Monday, January 9, 2012

Barro, the euro and credibility

Robert Barro, the cheerleader of dollarization and common currencies, has finally come out of the closet. No, not in that way; he just came out against the euro in his Wall Street Journal column (subscription required). He says:
"The euro was a noble experiment, but it has failed. Instead of wasting more money on expanding the system's scope and developing ever larger rescue funds, it would be better for the EU and others to think about how best to revert to a system of individual currencies."
The interesting thing is that he wants to discard the euro for all the wrong reasons. In his view, the problem is fiscal, and what the new national currencies would allow is for 'credible' fiscal adjustments. Again, in his own words:
"Worries about values of government bonds are rational because it is unclear whether—even with assistance from the center—Italy and other weak members will be able and willing to meet their long-term euro obligations. A new (or restored) system of national currencies would be more credible, because Italy should be able and willing to meet its obligations denominated in new liras."
Forget that the ECB can actually buy bonds (Italian and others), and reduce the burden of interest payments, allowing for more expansionary fiscal policy, which is what you need in a recession.

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