European Debt Crisis and Fiscal Exit Strategies
Document de travail de l'OFCE : 2010-11
The 2007-2009 financial crisis was caused by financial markets’ greed and instability. The crisis led public debts and deficits to rise substantially in developed countries. Financial markets and international institutions claim for a “fiscal exit strategy” through rapid reductions in public deficits and substantial falls in public debts owing to large public spending cuts (especially social expenditure). The article shows that the state of public finances was generally satisfactory before the crisis; the rise in deficits was needed for macroeconomic stabilisation purposes and does not signal higher future interest rates or inflation. ‘Crisis exit strategies’ should keep interest rates at low levels and government deficits, as long as they are necessary to support activity; they should question financial globalisation and macroeconomic strategies in neo-mercantilist and in liberal countries. The crisis should not be an opportunity for leading classes and European technocracies to cut social spending. Strengthening the Stability and Growth Pact would be dangerous if it deprived Member States of policy tools that were helpful in the crisis. The euro area should fight against speculation on public debts by ensuring that public debts are collectively guaranteed by the ECB and the Member States. World economic stability is not threatened by public finances imbalances, but by growing speculative financial activity.