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FT.com: The Bundesbank has no right at all to be baffled (By Wolfgang Münchau)
The discovery of the importance of Target 2 was made by Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the Ifo economics institute in Germany, and his co-author Timo Wollmershäuser*. They found that the Target 2 balance mirrors current account imbalances since the outbreak of the crisis. There was no problem before 2007, when current account balances were funded by commercial banks. Once that stopped, national central banks took over this role. Spanish banks can now refinance themselves with no limit from the Bank of Spain. If a Spanish company buys a German product, for example, the chain of transactions goes from the buyer's Spanish bank to the Spanish central bank, which effectively creates the money for this transaction, and then sends it on to the Bundesbank, which records this transaction as a claim against the eurosystem.


One would assume that the best policies would be those that attack the root of the problem - the imbalances themselves. One of the deep causes behind this problem is, of course, Germany's persistent current account surplus. The problem can thus easily be solved through policies to encourage Germany to raise its imports relative to its exports. You need policies that provide eurozone-wide backstops to the banking sector, and also policies to insure against asymmetric shocks. And you need to harmonise many aspects of structural policy to ensure imbalances do not become entrenched.


The Target 2 debate is important because it goes to the root of the problem. But Germany's economic establishment is disingenuous. What people are really saying is that they no longer want a monetary union. They want a looser single currency regime.

See more on Weidmann and Target2 here on ET.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 05:22:04 AM EST
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