hero working papers

Workers' versus Bankers' Europe (II): Policy Externalities and Credibility in EMU

Number: 128
Year: 1998
Author(s): Laura Bottazzi (IGIER, Università Bocconi) and Paolo Manasse(IGIER, Università Bocconi and Universit Statale di Milano)

In this paper we analyze how the creation of a single currency regime changes the strategic relationship between policy makers, both within and across countries. in particular we look at the role of cross-country externalities and lack of commitment. When labor taxation is excessive, due to terms of trade externalities, the ECB may be tempted to raise inflation above the flexible exchange rate equilibrium in order to induce governments to substitute seignorage for income taxes. Therefore the equilibrium rate of inflation in EMU typically exceed the flexible exchange rate level. When the ECB cannot credibly commit to inflation, multiple equilibria may arise, where inflation is excessive and labor taxes too low (Workers Europe), or viceversa, where taxation is excessive and inflation too low(Bankers Europe). Finally, if the ECB cannot commit to a fixed scheme for redistributing seignorage, the outcome is excess inflation and suboptimal taxation. Both governments anticipate that the ECB will redistribute seignorage in favor of the country with lower tax revenue, and tend to lower tax rates accordingly.