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By Francesco Giavazzi, Stefano Micossi, Marcus Miller

The ecu financial method has, considering the fact that its inception in 1979, supplied a desirable instance of coverage coordination in perform. As obstacle approximately exchange-rate instability and international fiscal imbalances has grown, either educational researchers and coverage makers have seemed to the EMS for classes approximately cooperation on a much broader scale. This quantity comprises the papers and lawsuits of a convention prepared via the Centre for monetary coverage examine in cooperation with the Banca d'Italia and the Centro Interuniversitario di Studi Teorici in line with los angeles Politica Economica. The convention introduced jointly uncommon lecturers and crucial bankers supplying a well timed precis of present examine at the ecu financial method, whereas the concluding panel dialogue presents a priceless viewpoint at the issues of policy-makers.

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Potentially more interesting than this observation is the authors' efforts to measure asymmetries between countries in the degree to which they have preserved monetary autonomy. One such indicator is the extent of sterilisation of intervention. Using quarterly data for 1979 through 1986 they find that whereas Belgium, France and Italy have on average sterilised 30-40 per cent of the net change in the foreign assets of their central banks, that proportion is 60-80 per cent in Germany. The findings confirm the image of an EMS which is asymmetric in the sense that Germany pursues a domestic monetary target and sterilises external flows that upset it in a major way, while the other EMS countries conduct policy in terms of domestic credit expansion, allowing external flows to influence domestic monetary conditions.

Five competing hypotheses can be offered for the high real rates that we observe today: (a) They might reflect primarily high levels of capital productivity. (b) They could be a reflection of low levels of world saving, in large part the result of budget deficits. (c) They might be the consequence of financial innovation and liberalisation - in short, the result of financial engineering. (d) They could be the consequence of disinflation without sufficient monetary accommodation. (e) Finally there is the argument that in any relevant sense real interest rates are not really high; nominal rates may be high, but this is a reflection of high rates of anticipated inflation.

Or else they believe that there is basically no need for a US current account balance because deficits can be financed almost indefinitely. The adjustment lag argument does not stand up to scrutiny. 7 The conclusion is that the deficit will decline over the period to 1989, but that in the end a $100 billion (and growing) deficit remains. Only if the rest of the world experiences a major spurt in demand could the gap be closed. Of course, the prospect of such a spurt is quite unlikely. The alternative is to say that the US does not really need to adjust because deficits can be financed for a very long period.

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