The EMU Macroeconomic Policy Regime and the European Social Model

Andrew Martin
Content Type
Working Paper
Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
This paper will be a chapter in Euros and Europeans: Monetary Integration and the European Social Model, Andrew Martin and George Ross, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2004. Over time, the impact of EMU on the European social model (ESM) is likely to depend most fundamentally on its effects on unemployment. If EMU makes possible a significant reduction in unemployment, it poses no threat to the ESM. However, EMU is likely to keep unemployment at high levels. This expectation hinges on two propositions: 1) in order to bring unemployment back down after an extended period of disinflation has kept growth below its potential and unemployment high, a period of economic growth above its long-run potential – a growth spurt – is necessary, and 2), the EMU macroeconomic policy regime, as interpreted and implemented by the ECB, blocks such a growth spurt. The first part of the paper describes the policy regime, arguing that the ECB's implementation of it so far and the bank's rationale for doing so indicate an unwillingness to permit the growth spurt needed to significantly reduce unemployment. Its rationale invokes the orthodox view that monetary policy has no long run effects on growth and employment. This view is challenged by an alternative view, described in the second part. The alternative rests mainly on an empirical analysis of cases in which disinflation was and was not followed by growth spurts during the 1980s and 1990s. Showing that in the long run unemployment was lower without higher inflation where monetary policy permitted growth spurts than where it did not, this analysis suggests that the ECB's orthodoxy is fundamentally flawed and that adherence to it will perpetuate Europe's high unemployment.
Economics, Human Welfare, Politics
Political Geography