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  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The financial crisis has forced a reappraisal of the regulatory architecture, globally and in the EU and its member states. Around the world, policymakers are proposing significant changes to rules governing the financial sector, with the goal of making the financial system more resilient. Given the large and visible costs of financial instability for Europe, it is natural for European policymakers to make the avoidance of financial crises a high priority. But it is also important to recognise that regulation carries a range of costs that can dilute the economic benefits of a competitive and dynamic financial services sector. The academic literature has robustly established that financial development is not only the consequence of economic growth but also a driver. If the EU is to achieve the ambitious goals for unleashing private enterprise and creating jobs set out within the Europe 2020 agenda, then it cannot afford to overlook the role of the financial system in fostering innovation and growth. As supervisory authorities consider a broad set of proposals to strengthen the regulatory infrastructure, a n important quest ion that arises is how to assess the aggregate impact of these various measures. Although each may look sensible in isolation, they could still impose a larger - than - expected burden on the financial system when take n in the aggregate. The focus of policy reforms should be on forcing financial institutions to internalise the social costs of their risk - taking decisions rather than suppressing financial innovation. Credible policies to allow the failure of financial institutions would encourage market monitoring of risk - taking, reducing the need for additional prudential regulation and minimising costs to the taxpayer in the event of bankruptcy. Policymakers should aim to put in place an objective, sustainable and flexible regulatory regime, as the design of the regulatory framework will play a significant role in the future development of both the financial industry and the wider economy. International consistency in the regulatory reform agenda is also important so as not to risk fragmentation of global capital markets, which bring significant economic benefits to companies and consumers alike. The economic and social purpose of financial markets is the efficient allocation of capital, and the regulatory agenda must be framed around this goal. At a time when the European economy is struggling to recover lost ground, changes to the regulatory regime should not unduly restrict the potential of the financial sector to contribute to the continents future prosperity.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Ten years after the introduction of the euro, the onset of deep recession in the Eurozone has triggered concern that the single currency might impose intolerable strains upon some members. With some countries hit hard by the impact of the credit crunch, there are mounting concerns about a possible debt default by one or more member states, which in turn might threaten the euro and even the existence of the Eurozone. With the Eurozone economy forecast to contract by 3.1% this year, unemployment is starting to climb steeply and fiscal deficits are soaring. This has raised concerns about deteriorating public finances in a number of countries, leading to sharply wider spreads on government bonds and credit rating downgrades for Greece, Spain and Portugal, with Ireland maybe facing a similar fate soon. And repercussions from the growing economic crisis in Central and Eastern Europe are adding to the problem, with Austria particularly exposed. Rising bond spreads were always intended to be the mechanism that would restrain public spending by more profligate Eurozone countries. But the question now is whether the weaker economies can withstand the strains that a lengthy period of recession will impose and, at the same time, adopt credible medium-term spending plans to ward off the worst of the downturn and retain market confidence. With fiscal deficits already rising as a result of bank bailouts, fiscal packages and recession will push budget deficits far above the 3% of GDP target – Ireland, facing a deficit of 12% of GDP, and Spain will be worst hit. And with rising deficits and higher bond spreads pushing up the cost of debt, countries face a sharp rise in their level of indebtedness, with Greece and Italy seeing debt/GDP ratios around 100%. This deterioration could lead to a further downward spiral if the recession is prolonged and will be a test of countries' euro commitment, which has remained strong thus far despite rising social tensions in some countries. At this stage, the problems remain manageable and the risk of default or of countries leaving the euro is still very low. Bond spreads are still much lower than during much of the 1990s, when countries were striving to qualify for euro membership, and the currency risks attached to leaving the euro would be substantial. Moreover, EU countries that have been exposed to considerable currency strain over the past year are anxious to join the Eurozone as soon as possible, to take advantage of the benefits of a stable currency. While some smaller countries may experience financial difficulties, it seems inevitable that the larger Eurozone members would step in to stabilise the situation – failure to do so would risk contagion spreading to other countries, which in turn would cause even deeper problems for the euro. More policy action also seems likely to counter this threat – although the German government will probably remain reluctant to countenance the scale of expansionary fiscal policy really needed at this time. Current policies inevitably mean a long hard slog back towards fiscal rectitude in the years ahead, with monetary policy also tightening and growth slower than previously expected. Fiscal federalism may also have to be on the agenda. All this will undoubtedly lead to ongoing strains within the Eurozone. And any measures by governments that appear to be protectionist – such as the support for the French car industry – will only fuel these tensions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Ports are vital for the health of the UK economy and the movement of its population. They are gateways into the UK for trade and travel. Over 95% of UK imports and exports by volume and 75% by value pass through the country's ports. In terms of tonnage handled, the UK ports sector is the largest in Europe. In 2007, UK ports handled 580 million tonnes of freight. In 2007, 24.8 million international sea passengers went through UK ports. Nearly three quarters of journeys were to France. Another 14 per cent were to the Republic of Ireland. In 2007, 24.2 million domestic sea passengers traveled between ports in the UK. Sea crossings comprised 4.0 million of these journeys. Inter island journeys the remaining 20.2 million. Of which 10.7 million trips were between Hampshire and Isle of Wight and 8.0 million between the Scottish islands.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Business for New Europe has requested Oxford Economics to undertake a study detailing the economic ties between the UK and the rest of the European Union (EU), and where possible, quantify them according to a number of parameters such as trade, labour force, tourism, FDI, portfolio investments and banking linkages. In the context of the current economic situation, there is a growing need for increased economic integration and cooperation between partner countries. Therefore, it is particularly relevant to review the importance of the economic links between the UK and the rest of the EU. These inter-relations have come to the fore since the outbreak of the financial crisis. Analysing the impact of the credit crunch on UK-EU relations is not within the scope of this report.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe