The Costs and Benefits for Joining a Common Currency with Emphasis on Weaker Member States: The Pre-Crisis Debate

  • Theodore Pelagidis
  • Michael Mitsopoulos


Long before the crisis, the dominant theory of an Optimum Currency Area (OCA) was that there are necessary conditions or properties for success (Mundell 1961; McKinnon 1963; Kenen 1969). The basic premise was that the fundamental requirement for a successful currency area is wage/price flexibility and mobility of factors of production as well as harmonization of economic and political institutions. This injects sufficient flexibility in the system to hedge against the so-called “asymmetric demand shocks/disturbances”. Asymmetric shocks are demand shocks or disturbances that hit two or more regions or countries with a common currency. When shocks are asymmetric, business cycles between two countries—let us assume Greece and Germany—are de-synchronized. De-synchronization of business cycles means that Greece experiences, for example, a negative growth rate along with relatively low inflation, while Germany experiences, at the same time, a high growth that goes with low unemployment. Then, the two countries need different monetary stabilization policies. Greece needs some accommodation through decreasing interest rates in order to stimulate economic activity, while Germany needs some contraction to fight an excessive inflation rate. Then, the dilemma that the European Central Bank (ECB) faces has to do with the diversified stabilization prescriptions the two aforementioned economies require.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Pelagidis
    • 1
  • Michael Mitsopoulos
    • 2
  1. 1.NR Senior FellowBrookings InstitutionWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Hellenic Federation of EnterprisesAthensGreece

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