5 June 2012
The question presented
The question posed by the Wolfson Economics Prize has been defined as follows:“If member states leave the Economic and Monetary Union, what is the best way for the economicprocess to be managed to provide the soundest foundation for the future of growth and prosperityof the current membership?”In addition, six specific aspects of the broader issue have been outlined:1. The optimum monetary reconfiguration.2. Implications for sovereign debt, private savings, and domestic mortgages.3. Implications for international contracts denominated in Euro.4. The effects of the stability of the banking system.5. Approaches to transition.6. The institutional implications.Each of these aspects involves complex issues in its own right, and it is not feasible to dealcomprehensively with all aspects in a single paper. As a result, we focus our energies on what wefeel are the most important areas, especially those areas where we believe we have somethingnew to add to the process and policy debate.
The goal of our paper
The goal is to
to the problems the Eurozone is currently facing, withpolicy recommendations meant to maximise growth and prosperity while taking into accounteconomic, legal and political constraints.We seek to
move beyond a conceptual discussion
whenever possible, providing quantitativeestimates of the size of the forces actually at play. Such quantification is needed to make soundpolicy choices to the benefit of the citizens in the Eurozone and beyond.A number of important parameters needed to conduct a detailed applied macro analysis cannot beobtained through official statistics. To overcome this obstacle in the empirical analysis of Eurozonebreak-up,
we construct our own datasets,
which are presented in detail in appendices andsummarised in the main text. Specifically, we create two novel data sets:- The first data set provides a
detailed breakdown of Euro-denominated assets by legal jurisdiction
.- The second data set provides estimates of
foreign currency external liabilities for Eurozone countries following exit from the EMU
.The main aim of our paper is to address the challenges European policymakers are currentlyfacing. A serious and detailed cost-benefit analysis of various forms of break-up has so far beenmissing from the debate, and we try to fill this gap. Our concrete approach allows us to dispel themyth that any type of break-up is necessarily devastatingly costly and should be avoided by allmeans. Rather, we elaborate on how to mitigate the fall-out from single country exits and otherforms of limited break-up. Since any form of break-up, much like entry, involves ultimately politicaldecisions, we attempt to address practical methods by which policymakers and other stakeholderscan minimise the cost and disruption from the large undertaking of exit, redenomination, anddevaluation in a way that ensures a return to growth and stability.