A market solution for the Euro crisis
This month the Institute of Economic Affairs (London) has published a new book with a collection of essays of different authors on the crisis of the euro, edited by Philip Booth: “The Euro- the beginning, the middle … and the end?“. In these troubled times, dominated by those who only see more fiscal centralisation as the single way to overcome the euro crisis, this book is a true rarity; as, amongst others, it has several chapters with practical proposals to foster the introduction of more monetary competition to address and finally tackle some of the major problems affecting the European Monetary Union. And yes, I said “practical” proposals because, some of the chapters of the book do contain not only a description of the benefits of having more monetary competition in order to achieve more monetary stability in the medium to the long run, but also the institutional and market arrangements needed to be implemented in the current scenario in Europe. A novelty indeed! In this regard, the proposal I support in the book (chapter 6), which consist of (1) at least the elimination of the legal tender clause and (2) the competition of the euro with the former national currencies, could be just a starting point in the right direction. Even more, we (profs. Schwartz, Cabrillo and myself) have calculated the costs of this alternative (more open) monetary regime and they are by far less than the costs we are all still paying just to maintain the current (flawed) system.
- Product and labour markets in euro-zone member states are far too rigid to respond adequately to economic shocks. The result has been high unemployment and prolonged recession in a number of euro-zone countries.
- The EU must therefore face up to the inadequacies of its policies both in terms of the long-term structural errors in policy and of the short-term management of the euro-zone crisis.
- There should not be a debt union of any form. Governments must be responsible for servicing their debts without bailouts.
- Euro-zone countries must deregulate their labour markets and reduce government spending. Decentralisation and the promotion of a market economy must be at the heart of EU policy.
- A complete and orderly break-up of the euro and a return to national currencies combined with the vigorous pursuit of free trade policies.
- The suspension of Greece, and possibly other failing euro members, from all the decision-making mechanisms of the euro. These countries could then re-establish their own national currency to run in parallel with the euro. Both would be legal tender currencies with free exchange rates. Such an approach should be part of a more general agenda for decentralisation in the EU. This proposal mirrors the “hard ecu” proposal of the UK government before the euro was adopted as a single currency.
- The enforcement of strict rules relating to government borrowing and debt that all member countries would have to meet. Member countries who did not obey the rules would not be able to take part in the decision-making mechanisms of the ECB. Furthermore, the ECB should play no part in underpinning the government debt of member countries.
- A system of liberalised free-banking within which businesses and individuals choose the currency they wish to use.”
You can find more details on the book (and the full book free online) here, at the IEA website. The book will be presented at the IEA on the 9th of May (18:30); see more details here if you wish to attend.
I hope you find it interesting to promote the discussion on these important issues. All comments on our proposal on parallel currencies for the Euro zone will be very welcome.