A fiscal union for the euro: Some lessons from history

Michael D. Bordo, Lars Jonung, Agnieszka Markiewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The recent financial crisis starting in 2007-2009 is the longest and the deepest recession since the Great Depression of 1930. The crisis that originated in the US subprime mortgage markets spread and amplified through international financial markets and resulted in severe debt crises in several European countries. Events revealed that the European Union (EU) had insufficient means to halt the spiral of the European debt crisis. The aim of this study is to identify the characteristics of a robust common fiscal policy framework that could have alleviated the consequences of the recent crisis. This is done by using the political and fiscal history of five federal states: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, and the USA. Our study suggests that a fiscal union is necessary to avoid divergent fiscal policies and we identify five conditions crucial for it to function effectively: (i) a credible commitment to a no-bailout rule, (ii) a degree of revenue and expenditure independence reflecting the preferences of the voters, (iii) a well-functioning European system of transfers in times of distress, (iv) the creation of a euro bond market serviced by taxes collected by the EU government, (v) the ability to learn from and adapt to changing economic and political circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberift001
Pages (from-to)449-488
Number of pages40
JournalCESifo Economic Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


  • ECB
  • Euro
  • Fiscal federalism
  • Fiscal policy
  • Monetary union
  • Optimal currency area


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