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P. Canofari, G. Di Bartolomeo and M. Messori: Sovereign debt crisis, fiscal consolidation, and active central bankers in a monetary union

In this paper we examine global financial instability and its impact on the sovereign debts of peripheral countries in a stylized model of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), where centralized and national policy authorities strategically interact. We show that active monetary policies might operate as indirect risk-sharing mechanisms that improve EMU stability and the welfare of (a part of the) member states. The European Central Bank (ECB) partially internalizes the fact that the monetary union’s stability is a public good by reallocating a part of the cost of stabilizing the EMU from the periphery to the core countries. In this respect, unconventional monetary policies such as ‘quantitative easing’ are more effective than traditional monetary policies centered on ex-post interest rate adjustments. The rationale of our findings is that unconventional monetary policies decrease the cost of fiscal interventions in the peripheral countries and incentivize the consolidation of their public balance sheets; these same unconventional policies produce positive externalities but also come at a cost for central countries.

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