What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Will falling euro end up boosting Europe’s economy? – Part 2

Read the Full Transcript

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And we explore this more now with economist Jacob Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University.

    And, Ken Rogoff, let me start where our piece just ended. How bad is the overall economic situation in Europe and what is the European Central Bank going to do about it?

  • KENNETH ROGOFF, Harvard University:

    Well, growth is zero, inflation is zero, and the economy doesn't look bright from here.

    And the European Central Bank would like to stimulate the economy much more than it has. The Germans have resisted that. They're very averse to inflation. But I think things have gotten so bad that they will get overruled, and the ECB will start to look more like the Federal Reserve.

    But it's not so easy. Certainly, they face a tough road going ahead.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And, Jacob Kirkegaard, it's interesting, because that's the opposite of what the U.S. is doing, right? The Central Bank is not doing that, is not stimulating anymore.

    JACOB KIRKEGAARD, Peterson Institute for International Economics: No, I think one of the main reasons why we're seeing this movement in the currency markets is exactly that, the sort of opposite directions of monetary policies in the U.S. and in the euro area, where obviously the euro area is going to do more stimulus going forward, whereas the main debate in the Federal Reserve is when to raise interest rates, rather than begin buying sovereign bonds.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And just briefly explain, how does this European Central Bank acting that way decrease the value of the euro?

  • JACOB KIRKEGAARD:

    Well, basically, it acts as — when it starts buying any type of asset, it essentially creates more money.

    And, at the same time, you're going to have a situation where interest rates are going to remain essentially zero in the euro area, so you are going to have a yield differential. It's basically going to be more profitable to have your money and your assets in dollars, as opposed to the euro, which obviously creates these effects.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All right, so, Ken Rogoff, then we look at Greece. And, boy, we three and others talked about Greece for many years running now, and a lot of it looks very much the same. Has something new happened here?

  • KENNETH ROGOFF:

    Well, I think it is inevitable that Greece is going to rebel from the programs that it has.

    Now, let's understand they're not really paying a lot now. Now, the payments are back-loaded. But, nevertheless, having all that debt coming due even many years from now puts a pall over investment. It certainly depresses the economy. They need to make transfers to Greece. They need to write Greece's debt down.

    The problem is they realize, when they do that, they need to do it for some of the other periphery countries, Portugal, Spain, Ireland. Frankly, I think they should. I think it's inevitable. But there's incredible intransigence, not just in Germany, with writing down debt, but also in France — and France and Italy with reforming their economies.

    This is really pushing them. Every time they're pushed, they seem to do just enough to keep it going, and I think the markets are a little calmer about that than they might have been a few years ago, but they're very far from finding a solution.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Is there, Jacob Kirkegaard, a real possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone this time? Because that's also something we have also talked about over the years.

  • JACOB KIRKEGAARD:

    No. I think that the likelihood that Greece will drop out of the euro is very, very small.

    And I think, actually, if you look at the recent rumors that you also mentioned in the beginning of this segment, it's essentially, I would call it from the department of dirty political tricks, because you have an election in Greece that's basically between a narrative of fear and a narrative of anger.

    If the Greek voters are angry, they're going to vote for the opposition, but, if they're fearful about the future, they're going to vote for the current government. So what you have these anonymous German officials doing is by saying, well, maybe Greece can drop out of the euro or maybe it can't, but we don't really know, is creating more mayhem and more fear ahead of the election.

    But I don't think the likelihood that Greece is going to drop out has gone up, because the reality remains that the vast majority of Greeks wants to stay in the euro, because I think they correctly perceive that if they drop out, the situation will be even worse.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    So, as we look — Ken Rogoff, as we look at the euro dropping, there are winners and losers, right? It's not all necessarily a bad, including for Europeans. Tell us a little bit about winners and losers.

  • KENNETH ROGOFF:

    It's not a bad thing at all.

    The European company is weak. The U.S. economy is strong. In fact, it's been a puzzle that the euro hasn't dropped more over the past few years. I think it's basically a healthy development. I mean, obviously, American tourism, places in the United States that have tourists, they lose European tourists, Europe gets American tourists.

    If there's an American car manufacturer competing with a European car manufacturer, at the margin, they lose. But I wouldn't overdramatize this. Badly. Europe needs this stimulus badly. It's very helpful for the global economy. And, by the way, the oil prices falling is something good for everyone.

    So this is not all an ugly picture in Europe. Greece, yes. The euro falling, the falling oil prices, actually, it's going to give a bit of a boost to a region that badly needs it.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Do we see, Jacob Kirkegaard, much of an impact on the U.S. economy as — with a weaker Europe? We even saw today of course the big stock market dropping. Most of that is about oil prices, right?

  • JACOB KIRKEGAARD:

    Yes, I don't think the effect is going to be that big. You basically have two main sort of channels.

    One is of course slightly lower U.S. exports to Europe. And something else that will matter for some U.S. multinational companies is that the value of the profits that they derive from their large affiliates in Europe in euros be worth less in dollars.

    But, ultimately, this is not going to affect the U.S. economy very much. And, as Ken said, this is actually what we would want. We want the euro to go down to help stimulate the European economy.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Just very briefly, is there a point at which too far down is too far down, where it does get serious?

  • JACOB KIRKEGAARD:

    Yes.

    I mean, there's no doubt that you can have a situation where markets can overshoot. But, so far, in this gradual decline that we have seen vis-a-vis the dollar is, in my opinion, fully in line with economic fundamentals. And were it to drop further to, say, 110 or something like that, I also think that would be fully in line with fundamentals.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All right, Jacob Kirkegaard, Ken Rogoff, thank you both very much.

  • KENNETH ROGOFF:

    Thank you.

  • JACOB KIRKEGAARD:

    Thank you.

Listen to this Segment

The Latest