employment, EMU, Europe, exchange rate, Harrod-Balassa-Samuelson effect, inflation, Macroeconomics and macroeconomic policy, monetary integration, productivity growth, CASE Reports, CASE Network Studies and Analyses

Uneven Growth in a Monetary Union: on the Possible Implications for its Slow-Growing Members


An attempt is made to explore the basic implications of differences in productivity growth rates in countries within a monetary union and tailor them to the case of the EU new member countries running up to the EMU. By using the mathematical model of Harrod-Balassa-Samuelson effect and linking productivity and relative price dynamics with monetary policy, it is shown that: 1) productivity growth in faster-growing countries (FGC) leads to either inflation there, or union-wide exchange rate appreciation, or both in certain proportions, depending on the monetary policy stance taken by the union, but does not cause increase in inflation in slower-growing countries (SGC) by itself, unless the union’s monetary authorities take pro-inflationary policy; 2) because of presence of FGC, the SGC do not become less competitive in the world, and can benefit from increased export of their goods to FGC, provided their labour markets are flexible enough; 3) the real challenge for SGC posed by FGC is not inflation, but rather loss of jobs and export revenues, if their labour markets are not flexible enough to adjust under tight union-wide monetary policy aimed at keeping the union-wide overall price level unchanged, or the labour productivity increase in FGC is not met by adequate improvement in labour productivity in SGC. It should be noted, however, that this ‘adequate improvement’ is enough to constitute only a fraction of the productivity growth in FGC.