30 economists and one conviction : the need for an open debate

Options for a Euro-area fiscal capacity

fiscalite_ueEurope has responded to the crisis with strengthened budgetary and macroeconomic surveillance, the creation of the European Stability Mechanism, liquidity provisioning by resilient economies and the European Central Bank and a process towards a banking union. However, a monetary union requires some form of budget for fiscal stabilisation in case of shocks, and as a backstop to the banking union.

This paper compares four quantitatively different schemes of fiscal stabilisation and proposes a new scheme based on GDP-indexed bonds. The options considered are: (i) A federal budget with unemployment and corporate taxes shifted to euro-area level; (ii) a support scheme based on deviations from potential output;(iii) an insurance scheme via which governments would issue bonds indexed to GDP, and (iv) a scheme in which access to jointly guaranteed borrowing is combined with gradual withdrawal of fiscal sovereignty.

Our comparison is based on strong assumptions. We carry out a preliminary, limited simulation of how the debt-to-GDP ratio would have developed between 2008-14 under the four schemes for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and an ‘average’ country.The schemes have varying implications in each case for debt sustainability.

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