Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Capital Flow Explanation For The Economic Woes in Eurozone

Economic growth in the EZ may pick up due to the policies of the ECB which has caused the euro to depreciate and lower the price EZ exports.  The Financial Times does not believe that the EZ can export its way out of its slump.  It argues capital flows from the North to the South created the problems in EZ and that they can't be solved without debt forgiveness.  Furthermore, many believe that irresponsible government borrowing caused the problem and that they must pay the price for their irresponsibility.  They don't believe that irresponsible lenders bear some of the responsibility for the wasteful borrowing.  That moral outlook will make it difficult to shift some of the pain away from the debtors to the lenders.

The flow of capital from Germany to Spain, for example, was not good for either nation.  Germany was able to grow by shifting its current account from a deficit in the 90's to a surplus in the 2000's.  It accomplished this by restraining wage growth.  Its savings flowed to countries like Spain; they were not invested in productivity enhancing capital. German productivity growth has been relatively low as a result, and the recipients of the capital in the South over invested in real estate and low productivity construction jobs.  There was more cheap financing available than productive investment opportunities.

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