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Policy Contribution

A European perspective on overindebtedness

The sequence of crisis and policy responses after mid-2007 was a gradual recognition of the unsustainability of the euro-area policy framework. The bank-sovereign vicious circle was first observed in 2009 and became widely acknowledged in the course of 2011 and early 2012. The most impactful initiative has been the initiation of a banking union in mid-2012, but this remains incomplete and needs strengthening.

By: and Date: September 28, 2017 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The euro-area crisis, which nearly destroyed Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 2011-12, was a result of perverse incentives and inadequate institutions. The perverse incentives included excessive implicit national guarantees of domestic banks, and a lack of clarity on what would happen in case of sovereign debt distress, which was interpreted as an implicit guarantee of euro-area sovereigns by each other. Correspondingly, Europe had no institutions that could credibly declare a bank to be failing or likely to fail, manage a bank resolution process, or manage a sovereign debt restructuring. As a consequence, in the decade before the crisis, most countries’ banking systems accumulated excessive risk on their balance sheets, and several member states also became overindebted.

The sequence of crisis and policy responses after mid-2007 was one of gradual, and generally very slow, recognition of the unsustainability of the euro-area policy framework. The bank-sovereign vicious circle, which had not been specifically identified as a potential contagion mechanism before the crisis, was first observed in 2009 and became widely acknowledged in the course of 2011 and early 2012. This vicious circle is now accepted by most observers as the central driver of the crisis during its most acute phase in 2011-12.

The policy response has developed in accordance with this evolving analysis. The most impactful initiative has been the initiation of a banking union in mid-2012, but this remains incomplete and needs strengthening. While many features of the euro-area experience are unique, the role of incentives and the gradual introduction of market discipline into the policy framework hold useful lessons for other jurisdictions.

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Blog Post

Big Macs in big countries: an update on euro area adjustment

Have prices moved in the direction of correcting real exchange rate misalignments everywhere in the euro area in recent years? Not between the largest euro-area economies, i.e. France, Germany and Italy, says evidence from the Big Mac index. However, latest trends may be working in the right direction in these countries too.

By: Konstantinos Efstathiou Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: September 20, 2018
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Policy Brief

One size does not fit all: European integration by differentiation

The need for reform of the EU is increasingly urgent. The authors of this policy brief suggest a new governance model, combining a bare-bones EU with a 'Europe of clubs'. Such reform would offer scope for broad membership without stalling the process of integration for those that wish to pursue it.

By: Maria Demertzis, Jean Pisani-Ferry, André Sapir, Thomas Wieser and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 19, 2018
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Proposals for reforming the euro area back on the agenda. An overhaul of the European fiscal rules should be on high on this agenda, because the current fiscal framework has not worked well. This column proposes substituting the numerous and complex present rules with a new, simple rule focused on limiting annual growth rate of expenditures.

By: Zsolt Darvas, Philippe Martin and Xavier Ragot Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 13, 2018
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External Publication

The EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework and some implications for CESEE countries

Bruegel scholars Zsolt Darvas and Guntram Wolff contributed to the September 2018 edition of the OeNB's Focus on European Economic Integration.

By: Zsolt Darvas and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 12, 2018
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Opinion

Should central European EU members join the euro zone?

Eurozone membership (or the use of a fixed exchange rate) was not a factor determining economic success in Central Europe. There were both good and bad macroeconomic performances in both the flexible and the fixed exchange rate regimes of Central European countries. The implication is that Central European “outs” could be economically successful both with and without the euro, yet the EU is not only about economic benefits.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 11, 2018
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Upcoming Event

Oct
23
12:30

Europe: Back to the future of a political project

This event will feature a discussion on different ideas for reforming European Governance.

Speakers: Ulrike Guerot, Adriaan Schout and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
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Blog Post

The higher yield on Italian government securities could soon be a burden for the real economy

The increase in the spread between Italian (BTP) and German (Bund) government securities is directly an additional burden for Italy public finance, and thus for tax payers. But it could soon also become a burden for the real economy, as the increased yield on Italian government securities could pull up the cost of bank loans for Italian firms, thus imparting a deflationary impact onto the economy.

By: Francesco Papadia and Inês Goncalves Raposo Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 10, 2018
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Lehman Brothers: 10 Years After

Ten years after the bankruptcy that shook the world, we review economists’ take on the lessons learned from the global financial crisis.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: September 10, 2018
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Policy Contribution

High public debt in euro-area countries: comparing Belgium and Italy

This Policy Contribution looks at the evolution of public debt in Belgium and Italy since 1990 and uses the debt dynamics equation to explain the contrasting evolution in the two countries in the run-up to the introduction of the euro, during the early years of the euro and since the beginning of the crisis, arguing that the euro could have been used also by Italy to undertake sufficiently large fiscal adjustment.

By: André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 6, 2018
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Podcast

Podcast

Backstage: Next steps towards banking and capital markets union in Europe

Bruegel senior fellow Nicolas Véron talks with Jörg Kukies, state secretary at the German finance ministry, about the next steps to the banking union project in Europe, as well as the potential challenges that lie ahead.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 4, 2018
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Opinion

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Is the time for refining recommendations and for a serious political debate on how best to overcome bottlenecks and improve the economic prospects of Italians.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 4, 2018
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Fighting fear with factfulness – and engagement

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, delivered the keynote speech at Bruegel's Annual Dinner 2018, held on 3 September 2018.

By: Margrethe Vestager Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 3, 2018
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