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Despite its early promise, the new framework proved increasingly ineffective in keeping inflation on target as cross-border capital flows, asset bubbles and exchange rate volatility became more pronounced in the run up to the financial crisis. There was some scope to tighten fiscal policy, but this would likely have been insufficient, given the magnitude of private sector imbalances, to keep inflation on target.

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An effective restraint on bank lending was the critical missing element. Hunt suggested that Iceland was inherently vulnerable to breaching the narrow deviation bands, and the way around this was to communicate more clearly that such breaches were a reflection of underlying economic volatility and did not reflect a lack of resolve on the part of the Central Bank to bring inflation back to target. In late , at the peak of the twin banking and balance of payments crises, capital controls were adopted to prevent a further drop in the exchange rate. Inflation and inflation expectations were steadily brought down, resulting in reduced volatility of real interest rates.

Capital controls and exchange rate management likely contributed to the benign outcome. The interest in fixed exchange rates has focused on four distinct frameworks.

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The first three choices were found to be relatively less suitable for Iceland for a variety of reasons, including a potential lack of credibility, liquidity management problems, FX reserve costs, seignorage income loss and financial stability risks. The fourth choice was, and still is considered by some a viable alternative to the present arrangement.

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However, this choice is not unambiguous. OCA theory focuses on the need for adjustment in the economy to an exogenous shock, with the understanding that a floating nominal exchange rate usually results in a smaller loss of output and employment than a fixed exchange rate.

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As membership in a monetary union fixes exchange rates among its members, several conditions must be in place for an adjustment comparable to that achieved with floating exchange rates. The greater the trade and finance among the countries, the more flexible the domestic labour market and the greater the mobility of labour within the area, the greater the similarity of the economic structure and business cycles, the easier the adjustment to a shock. Agnarsson et al. However, endogenous adjustment within a currency union could bring added policy credibility and labour market flexibility.

Gudmundsson et al.

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Einarsson et al. Thorgeirsson and van den Noord find that the adjustment involving floating rates can come with non-trivial asymmetric costs and benefits. Even so, given the considerable increase in real household debt, many Icelandic households faced a solvency challenge that was probably more intense than that of their euro area counterparts, apart from Greece, which was a special case.

The amplitude of business cycles is about the same in countries with fixed and flexible exchange rates. However, inflation and exchange rate changes tend to be greater in the latter group. In sum, if asymmetric shocks to export revenues are no longer the overriding concern, membership of a monetary union would be expected to result in greater exports, lower financing costs, and higher incomes. There are costs and benefits associated with any currency arrangement, not only due to differences in reaction to external shocks, but also due to the build-up of internal instability, eventually causing internal shocks.

In this regard, significant problems became apparent for both IT in Iceland and EMU in its member countries in the prelude to and aftermath of the financial crisis. In Iceland, from the end of to early , the IT framework was accompanied by capital inflow restrictions and a more active FX market intervention policy by the Central Bank of Iceland, so as to prevent excessive volatility. A new Financial Stability Council, with a dedicated Systemic Risk Committee, aims to preserve economic and monetary stability. In the euro area, extensive reforms of the financial system and its regulation and supervision have been enacted as well.

However, the legacy of the financial crisis remains throughout the banking system in the form of bad debts. It will probably take many years to wind down these high debt levels, including the public debts needed to forestall a complete meltdown of the system. The central lesson here is that the internal build-up of instability in an economy — be it in the form of excesses in inflation or debt creation — could eventually lead to a crisis.

How this plays out, and at which stage of the build-up it occurs, depends to some extent on the exchange rate regime in place. Neither regime in and of itself can prevent such occurrence, however. For instance, the belief within the EMU, has always been that independent inflation targeting monetary policy, together with strong fiscal discipline in the form of restrictions on both public expenditure and public debt, would suffice to maintain economic stability and prevent endogenous crises.

This proved not to be the case as seen in the experience of Ireland. Will the policy mix thus augmented be sufficient to prevent future build-up of instability? The jury is still out. Even with the new Banking Union in place, credit expansion in the private sector may be insufficiently restrained as long as, for instance, the ECB is obliged to pursue expansionary monetary policy in response to inflation hovering below target.

But a bitter insight from the global crisis is that ever-increasing private sector indebtedness can be as devastating for economic stability as a rise in public indebtedness. Ideally, the fundamental source of internal imbalances should be identified and addressed. In the meantime, however, we have to live with more credible monetary and fiscal policies, as well as improved supervision and regulation.

Indeed, the view has long been prominent that credit crises are connected to some form of policy mismanagement and can be contained by the new measures taken. Granted, they have also aimed at increasing the resilience of the economy. Even so, it appears they are still dealing primarily with the symptoms of macroeconomic and associated financial imbalances. A new theory has emerged purporting to explain the causes of such endogenous imbalances and shocks. This new theory appears to shed new light on ways and means to contain such imbalances at their source, with implications for the choice of currency and related monetary policy arrangements.

In this search for the ultimate causes of instability, economic thinking outside conventional paradigms can often shed new light on age-old questions. In the following we present the research of Professor Batra, who explains the build-up of economic and financial imbalances arising from a disproportionate development in the distribution of factor incomes and that may result in a crisis.

In short, his conclusion is that aligning the trend of wages and productivity improves the performance and stability of the economy. If not, stability is endangered. Equation 1 shows the wage-productivity gap B as the quotient of labour productivity z and real wage w. He does so by elaborating the Keynesian model of aggregate demand and supply. Let unit production increase faster than unit wage income. Assuming the propensity to consume is larger in households with mainly wage income than in households with mainly capital income, 5 excess supply will emerge.

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Assuming sticky real wages, a new equilibrium will eventually be reached, albeit at lower employment. Introducing credit into the model, a new equilibrium at original employment can be reached if the decrease in consumption demand is compensated by debt-funded expenditures. Assuming this to be the case, aggregate demand and original employment are restored, and the wage-productivity gap has risen, and so have profits at a higher rate than real wages.

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