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Real Sources of European Currency Policy: Sectoral Interests and European Monetary Integration

  • Jeffry A. Frieden
Abstract

In the thirty years before Economic and Monetary Union was achieved, European currency policies varied widely among countries and over time. In this article, I argue that the sectoral impact of regional exchange-rate arrangements, in particular their expected real effects on European trade and investment, exerted a powerful influence on the course of European monetary integration. The principal benefit of fixing European exchange rates was facilitation of cross-border trade and investment within the European Union (EU); the principal cost of fixed rates was the loss of national governments' ability to use currency policy to improve their producers' competitive position. Empirical results indeed indicate that a stronger and more stable currency was associated with greater importance of manufactured exports to the EU's hard-currency core, while depreciations were associated with an increase in the net import competition faced by the country's producers. This suggests a powerful impact of real factors related to trade and investment, and of private interests concerned about these factors, in determining national currency policies.

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International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
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