everything that concerns trade within the UK and with the EU, commerce with third parties, consumer protection, anti-trust and more. The UK will have to build from scratch a new legal apparatus. British firms will have to disentangle a myriad of links with their European partners. Non-national residents will have to reorganize their lives. Even if the EU is not a perfect arrangement, it works reasonably well. This implies that it will be best for the UK to retain many of existing EU laws and for firms in the EU and in the UK to maintain much of existing links. Brexit is a huge disturbance with limited long-run practical effects. Meanwhile, firms face a massive uncertainty and postpone productive while some have relocated or downscaled their activities in the UK. Eventually post-Brexit UK will not differ much from what it now is. The third fact, which may be lost in the spectacular debates that we have seen over the last few weeks, follows from the previous observation: Brexit is impossible, or nearly so. Much has been said about the stability and pragmatism of the British democratic institutions but, all of a sudden, it seems to have become highly dysfunctional and irrational. Of course, the referendum should not have been called, or the question asked should have been better designed. So, yes, a huge mistake was made. It is worth asking how can a stable and pragmatic democracy manage an impossible task. A poorly functioning democracy would just have made Brexit happen, without second thoughts. The convulsions that we observe reveal the more or less conscious efforts of the British system to deal with the situation. Theresa May famously said that “Brexit is Brexit” but then she discovered that things are not so simple. Part of her predicament was to negotiate a reasonable deal, much more complex than what she had envisioned, but she also faced a Parliament that rejected every single proposal that she made. The inability of Parliament to come up with alternatives is often described as the ultimate proof that it is totally dysfunctional. Alternatively, it may be that it simply recognized that there is no good way of leaving the EU. Millions of citizens marched to ask for a second referendum, one where the alternatives would be well specified. The former fringe Tories who are now in power reject this natural step, but they seem overwhelmed by the resistance that they face. All of that makes a lot of sense. We do not know yet how it will all end up.

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  • Charles Wyplosz Economics and Europe

    NEW: Personal blog In English and in French Recent papers What's wrong with fiscal space? Creating a decentralized Europe Public Debt Sustainability Fiscal rules for Europe (a comment on the AEA presidential address by Blanchard) Olivier in Wonderland Recent media articles (in English) , Finanz und Wirtschaft, December 14.2021 When will central banks lift interest rates , September 9, 2020 Ever lucky dollar, Finanz und Wirtschaft - VoxEU, June 2020 So far, so good: And now don’t be afraid of moral hazard Recent media articles (in French) , Le Temps, 25 mars 2021 Livraison des vaccins: l’histoire du financement , Telos,le 23 mars 2021. L'inflation, enfin , Le Temps, 11 février 2021 Les gilets jaunes à Wall Street Le Temps, 20 janvier 2021 Le Covid et le triomphe de la Chine? Telos 8 décembre 2020 Pas d'impôts pour payer la dette Covid? ​ ​ Free on line review (I'm its Editor)

  • Blog | Charles Wyplosz

    > Thanks and see you soon Please leave this field empty. Receive notifications of new blog posts Blog ​ Economics and politics, freely ​ Version en Français ici LIST ​ ​ March 8, 2021 Finally, monetary normalization? NOT A BLOG, a about fiscal policy, January 13, 2021 debate on Jason-Summers claims , September 24, 2020 A remake of 2010? , August 3, 2020 The European Recovery Fund – Part Three , August 1, 2020 The European Recovery Fund – Part Two , July 31, 2020 The European Recovery Fund – Part One , June 9, 2020 And now? Everything is getting more complicated , May 10, 2020 The Little Red Riding Hoods from Karlsruhe , April 22, 2020 Covid-19: the long-run costs P March 19, 2020 olicy makers, please stop counting! , March 2, 2020 The good thing about coronavirus , February 13, 2020 The European Commission budget: Old show with new twists , 2020 Brexit and the Zealots, February 1 , January 23, 2020 The problem with Greta , January 21, 2019 Are central banks running out of ammunition? 6, 2020 My wish list, January , December 14, 2019 And the dollar reigns supreme , November 24, 2019 Out of my depth: Facebook and Co. , November 16, 2019 A useful global recession? September 30, 2019 Reform of the Stability Pact: political leaders simply give up, , September 11, 2019 Brexit: Three overlooked facts , August 28,2009 Bad governments matter August 21, 2019 The problem with Trump, ​

