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Nobelpristagare stöder nej-sidan

Pressmeddelande   •  Sep 03, 2003 17:35 CEST

I en artikel i The Guardian skriver Joseph Stiglitz nobelpristagare i ekonomi om det vettiga i att rösta nej till EMU i Sverige. Stiglitz menar att ett medlemskap sannolikt kommer sänka tillväxten och öka arbetslösheten.

- So the UK and Sweden are right in questioning whether it will deliver better growth. Indeed, there is every reason to believe the contrary - that it will lead to slower growth and higher unemployment, skriver Stiglitz. For economies with a strong track record, such as Sweden and the UK, joining the euro offers little to gain and much to lose,

- Det här visar tydligt hur lite ja-sidan har på fötterna när de spår en fantastisk tillväxt och mindre arbetslöshet vid ett medlemskap. Istället är det mycket som talar för att det blir precis tvärtom. Verkligheten till exempel, kommenterar Jonas Sjöstedt (v).

- Stiglitz konstaterar också helt riktigt att stabilitetspakten inte fungerar och med stor säkerhet kommer att ersättas. Frågan är bara med vad? Det verkar mer och mer sannolikt att den ekonomiska krisen i EMU- området och problemen med stabilitetspakten bereder vägen för en gemensam skattepolitik vilket vore ödesdigert för den svenska välfärden, avslutar Sjöstedt.

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Jonas Sjöstedt: 070-554 15 21

Se även den bifogade artikeln av Joseph Stiglitz

Article:
The euro has failed its first test Swedes may vote no to the single currency - and with good reason

Joseph Stiglitz
Tuesday September 2, 2003
The Guardian

On September 14, Swedish voters will vote on joining the euro. A majority appear likely to vote no - a mystery to the euro's advocates. Isn't it a success, as marked by the currency's strength against the dollar? No one doubted that the euro would be accepted as a currency – in economists' jargon, that it would become an important "medium of exchange". But currencies are not ends in themselves; they are means - to stronger, more stable growth. Judged on these terms, the best that can be said for the euro is that the jury remains out; the worst, that it has failed its first test.

Growth in euroland since the euro's introduction four-and-a-half years ago has been dismal; yet the euro was supposed to enhance growth by lowering interest rates and stimulating investment - something achieved in only a few countries.

So the UK and Sweden are right in questioning whether it will deliver better growth. Indeed, there is every reason to believe the contrary - that it will lead to slower growth and higher unemployment.

Of course, the euro alone is not to be blamed for slow growth. The weak global economy, including moribund America, is part of the problem. But a good monetary system should protect an economy.

Before the euro was introduced, Eurosceptics worried that in focusing on Europe's core (Germany and France), the periphery would be disadvantaged. For example, if growth in the centre were strong but smaller countries were showing weaknesses, monetary policy would follow the centre's needs.

Few anticipated how events turned out: institutional rigidity prevented the European Central Bank (ECB) from responding to weaknesses in Europe's most important economy, Germany. Combined with the stability pact - another case of institutional rigidity that prevents effective use of fiscal policy – this has sent Europe into a major slowdown, if not a recession.

Confidence in the euro, along with mounting evidence of America's economic mismanagement, offered an opportunity for Europe to lower interest rates to stimulate growth. But by focusing on inflation, the ECB made Europe lose twice: both the lost investment that lower interest rates might have prompted, and the loss of exports and increase in imports that are sure to follow the euro's higher exchange rate.

Supporters of the euro point to the success of the US, with its single currency. But America's institutional structure differs markedly from Europe's. Labour mobility is an important part of the adjustment mechanism in the US.

In the early and mid-1990s, when cutbacks in defence expenditure led to unemployment rates of over 10% in California, many Californians migrated to find work. Moreover, the federal government could boost California's economy by redirecting expenditure to that state.

While labour mobility in Europe has grown, language and cultural barriers mean that it is far lower than in the US. And besides the common agricultural policy, expenditures at the European level are meagre.

Finally, America has steadfastly refused to tie its hands in the way that Europe has. A balanced budget amendment to the US constitution was rejected, as were attempts to change the Federal Reserve's charter, which mandates that it focus on employment and growth as well as inflation.

Exchange-rate markets can be volatile, and this uncertainty translates into higher effective borrowing costs. But such risks are far less important for countries with sound economic management and low levels of indebtedness. It is not destabilising speculation that poses the biggest threat to Sweden today, but rather poor monetary management - including an excessive focus on inflation in the manner of the ECB.

For economies with a strong track record, such as Sweden and the UK, joining the euro offers little to gain and much to lose. Today, the stability pact appears frayed. Economies such as those of Germany and France extract forbearance when they breach the pact's deficit ceiling. But small countries do not. The ECB would be unlikely to allow Sweden the wiggle room granted its larger neighbours.

Euro membership may become more attractive. The institutional framework may improve, or capital markets may become more volatile, making exchange-rate risks intolerable. But matters within euroland may also worsen. The stability pact, with its de facto separate rules for large and small countries, will almost certainly be replaced. But with what? Uncertainty about economic policy may lead to higher than necessary interest rates in euroland - and slower growth. Britain's decision to postpone euro membership makes sense. Swedes seem likely to agree.

· Joseph Stiglitz, professor of economics at Columbia University, is a Nobel prize winner and author of Globalization and Its Discontents.