Current Account Imbalances in the EMU: An Assessment of Official Policy Responses
To handle the sovereign debt crisis in general and macroeconomic imbalances in particular the leading EU institutions and the Troika (European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund) adopted two broad approaches: The short-term approach is based on enhancing the Stability and Growth Pact and to impose fiscal austerity on crisis countries. The medium to long-term strategy consists of internal devaluation via reducing wage costs. Both approaches were combined with structural adjustment programs in the spirit of the Washington Consensus. The Troika’s policy implies an asymmetric adjustment process burdening only crisis countries. It led to the shrinking of demand and output in crisis countries comparable to the Great Depression and brought the European Monetary Union to the edge of deflation. These polices must be judged as mislead increasing the risk of Japanese disease with more than one lost decade.
Key words: Current account imbalances, Euro area economic policies, Internal devaluation, Austerity.
JEL: E60, E62, F41.