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Discussion Paper 139 2013.4

European Monetary Integration and Sovereign Debt Crisis




Jun Saito・Senior Research Fellow, Japan Center for Economic Research

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to have a better understanding of the reasons behind the difficulties that the euro area faced, and the problems that led to the outbreak of the sovereign debt crisis in 2010. The paper first examines the extent to which the euro area was an optimal currency area (OCA). After finding that there were too much inflexibility and rigidity to be an OCA as a whole, it goes on to discuss the reasons for not being one in spite of the fact that euro area countries were chosen on the basis of the Maastricht convergence criteria. It also discusses the existence, among the euro area countries, of ex-post pressures towards OCA, provided by market forces arising from improvement in economic opportunities, and by implementation of policies that aimed to introduce more flexibility into the euro area. Another issue that the paper focuses is the reason for the absence of pressure from the financial markets that should have provided discipline to countries with fiscal problems. Since low interest rates were a common phenomenon in industrial countries, it needs to be discussed in the context of a global change in financial structure. A number of hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the phenomenon, including the global banking glut hypothesis, are taken up and discussed. It concludes by noting the importance of a strong political will to implement structural reform even in a favorable macroeconomic environment.

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本論文は、ユーロ圏で政府債務危機が起こった理由を多面的な検討を通して明らかにしています。まず、ユーロ圏が最適通貨圏ではなかったことを確認した上で、@マーストリヒト条約の収斂基準の意味、A市場の圧力によって事後的に最適通貨圏になっていくという議論の当否、B最適通貨圏形成に向けた政策努力の成果、について検討を加えています。さらに、各国で財政状況が悪化してもマーケットが警告を発しなかったことを指摘し、ユーロ圏で長期金利が低水準で収斂した理由を、当時のグローバルな金融構造の変化に立ち戻って検討をしています。最後に、経済環境が好ましくても構造政策を遂行することの重要性を指摘し、締めくくりとしています。
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