Coping with Financial Crises | Latin American Answers to European Questions

While Greece is neEuro_ECBgotiating the terms of a new bailout agreement with the other members of the eurozone, the long queues at cash machines in Athens and other parts of the country remind us that Europe faces challenges reminiscent of Latin American financial crises, namely: unsustainable sovereign spreads, banking system distress, sudden stops in capital flows and growth rate collapse. We re-propose here a contribution by Eduardo A. Cavallo and Eduardo Fernandez-Arias that, drawing lessons from Latin America, suggests the need to refocus the policy debate on fundamentals: structural reform for growth and, where needed, restructuring to resolve banking crises and the debt overhang.  Latin America’s experience yields relevant policy lessons for Europe on all these fronts, tempered only by the slight exception that sharp real devaluation, which was key to spearheading recovery in Latin America, is unfeasible in the eurozone. Struggling eurozone countries are caught between a rock and a hard place, as the currency union imposes strict policy constraints while the reintroduction of national currencies under conditions of crisis would be catastrophic. Nevertheless, contemporary Europe stands a better chance of recovery because, in contrast with the Latin America experience, the European Union possesses greater avenues for international cooperation. With respect to financial support, a resourceful European Central Bank able to avoid chaotic adjustment by brute force is a decisive advantage of Europe relative to Latin America, which only had access to the weaker and less reliable IMF. Arguably, the limited nature of external support strongly contributed to the depth of Latin America’s great collapses. European cooperation can explore and exhaust alternatives to a euro exit to the benefit of all union members and, if dissolution becomes unavoidable, ensure amicable support to ease the transition. The path to success remains uncharted, however, and implementation of the necessary regional mechanisms will require innovation and political will. If the available means of cooperation are not used effectively, crisis countries in Europe may fare worse than those in Latin America.

Read the article at http://poldev.revues.org/1252.


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