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  • Author: Tomas Hellebrandt
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Great Recession, which cost tens of millions of jobs, a collapse of asset values around the world, and threatened the global financial system, has generated renewed concern over the long-standing issue of the fairness of the distribution of wealth and income in many societies. Economic inequality has increased in the United States and many other advanced economies over the past 20 to 30 years. This trend generated less worry in the boom years, when unemployment rates were low and cheap credit enabled consumers to borrow and maintain higher standards of living, masking the impact of growing income disparity on consumption patterns and perceptions of well-being.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland
  • Author: Sebastian Plóciennik
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although the euro has survived the most severe phase of the current crisis, its future is still uncertain. The fate of the common currency will depend not only on the condition of the European economy, but also the priorities of its biggest player—Germany. So far that country has been strong enough to enforce its own vision of integration based on neoliberal reforms and austerity measures. Since the side effects of this prescription have been rising costs and risks, Berlin's new government will consider a range of different solutions, including in extremis a controlled and partial break-up of the Eurozone. For Poland, this volatility creates a challenging environment with risks, but also creates chances for Warsaw to increase its influence over the evolution of EU integration in this field.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Timo Behr, Tuomas Iso-Markku
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The outcome of the German federal elections on September 22nd will have a significant impact on the management of the on-going eurozone crisis and set the tone for the future course of European integration. Although the EU and the euro are largely absent from current electoral debates, significant differences on these issues exist both inside and between German political parties in the run-up to the September polls. However, in the absence of significant debate, fundamental decisions over the future of EU integration will be postponed until after the election, when a cross-party compromise appears more feasible. Regardless of the election outcome, the next German government is likely to prove more conciliatory on austerity policies in Europe and will boost domestic spending, but will retain some red lines on further EU integration. While the rhetoric and the pace of change might differ significantly depending on the shape that the next coalition government takes, German eurozone policies will continue to trade fiscal solidarity for structural reforms.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Juha Jokela
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Policymakers, observers and the media have referred to a vast number of divisions in crisis-torn Europe. The EU is divided between north and south or creditors and debtors. Some have emphasised the emerged division between anti-EU and pro- EU forces. Significantly, these divisions are also manifested within the eurozone, in the form of the current differences between the French and German views, and the increasing role of the populist movements in many euro countries. Yet others have highlighted the boundary between the eurozone and the rest of the EU, and suggested that the euro countries now form the core of the Union. Relatedly, some of the non-euro members are distancing themselves from the EU – most notably the UK – while many others aim to secure their influence in the Union, even if euro membership may have been put on the back burner.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Matthias Busse
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) was designed to prevent the emergence of imbalances like the large and persistent current account deficits that occurred in Spain and Ireland. But within this mechanism, a current account surplus is also viewed as a source of concern. Indeed, last year's Alert Mechanism Report (AMR), issued by the European Commission signalled an excessive current account surplus for the Netherlands and Luxembourg, while Germany just barely scraped by with a 5.9% surplus, marginally evading the 6% threshold (over a 3-year average). With the most recent report, however, Germany's status has changed. Along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, it too has now been singled out as a euro-area country with a surplus above the upper threshold.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Contagion from Greece, together with domestic political uncertainty in Italy, caused interest rates on Italian sovereign debt to spike in the second half of 2011. As shown in figure 1, the risk spread above German bunds for 10-year Italian government bonds rose from 200 basis points in early July 2011, to a range of 300 to 400 basis points after the July 21 Greek package with its new emphasis on private sector involvement. There was a second surge to the 400 to 500 basis point range in November through January, following the October 27 Greek package that insisted on a 50 percent reduction in private sector claims.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Italy
  • Author: Timo Behr, Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Germany's ambiguous role during the eurozone crisis has stoked fears that a more self-confident and dynamic Germany is threatening the political independence and economic well-being of its neighbours and will lead to a “German Europe”. German weakness, not power, is the main challenge to EU integration. In order to build a supranational EU and a “European Germany”, Germans will have to overhaul their Cold War institutions and traditions that have become a brake on EU integration. Germany's political elite continues to favour a federalist vision for the EU, but faces a somewhat more sceptical public as well as strong domestic veto players, such as the Federal Constitutional Court, which limit their pro-integrationist tendency. While Germany continues to support the use of the “Community method”, Angela Merkel has increasingly resorted to the “Union method” that places function over form and prioritizes pragmatic problem-solving to address the current crisis. Germany's uncompromising attitude towards the eurozone crisis and its sometimes erratic foreign policy are the product of its deeply embedded stability culture and instinctive pacifism, rather than a sign of growing global ambitions. European partners will have to help Germany in its indispensable leadership role by jointly formulating a vision for the European integration project and by assisting Germany in adapting its political institutions and culture.
  • Topic: Cold War, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Paul De Grauwe
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: One of the major problems of the eurozone is the divergence of the competitive positions that have built up since the early 2000s. This divergence has led to major imbalances in the eurozone where the countries that have seen their competitive positions deteriorate (mainly the so - called ' PIIGS ' – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain ) have accumulated large current account deficits and thus external indebtedness, matched by current account surpluses of the countries that have improved their competitive positions (mainly Germany).
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland
  • Author: Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Once again the European Council will meet in an emergency session at the end of June, with the eurozone economy in recession and actually plummeting in its Southern periphery. Further doubts are also growing on the sustainability of sovereign debts due to the vicious spiral of deteriorating bank balance sheets, ballooning potential liabilities from banking rescues and widening spreads on government borrowings. The sovereign debt crisis in the periphery has now turned into a fully fledged banking crisis that threatens to spread from Greece to Spain and tomorrow, who knows, to Italy, France and even Germany itself.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, France, Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The German economy is clearly slowing in the face of the latest phase of the Eurozone crisis. We expect the impact of the crisis on business investment and exports to cause the economy to contract in Q2 before recovering slowly in H2. As a result, GDP growth is now forecast to slow to 0.7% in 2012 overall from 3.1% last year, before accelerating to 1.4% in 2013.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany