Vokietijos atsakomybė

LEVY instituto post-keynesistai savaitgalį organizuoja konferenciją Atėnuose. Žiūrint į dalyvių sąrašą ir pranešimų temas, renginys bus turiningas. Temų ratas - nuo Vokietijos "nuopelnų" euro krizei aptarimo, iki pasidalinimo islandiškomis "kaip mes juos pasiuntėm ir nieko neatsitiko" patirtimis.

(Konferencijoje dalyvaus ir Már Guðmundsson, Islandijos centrinio banko vadovas. Skaitys pranešimą “Iceland’s Crisis and Recovery: Are There Lessons for the Eurozone and Its Member Countries?”)

Iš LEVY blogo kopijuoju Jörg Bibow interviu - pranešimo apie Vokietijos politikos klaidas anonsą.
You have been critical of German policy. How does it really affect the rest of Europe? In what ways does it cause harm to the peripheral economies?

Yes, indeed, German policy bears foremost responsibility for the euro crises and German policy is key to Europe’s future. Germany is Europe’s largest economy. For that reason alone whatever happens in Germany inevitably significantly impacts the eurozone economy. For instance, when Germany prescribed itself an extra dose of wage repression and fiscal austerity in the early 2000s, this had rather fateful consequences for the currency union. For one thing, stagnant domestic demand in Germany constrained its euro partners’ exports to Germany. For another, stagnation in Germany provoked some degree of monetary easing from the ECB, monetary easing which was both too little for Germany but too much for the euro periphery where wages and domestic demand were thereby propelled further. In other words, Germany undermined the ECB’s “one-size-fits-all” monetary policy stance. This happened alongside cumulative divergences in intra-area competitiveness positions, current account imbalances and the corresponding buildup in foreign asset and debt positions. Together this meant that the currency union was going to face trouble as soon as those imbalances would start to unravel. I started warning of these developments in 2005, but the euro authorities were sleeping at the wheel for many years to come.

This is the background to the still unresolved euro crisis, which is primarily a balance-of-payments and banking crisis that only became a sovereign debt crisis as a consequence. Adding insult to injury, the crisis has left Germany in the driver’s seat in eurozone policymaking. Germany punches above its weight in current policy debates. Unfortunately, in misdiagnosing the true nature of the crisis, Germany’s policy prescriptions have focused on nothing but fiscal austerity and structural reform. The consequences are proving a disaster for Europe. In particular, since Germany refuses to adjust its massive external imbalance and continues to have very low inflation, the ongoing rebalancing process inside the currency union is proving deflationary for everyone else. Essentially, as average eurozone wage and price inflation has fallen to extremely low levels, euro crisis countries are forced into debt deflation. Predictably, the wreckage is truly enormous. Policies and consequences are akin to what U.S. President Hoover and German Chancellor Brüning attempted in the 1930s. As we know, this sad experiment in macro policy folly gave the U.S. FDR, the New Deal, and Social Security, while outcomes in Germany were far less benign. It is as yet unclear which path Europe will take this time; the constructive or the destructive one.

What drives then Germany’s current policy? Doesn’t its leadership recognize the danger it poses for the future of the eurozone?

Confusion, a load full of ideological baggage, and short-sighted vested interests, I suppose. Apparently the German authorities do not understand the futility of their favored policies. My reading is that they have never quite understood that Germany could only succeed with its peculiar economic model in the past because and as long as its key trading partners behaved differently. Today Germany is forcing Europe to become like Germany. The trouble is of course that not everyone can be super-competitive and run perpetual current account surpluses at the same time. Somehow the German authorities are stuck in a deep ideological hole on this issue – and they keep on digging.

If Germany continues practicing its current policies, what would be the most likely outcome? Will we head towards the dissolution of the eurozone or with the permanent two- or even three-tier Europe and with the periphery in a quasi colonial situation?

Without a fundamental U-turn in Germany policy I expect the euro experiment, which has clearly failed at this point, to end in full-blown disaster: dissolution. Germany can only run perpetual current account surpluses vis-à-vis its euro partners with fiscal transfers as their counterpart. But such a “transfer union” is precisely what Germany dreads most. Somehow the German authorities, supposedly under pressure from Germany’s powerful export lobby, have trouble seeing the inevitable link between the two. Or perhaps they have convinced themselves that, as Germany’s euro partners become just like Germany, the eurozone as a whole can from now on run up a large external imbalance. If this is the new master plan, they are kidding themselves. The U.S. Treasury has just fired a broadside at Germany for this foolish endeavor, making it very clear that repeating at the global level the very strategy which has wrecked Europe was unacceptable [plačiau apie tai - čia]. Let me add that the Germany finance ministry’s response that Germany’s seven-percent-of-GDP current account surplus was neither a problem to Europe nor the world is truly scary, once again highlighting that the German authorities are bathing themselves in delusion and denial.
Išeitis iš politinio akligatvio, autoriaus nuomone, būtų bendro iždo, aprūpinamo finansiniais resursais per obligacijų emisijas, įgalioto vykdyti stambias investicijas visoje eurozonoje, sukūrimas.
I do believe however that my Euro Treasury plan features a minimalistic but functional fiscal union that would finally put the euro on a viable track.

By the way, Germany’s role in all this is not to embark on a national fiscal expansion. Germany’s own fiscal space is actually too limited for that and, while the markets may chose to ignore this fact at their peril, Germany is actually in an extremely vulnerable position itself. What we need from Germany is to emerge from its current state of delusion and denial, and to allow and facilitate the regime reforms needed to put the euro on a viable track. Without the Euro Treasury, the “strengthened” so-called Stability and Growth Pact and the “Fiscal Compact” are nothing but the euro’s deathtrap. By contrast, the Euro Treasury to-be turns the flawed project into a viable one. Needless to say, this would be in Germany’s own national interest, while, ultimately, its current policies are not. Germany has much to gain from a viable euro regime – just as breakup of the euro would prove extremely costly to Germany.
Techniškai įmanomas planas, politiškai dar ne.

Papildymas. Žiū, visai linksma "vokiečių atsakomybės" polemika. Brussels Blog:
2013.11.11 Rehn siding with Washington in its battle with Berlin?
Over the last few weeks, the normally über-dismal science of German economic policymaking has unexpectedly become stuff of international diplomatic brinkmanship, after the US Treasury department accused Berlin of hindering eurozone and global growth by suppressing domestic demand at a time its economy is growing on the backs of foreigners buying German products overseas.

The accusation not only produced the expected counterattack in Berlin, but has become the major debating point among the economic commentariat. Our own Martin Wolf, among others, has taken the side of Washington and our friend and rival Simon Nixon over at the Wall Street Journal today has backed the Germans.

Now comes the one voice that actually can do something about it: Olli Rehn, the European Commission’s economic tsar who just made his views known in a blog post on his website. Why should Rehn’s views take precedence? Thanks to new powers given to Brussels in the wake of the eurozone crisis, he can force countries to revise their economic policies – including an oversized current account surplus – through something soporifically known as the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure.
2013.11.13 Rehn, Germany and US Treasury Dept: Round Two (Ko tie amerikonai kabinėjasi?)

OpenEurope, 2013.11.13 Reviewing Germany's surplus
Signs on this front so far show the potential for conflict. German reactions have already been quite hostile with CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt warning that, “You don't strengthen Europe by weakening Germany” and CDU General Secretary Hermann Gröhe adding, “Our export strength is the corner stone of our prosperity”. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann added that expanding Germany fiscal policy is also not the answer, saying, “The positive knock-on effects would be limited”.