Acta Univ. Agric. Silvic. Mendelianae Brun. 2011, 59, 155-164
Published online 2014-07-07

Is debt restructuring needed to make the Stability and Growth Pact (more) credible?

Jens Körner

Faculty of Business and Economics, Mendel University in Brno, Zemědělská 1, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic

The emergence of the so-called PIIGS crisis which in 2009 became acute due to strongly diverging risk premiums, marked the beginning of a new phase for the European Monetary Union. Whilst the run-up to EMU had been characterized by an encouraging convergence of macroeconomic fundamentals of its member countries, it is now facing a serious threat in particular due to excessive levels of public debt. In 1997, the Stability and Growth Pact introduced a mechanism designed to prevent excessive public debt of the type currently observed; the fact of the matter, however, seems to be that levels of public debt has continuously grown from one economic cycle to the next. But the SGP apparently not only failed to fulfil its aim to keep the deficit and the debt level within its limits but also suffered from a severe loss of credibility; unless some profound action is taken it may further diminish, severely hampering the loose structure of the European Monetary Union. In order to regain some credibility, mitigate financial market’s concerns and, hence, lower borrowing cost, a consolidation path is needed to returns to acceptable levels of debt in the foreseeable future. This process has already started and measures have been taken by several eurozone countries to speed up fiscal consolidation. The aim of the paper is to analyze whether or not the group of the PIIGS countries are likely to return to debt levels in accordance with the SGP criteria or if it might be necessary to undergo a process of debt restructuring or default. By analysing different scenarios where nominal interest rates on debt (r) and nominal growth rates (n) as well as gaps thereof (r-n), herein called the automatic debt dynamics, are varied, this paper comes to the conclusion, that debt restructuring or default is a likely outcome for some of the PIIGS; arithmetics is in particular playing against Greece. As disillusioning and disappointing this outcome might be for some observers, it could be the starting point for a more credible set of rules for the SGP, which the author deems to remain a crucial component in any institutional set-up within the eurozone.


5 live references