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  • 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: Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes two claims that have been made about the Target2 payment system. The first one is that this system has been used to support unsustainable current account deficits of Southern European countries. The second one is that the large accumulation of Target2 claims by the Bundesbank represents an unacceptable risk for Germany if the eurozone were to break up. We argue that these claims are unfounded. They also lead to unnecessary fears in Germany that make a solution of the eurozone crisis more difficult. Ultimately, this fear increases the risk of a break-up of the eurozone. Or to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, what Germany should fear most is simply its own fear.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, 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
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Thomas Mayer
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: For most of the time since the early 1950s, national savings in Germany have tended to exceed national investment, resulting in a current account surplus. Most of these excess savings have been intermediated by the domestic banking system, which has had difficulties investing these German surpluses abroad given that it is prohibited by law from taking any exchange rate risk. This tended to keep the surplus within limits most of the time (less than 1- 2% of GDP). With the advent of the euro, however, German surpluses could become much larger and seem now to have become structurally engrained at 6% of GDP, or over one-quarter of savings. Since the start of the euro crisis, German private savers have repatriated their investments – effectively unloading their exposure onto the public sector as German banks have deposited hundreds of billions of euro at the Bundesbank. These funds are being lent by the ECB to banks in the euro area periphery (at 75 bps) – ensuring effectively a negative real return.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Felix Roth
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This paper analyses public support for the euro in Germany. Drawing from the results of regular Eurobarometer surveys, it finds that the ongoing financial and sovereign debt crisis has reduced support for the euro among German citizens, but not dramatically so – at least not yet. In the 1990s, the German public was sceptical towards the euro. But since the introduction of euro banknotes and coins, a clear majority of citizens supports the euro – despite the financial and sovereign debt crisis. Moreover, on average, support for the euro is at a similar level in Germany as it is elsewhere in the euro area.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Stefano Micossi, Fabrizia Peirce, Jacopo Carmassi
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: In recent weeks pressures on the euro and eurozone sovereign debtors have subsided. Buoyant growth in the global economy, increasingly benefiting also the European economy, has of course played an important role in calming financial markets. But even more important has been the perception that France and Germany are again working constructively for a strong economic Europe. More broadly, the acute turbulence in financial markets since the spring of 2010 may have finally convinced our political leaders, notably including the German political establishment, that the benefits of a stable currency far outweigh the costs that may have to be borne to make it work properly. The euro will only be trusted if the member states effectively coordinate their economic policies not only to ensure fiscal stability, but also to eliminate persistent divergences in productivity leading to unsustainable imbalances between national savings and investment (Schäuble, 2011).
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Stefano Micossi
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Some eighteen months after the first Greek rescue (May 2010), there is little doubt that the multiple attempts at crisis management in the eurozone have failed to restore confidence. Indeed, following each round of emergency measures agreed by the eurozone summits, matters have turned for the worse (see Figure 1 for the widening spreads, over the German Bund, for sovereign borrowing in the eurozone). At the time of writing, contagion has spread beyond Spain and Italy to the core sovereigns, with France close to losing its triple A rating and even Germany experiencing partial failure in a Bund auction on November 23rd. Spreads are also opening up for Austria, Belgium, Finland and even the virtuous Netherlands. Meanwhile, the banking system Europe- wide is under increasing strain, with term funding all but closed for any bank with significant exposure to distressed sovereign debtors and the interbank market close to seizing up. Deposit withdrawals have surfaced in a number of large banks from the periphery. The euro has started to weaken in foreign exchange markets, narrowing the room for a distinction between eurozone debt crisis and euro-currency crisis from which some observers were until recently drawing comfort.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Felix Roth
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The financial crisis had a significant impact on the levels of trust that citizens place in the system and its institutions. Recent data from Eurobarometer show a significant fall in confidence on the part of European citizens in the EU's institutions. For the first time since its creation, a majority of European citizens no longer trust the European Central Bank. However, confidence levels in national governments have actually risen, supporting a contrasting trend between confidence levels in European and national institutions. This decrease in confidence towards the ECB is flanked in the case of Germany by strong anti-capitalist sentiments and a sharp decline in support for the social market economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Jørgen Mortensen