  • Research | Charles Wyplosz

    Articles are listed by topic and in reverse chronological order. Most articles can be dowloaded. EUROPE , February 2020. What's Wrong with Fiscal Space , ifo DICE Report, 3-6, August 2019. Fiscal rules for Europe March 2019 Fiscal discipline: From theory to practice , Review of World Economics 155(1), 35-41, February 2019. Limits to the independence of the ECB in: R. Beetsma and X. Debrun (eds) Independent Fiscal Councils: Watchdogs or Lapdogs? Book, CEPR, London, 2018. Fiscal Councils and Fiscal Rules: Complements or Substitutes? , (with Barry Eichengreen, Emilios Avgouleas, Miguel Poiares Maduro, Ugo Panizza, Richard Portes, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, Charles Wyplosz and Jeromin Zettelmeyer) Policy Insight 92, CEPR, London, March 2018. Independent report on the Greek official debt , In-Depth Analysis, European Parliament, 2017. A European Monetary Fund? in T. Beck and H.-H. Kotz (eds) Ordoliberalism: A German Oddity?, eBook, CEPR, London 2017. EMU and Ordoliberalism , in T.Beck and G. Underhill (eds) Quo Vadis? Identity, Policy and the Future of the European Union, Book, CEPR, London, 2017. Patches Won’t Do, Fiscal Federalism Will (with Barry Eichengreen) in: A. Bénassy-Quéré and F. Giavazzi (eds) Europe’s Political Spring, Fixing the Eurozone and Beyond, Book, CEPR, London, 2017. Europe’s fiscal conundrum , (with Silvia Sgherri) Background Paper 16-02/11, Independent Evaluation Office, IMF. The IMF’s Role in Greece in the Context of the 2010 Stand-By Arrangement , in R. Baldwin and F. Giavazzi (eds), How to Fix Europe’s Monetary Union, Rebooting Europe, CEPR, 2016. Banking Union as a Crisis Management Tool , (with Barry Eichengreen) in R. Baldwin and F. Giavazzi (eds), How to Fix Europe’s Monetary Union, Rebooting Europe, CEPR, 2016. How the Euro Crisis Was Successfully Resolved , in R. Baldwin and F. Giavazzi (eds), The Eurozone Crisis, Rebooting Europe, CEPR, 2015. The European Debt Crisis: Too Few Lessons Learned (with Pierre Pâris), Geneva Report on the World Economy Special No3, CEPR, London 2014. PADRE: Politically Acceptable Debt Restructuring in the Eurozone , European Economy Economic Papers 498, European Commission, April 2013. Europe's Quest for Fiscal Discipline Asian Economic Papers 12(3): 63-81, Fall 2013. Eurozone Crisis and the Competitiveness Legend, , in: A. Alesina and F. Giavazzi (eds) Fiscal Policy After the Crisis, Chicago University Press, 2012. Fiscal Rules: Theoretical Issues and Historical Experiences , (with Barry Eichengreen, Robert Feldman, Jürgen von Hagen and Jeffrey Liebman”, Geneva Report on the World Economy 13, CEPR, London, 2011. Public Debts: Nuts, Bolts and Worries FISCAL POLICY What's Wrong with Fiscal Space, February 2020. March 2019. Fiscal discipline: From theory to practice in: R. Beetsma and X. Debrun (eds) Independent Fiscal Councils: Watchdogs or Lapdogs? Book, CEPR, London, 2018. Fiscal Councils and Fiscal Rules: Complements or Substitutes? Review of Economics and Institutions, 2(3): 1-37, Fall 2011. Debt Sustainability Assessment: Mission Impossible, , National Institute Economic Review 217, R19-R30, 2011. Fiscal Discipline: Rules Rather than Institutions , (with Signe Krogstrup), European Economic Review54(2): 273-281, February 2010. A Common Pool Theory of Supranational Deficit Ceilings , National Institute Economic Review 191: 70-84, January 2005. Fiscal Policy: Institutions Versus Rules , (with Carlo Favero, Xavier Freixas and Torsten Persson), Monitoring the European Central Bank 2, CEPR, February 2000. One Money, Many Countries T he ECB: Safe at Any Speed? ”, (with David Begg, Paul de Grauwe, Francesco Giavazzi and Harald Uhlig), Monitoring the European Central Bank 1, CEPR, November 1998. Options for the Future Exchange Rate Policy of the EMU (with David Begg and Francesco Giavazzi), CEPR Occasional Paper No.17, 1997. , (with David Begg, Francesco Giavazzi and Jürgen von Hagen) Monitoring European Integration 7, CEPR, London, 1997. EMU: Getting the Endgame Right (with David Begg, Jean-Pierre Danthine, Vittorio Grilli, Hans Werner Sinn) in Monitoring European Integration 4, CEPR, London, November 1993. (French version in Economie Prospective Internationale, 1994). Making Sense of Subsidiarity: How Much Centralization for Europe T he Making of Monetary Union , (with David Begg, Francesco Giavazzi, Luigi Spaventa), in: Monitoring European Integration 2, CEPR, London, Oct. 1991. , (with David Begg, Jean-Pierre Danthine, Fracsceo Giavazzi), in: Monitoring European Integration 1, CEPR, London, Oct. 1990. (Also published in Hungarian in Közgazsadagi Szemle, April 1991.) The East, the Deutschmark and EMU The Two-Handed Growth Strategy for Europe: Autonomy through Flexible Cooperation (with Jacques Drèze, Charlie Bean, Francesco Giavazzi and Helmut Giersch), European Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, March 1988. (with Jeffrey Sachs), Economic Policy 2, April 1986. The Economic Consequences of President Mitterrand INTERNATIONAL FINANCE , (with José de Gregorio, Barry Eichengreen and Takatoshi Ito), Geneva Report 30, ICMB and CEPR, September 2018. IMF Reform: The Unfinished Agenda , (with Peter Kenen, Jeffrey Shafer and Nigel Wicks) Geneva Report on the World Economy 6, CEPR,London, 2004. International Economic and Financial Coordination: New Issues, New Actors, New Responses (with José de Gregorio, Barry Eichengreen and Takatoshi Ito) Geneva Reports on the World Economy 1, CEPR, London, September 1999. An Independent and Accountable IMF CENTRAL BANKING (with Andrea Fracasso and Hans Genberg) Geneva Special Report on the World Economy 2, CEPR, London, May 2003. How Do Central Banks Write? (with Alan Blinder, Charles Goodhart, Philipp Hildebrand and David Lipton) Geneva Reports on the World Economy 3, CEPR, London, September 2001. How Do Central Banks Talk? MORE COMING UP Website under construction

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