The policy discussion on euro area reform has entered a critical phase. This column, part of the VoxEU debate on euro area reform, attempts a ‘what if’ experiment based on the proposals in the recent CEPR Policy Insight. Focusing on the Greek case, it looks at the counterfactual case of such proposals having already been implemented at the outset of the crisis and examines their potential role in preventing the outbreak of the crisis or mitigating it once it was underway.
The European economy is recovering, and banks are thinking once more about mergers. This column demonstrates that, while cross-border mergers have been predicted before, most European bank mergers have consistently been domestic. Regulatory hurdles and relatively low concentration in some of the countries of Europe suggest this may continue.
When the poorest gain, the lower bound, or ‘floor’, of the distribution of living standards rises. Using microdata spanning the last 30 years, this column argues that the floor in the US has been sinking, alongside rising top incomes. The floor would have fallen further without public spending on food stamps, which helped protect the poorest in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
The authors of the recent CEPR Policy Insight argue that the euro area needs an alternative to the current system of fiscal rules and financial penalties to discipline fiscally wayward members. This column, part of the VoxEU debate on euro area reform, argues that by not complementing their proposals with recommendations in the monetary realm, the authors have missed an opportunity to provide a balanced reform package that would not only increase fiscal discipline and risk sharing, but also enhance liquidity provision.
Vast inequalities exist within societies as well as across nations. This column uses a new dataset to show that preferences vary substantially across and within societies, and that these differences are related to differences in economic outcomes at the individual and aggregate levels. The findings suggest that institutional reform should take into account how institutions may interact with preference differences.
While the effect of Brexit on trade between the UK and the remaining EU member states has received considerable attention, to date little work has considered the issue of non-tariff barriers. This column explores how increased documentary compliance and border delays will affect EU members’ exports to the UK. Time-sensitive goods are found to be most at risk of suffering from increases in non-tariff barriers. Based on current trade composition, Latvia, Ireland, and Denmark are the trading partners that will be most affected.
Trade liberalisation is expected to have ushered in an era of increased globalisation. This column uses a measure of overall trade protection comprising tariff-equivalent non-tariff measures and tariffs to examine whether protectionism has fallen or increased over the past two decades. The results suggest that overall protection levels have not decreased despite tariff liberalisation, as non-tariff measures have proliferated both across sectors and countries. These measures are now the main source of trade protection.
Are cryptocurrencies the future of money, Ponzi schemes, speculators’ dreams, or just a prosperity gospel? While there is money to be made in the short run, this column argues that cryptocurrencies are lousy investments and will eventually reach a price of zero.
The rise in global debt has continued unabated following the Global Crisis. This column argues that elevated debt levels will continue to put downward pressure on equilibrium interest rates across the world’s major economies, constraining central bank efforts to normalise rates and supporting the thesis that global equilibrium interest rates have fallen.