An Analysis of Economic Imbalances in Selected Euro-Area Countries Based on the IS-LM-BP Model Framework
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Publication date: 2016-04-30
GNPJE 2016;282(2):25-57
This article examines the problem of economic imbalances in selected small economies in the euro area, specifically Greece, Portugal and Ireland. The analysis also covers Spain and is for a period before and after the introduction of the single European currency. These four countries have been hit particularly hard by the “2008+” crisis. In this article, three imbalances are subject to detailed analysis: an external imbalance in the sense of the current-account deficit, an external imbalance in monetary terms understood as the overall balance-of-payments deficit, and an internal imbalance based on excessive unemployment. These imbalances are modeled by means of an extended version of the IS-LM-BP (Mundell-Fleming) model. The model has been extended by introducing the current-account balance and the potential product line denoting the output level achieved by an economy running at its optimal employment level. The economic situation of the four studied countries is presented against those of Italy, Germany and the euro area (EA-12) as a whole based on Eurostat data and European Commission analyses. The conclusion from the model analysis is that by abandoning its own currency, a small economy in a state of economic imbalance has little room for maneuver in pursuing its own macroeconomic policy. The use of an expansionary fiscal policy aimed at reducing excessive unemployment leads to an increased current-account deficit. Another significant limitation in macroeconomic policy is the inability to use exchange rate policy to support the international competitiveness of the economy. In fact, the four eurozone countries hardest hit by the crisis were forced to use a mechanism of internal devaluation because they were unable to resort to a nominal devaluation of the common currency. The internal devaluation mechanism, however, may be only used temporarily due to its negative public perception (political restrictions). The conclusion is that a country joining the monetary union should pay particular attention to maintaining macroeconomic balances both before entering the union and after adopting the common currency.
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