Monday, January 26, 2015

Sair do euro aumentaria a competitividade grega?

Grexit: An Escape to More of the Same, por JP Koning:

While the optimists tell a good story, they blithely assume a smooth switch from the euro to the drachma. Let's run through the many difficult steps involved in de-euroization on the way to an independent monetary policy. All euro bank deposits held at Greek banks must be forcibly converted into drachma deposits, and speedily enough that a bank run is preempted as Greeks desperately try to evade the corral by moving euros to Germany. At the same time, the Bank of Greece, the nation's central bank, needs to issue new drachma bank notes, the public being induced to use these drachmas as a medium of exchange.

Now even if Greece somehow pulls these two stunts off (I'm not convinced that it can), it still hasn't guaranteed itself an independent monetary policy. To do so, the drachma ₯ must also be adopted as the unit of account by the Greek public. Not only must financial markets like the Athens Stock Exchange begin to publish stock prices in drachmas, but supermarkets must be cajoled into expressing drachma sticker prices, employees and employers need to set labour contracts in terms of drachmas, and car dealership & real estate prices need to undergo drachma-fication.

Consider what happens if drachmas begin to ciruclate as a medium of exchange but the euro remains the Greek economy's preferred accounting unit. No matter how low the drachma exchange rate goes, there can be no drachma-induced improvement in competitiveness. After all, if olive oil producers accept payment in drachmas but continue to price their goods in euros, then a lower drachma will have no effect on Greek olive oil prices, the competitiveness of Greek oil vis-à-vis , say, Turkish oil, remaining unchanged. If a Greek computer programmer continues to price their services in euros, the number of drachmas required to hire him or her will have skyrocketed, but the programmer's euro price will have remained on par with a Finnish programmer's wage.

As long as a significant portion of Greek prices are expressed in euros, Greece's monetary policy will continue to be decided in Frankfurt, not Athens. Should the ECB decide to tighten by lowering interest rates, then Greek prices will endure a painful internal deflation, despite the fact that Greece itself has formally exited the Euro and floated a new drachma.

We know that a unit of account switch (not to mention successful introduction of drachma banknotes) will be hard for Greece to pull off by looking at dollarized countries in Latin America. To cope with high inflation in the 1960s and 70s, the Latin American public informally adopted the U.S. dollar as an alternative store of value, medium of exchange, and unit of account. Even after these nations' central banks had succeeded in stabilizing their own currencies, however, dollarization proved oddly persistent. This is referred to as hysteresis in the economics literature. Economists studying dollarization suggest that network externalities are the main reason for hysteresis. When a large number of people have adopted a certain standard there are significant costs involved in switching over to a competing standard. The presence of strong memories of past inflation may also explain dollar persistence.

In trying to de-euroize, Greece would find itself in the exact same shoes as Latin American countries trying to de-dollarize. Greeks have been using the euro for 15 years now to price goods; how likely are they to rapidly switch to drachmas, especially in light of the terrible performance of the drachma relative to other currencies through most of its history? Those few Latin American countries that have successfully overcome hysteresis required years, not weeks. If Greece leaves the euro now, it could take decades for it to gain its own monetary policy. (...)

In sum, I fail to understand how Greece can ever expect to enjoy the effects of a drachma-induced recovery if the odds of drachma-fication or so low, especially given the sudden nature of a Grexit. At least if it stays part of the euro, Greece has a say in how the ECB functions thanks to the Bank of Greece's position in the ECB Governing Council. And at least Greece's inflation rate and unemployment rate will be entered into the record as official data worth considering by ECB monetary policy makers. For just as the Federal Reserve doesn't consider Panamanian data when it sets monetary policy (Panama being a fully dollarized nation), neither would the ECB care about Greek data if Greece were to leave the euro, though still be euroized.

Imagino que o principal efeito sobre a competitividade de um regresso ao dracma (que, para falar a verdade, nem sei se algum partido com representação parlamentar defende - talvez os comunistas do KKE?) seria nos salários - como o autor acima refere, as pessoas que fixam os preços dos seus produtos se calhar continuariam a usar o euro como unidade de referência; mas os assalariados, cujo valor da remuneração está fixado em contratos pré-estabelecidos, teriam o valor desses contratos alterado, por decreto, de euros para dracmas, levando a (a menos que tivessem força negocial - o que não deve ser o caso com 28% de desemprego - para obrigar os empregadores a alterarem o valor contratual) uma transferência de rendimento do trabalho para o capital.

1 comment:

Carlos Duarte said...

Caro Miguel Madeira,

Não me parece que haja muito apetite para a saída do Euro. O que há - e a escolha do parceiro de coligação indica isso - é vontade de fazer frente à Alemanha. Tendo em conta que em França a FN achou "positivo" se o Syriza ganha-se e que o ANEL é o contraparte grego da FN, não me admirava muito que Hollande fizesse outro volte-face e se tornasse mais duro com Merkel (contra o risco de se esvaziar na direcção da FN!).

Pode dar em nada, pode dar em alguma coisa. Agora é esperar para ver. Eu, que sou de "direita", vou preparar as pipocas.