Category Archives: Economic convergence

24/2/19: Europe of Divergence: Euro and the Crisis Aftermath


A promise of economic convergence was one of the core reasons behind the creation of the Euro. At no time in the Euro area history has this promise been more important than in the years following the series of the 2008-2013 crises, primarily because the crisis has significantly adversely impacted not only the 'new member states' (who may or may not have been on the 'convergence path' prior to the crisis onset), but also the 'old member states' (who were supposed to have been on the convergence path prior to the crisis). The latter group of states is the so-called Euro periphery: Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

So have the Euro delivered convergence for these states since the end of the Euro area crises, starting with 2014? The answer is firmly 'No'.
 The chart above clearly shows that since the onset of the 'recovery', Euro area 8 states (EA12 ex-periphery) averaged a growth rate of just under 2.075 percent per annum. The 'peripheral' states growth rate averaged just 1.623 percent per annum. In simple terms, recovery in the Euro area between 2014 and 2018 has been associated with continued divergence in the EA4 states.

This is hardly surprising, as shown in the chart above. Even during the so-called 'boom' period, peripheral states average growth rates were statistically indistinguishable from those of the EA8. Which implies no meaningful evidence of convergence during the 'good times'. The picture dramatically changed starting with 2009, starting the period of severe divergence between the EA8 and EA4.

In simple terms, the idea that the common currency has been delivering on its core promise of facilitating economic convergence between the rich Euro area states and the less prosperous ones holds no water.

24/2/19: Europe of Divergence: Euro and the Crisis Aftermath


A promise of economic convergence was one of the core reasons behind the creation of the Euro. At no time in the Euro area history has this promise been more important than in the years following the series of the 2008-2013 crises, primarily because the crisis has significantly adversely impacted not only the 'new member states' (who may or may not have been on the 'convergence path' prior to the crisis onset), but also the 'old member states' (who were supposed to have been on the convergence path prior to the crisis). The latter group of states is the so-called Euro periphery: Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

So have the Euro delivered convergence for these states since the end of the Euro area crises, starting with 2014? The answer is firmly 'No'.
 The chart above clearly shows that since the onset of the 'recovery', Euro area 8 states (EA12 ex-periphery) averaged a growth rate of just under 2.075 percent per annum. The 'peripheral' states growth rate averaged just 1.623 percent per annum. In simple terms, recovery in the Euro area between 2014 and 2018 has been associated with continued divergence in the EA4 states.

This is hardly surprising, as shown in the chart above. Even during the so-called 'boom' period, peripheral states average growth rates were statistically indistinguishable from those of the EA8. Which implies no meaningful evidence of convergence during the 'good times'. The picture dramatically changed starting with 2009, starting the period of severe divergence between the EA8 and EA4.

In simple terms, the idea that the common currency has been delivering on its core promise of facilitating economic convergence between the rich Euro area states and the less prosperous ones holds no water.

5/2/19: The Myth of the Euro: Economic Convergence


The last eight years of Euro's 20 years in existence have been a disaster for the thesis of economic convergence - the idea that the common currency is a necessary condition for delivering economic growth to the 'peripheral' euro area economies in the need of 'convergence' with the more advanced economies levels of economic development.

The chart below plots annual rates of GDP growth for the original Eurozone 12 economies, broken into two groups: the more advanced EA8 economies and the so-called Club Med or the 'peripheral' economies.


It is clear from the chart that in  growth terms, using annual rates or the averages over each decade, the Euro creation did not sustain significant enough convergence of the 'peripheral' economies of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain with the EA8 more advanced economies of the original euro 12 states. Worse, since the Global Financial Crisis onset, we are witnessing a massive divergence in economic activity.

To highlight the compounding effects of these annual growth rates dynamics, consider an index of real GDP levels set at 100 for 1990 levels for both the EA8 and the 'peripheral' states:

Not only the divergence is dramatic, but the euro area 'peripheral' economies have not fully recovered from the 2008-2013 crisis, with their total real GDP sitting still 3.2 percentage points below the pre-crisis peak (attained in 2007), marking 2018 as the eleventh year of the crisis for these economies.  With Italy now in a technical recession - posting two consecutive quarters of negative growth in 3Q and 4Q 2018 based on preliminary data, and that recession accelerating (from -0.1% contraction in 3Q to -0.2% drop in 4Q) we are unlikely to see any fabled 'Euro-induced convergence' between the lower income states of the so-called Euro 'periphery' and the Euro area 8 states.

5/2/19: The Myth of the Euro: Economic Convergence


The last eight years of Euro's 20 years in existence have been a disaster for the thesis of economic convergence - the idea that the common currency is a necessary condition for delivering economic growth to the 'peripheral' euro area economies in the need of 'convergence' with the more advanced economies levels of economic development.

The chart below plots annual rates of GDP growth for the original Eurozone 12 economies, broken into two groups: the more advanced EA8 economies and the so-called Club Med or the 'peripheral' economies.


It is clear from the chart that in  growth terms, using annual rates or the averages over each decade, the Euro creation did not sustain significant enough convergence of the 'peripheral' economies of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain with the EA8 more advanced economies of the original euro 12 states. Worse, since the Global Financial Crisis onset, we are witnessing a massive divergence in economic activity.

To highlight the compounding effects of these annual growth rates dynamics, consider an index of real GDP levels set at 100 for 1990 levels for both the EA8 and the 'peripheral' states:

Not only the divergence is dramatic, but the euro area 'peripheral' economies have not fully recovered from the 2008-2013 crisis, with their total real GDP sitting still 3.2 percentage points below the pre-crisis peak (attained in 2007), marking 2018 as the eleventh year of the crisis for these economies.  With Italy now in a technical recession - posting two consecutive quarters of negative growth in 3Q and 4Q 2018 based on preliminary data, and that recession accelerating (from -0.1% contraction in 3Q to -0.2% drop in 4Q) we are unlikely to see any fabled 'Euro-induced convergence' between the lower income states of the so-called Euro 'periphery' and the Euro area 8 states.