Challenges for Europe by Hugh Stephenson (eds.)

By Hugh Stephenson (eds.)

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An expenditure-raising shock in Germany would raise aggregate demand in Germany by more than it would raise aggregate demand elsewhere in the EMS. Therefore, a tightening of Bundesbank policy strong enough to stabilize aggregate demand in Germany would, through its impact on its partners’ policies, actually reduce aggregate demand elsewhere in the EMS. Conversely, an expenditure-raising shock in another EMS country would cause the Bundesbank to tighten its monetary policy by an amount that would not be enough to stabilize aggregate demand in that other country.

And I shall explain why the euro is not likely to displace the dollar, but why that should not matter much. When Europe began moving towards monetary union in the late 1980s, economists turned to the theory of optimum currency areas – OCA theory for short – as the appropriate framework for assessing the costs and benefits of monetary union. But we did not fully appreciate the restrictive nature of the assumptions on which OCA theory was based. 1 We assumed that: ● ● ● Each country’s wages and prices were rigidly fixed in domestic currency, so that changes in nominal exchange rates would be fully reflected in real exchange rates.

I have in this lecture been fairly positive towards Europe’s social choices: its preference for a mix of leisure and income, its preference for preserved rural and urban environments over the final four percentage points of productivity potential. They seem to me perfectly natural preferences for rich societies. The measure of economic success should be income per hour worked, rather than absolute economic growth. And sensible societies may well sacrifice even some income per hour worked in favour of environmental objectives.

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