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The present paper discusses the implications of the recent institutional crisis in the EU provoked by the failure of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) to impose the sanction on Germany and France provided for in the Stability and Growth Pact, along with Article 104 and the associated protocol of the Maastricht Treaty. The paper situates the debate concerning the application of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) in a broader evolution of the struggle between two schools of thought concerning macroeconomic policy–making in the European Union: the school calling for a strengthening of competences at the EU level (federal economic government) and the school arguing for preserving national competences for budgetary policy even in the face of the transfer of competence for monetary policy to the European Central Bank (ECB). The paper argues that the SGP represents an acceptable comprise between the two views of the schools in so far as it establishes rules to be respected without actually transferring competence to the Council in the field of budgetary policy. Consequently, the SGP has not and does not add to the 'democratic deficit' within the EU institutional framework. The paper argues, nevertheless, that the excessive deficit procedure (EDP) puts too strong an emphasis on the government budget deficit and suggests that emphasis on the sustainable level of public debt would ensure a stronger basis for assessing whether a given budget deficit may be considered excessive or not.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Ansgar Belke, Rainer Fehn, Neil Foster
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Anglo-Saxon countries have been successful in the 1990s concerning labour market performance compared to the former role models of Germany and Japan. This reversal in relative economic performance might be related to idiosyncracies in financial markets, with bank-based financial markets as in Germany and Japan being possibly inferior to stock-market based financial markets in turbulent times and when approaching the economic frontier. A cleavage is related to venture capital markets which are flourishing in Anglo-Saxon but not in German-type financial markets. Venture capital is crucial for financing structural change, new firms and innovations and therefore possibly also nowadays for employment growth.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Daniel Gros, Alexandr Hobza
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: What impact would a fiscal expansion in Germany have on the rest of the euro area? It has been generally suggested that it could go in either of two opposite directions, depending on the relative strength of two effects: the direct trade linkage and the financial market repercussions. A review of the results from four major macroeconomic models shows that the cross-country spillover effects of fiscal policy are indeed of uncertain sign and magnitude. Different models give quite different results if used in standardised simulations in terms of the sign, magnitude and time profile of the impact of a fiscal expansion in one member country (e.g. Germany) on other euro area countries. Fewer results are available concerning the potential spillover effects of structural policies, but they are similar to the ones concerning a budgetary stimulus: the magnitude of the spillover is small and varies across countries and over time.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Rights, International Trade and Finance, Migration, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Nuria Diez Guardia
  • Publication Date: 02-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: This report analyses the European consumer credit markets and their regulation at European level. Its findings are as follows: European consumer credit markets are characterised by deep national differences and strong market segmentation. The report finds no generalised model of consumer credit from the analysis of statistical data. An Anglo-Saxon consumer credit model cannot be identified. The weight of consumer credit is far higher in the US economy than in the EU countries, including the UK. In the US, the share of consumer loans made by banks is much lower, securitisation of consumer credit assets is very developed and the share of revolving credit is much greater than in the EU countries. Nor is it possible, on account of the large differences in the use of consumer credit observed across EU countries, to identify a European model of consumer credit. Consumer credit is very widely used in Sweden, whereas it is underdeveloped in Greece and Italy. The use of consumer credit reaches comparatively high levels in Germany and the UK and an intermediate level in France and Spain. Lending to consumers is carried out through bank intermediation, crossborder provision is non-existent.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Greece, France, Germany, Spain, Italy
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 02-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The outcome of the first round of wage negotiations in post-EMU Germany sheds some new light on the old question: What impact will the euro have on labour markets and unemployment? Economists would say that it depends on the structure of the bargaining process. In wage-setting, it seems that either one of the two extremes of full centralisation or complete fragmentation is conducive to low inflation and unemployment.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany