O artigo aborda em termos cronológicos a evolução particular de alguns indicadores económicos, nos vários Estados da zona euro (Portugal incluído), analisando em concreto (mas não só), o saldo orçamental de cada Estado e o respectivo saldo da balança de transacções correntes. Os resultados parecem muito ilustrativos e rebatem a análise monolítica de que o grande problema se explica tão somente pelos erros na política fiscal/orçamental de um grupo de Estados relapsos. O autor defende que foram os défices sucessivos de investimento nas economia periféricas da zona euro que conduziram à inevitavel fragilidade subsequente. Um excerto:
The factor that crisis countries have in common is that, without exception, they ran the largest current account deficits in the EZ [Euro Zone] during the period 2000-2007. The relationship between budget deficits and crisis is much weaker; some of the crisis countries had significant average surpluses during the years leading up to the crisis, while some of the EZ countries with large fiscal deficits did not experience crisis. This is one piece of evidence that a surge in capital flows, not budget deficits, may have been what laid the groundwork for the crisis. (…)
So… What Really Caused the Crisis?
Putting it all together, it seems that the EZ crisis is more consistent with the systemic causes view than the local causes view. In other words, while they didn’t necessarily make the right decision every time, the peripheral EZ countries were up against powerful exogenous forces – capital flow bonanzas and sudden stops – that tended to push them toward financial crisis. They were playing against a stacked deck.
It’s useful to reevaluate the macroeconomic history of peripheral Europe in light of this interpretation. Rather than large current account deficits being the result of fiscal mismanagement or excessive consumption, the current account deficits were the necessary and unavoidable counterpart to the surge in capital flows from the EZ core. Rather than above-average inflation rates and deteriorating competitiveness being signs of labor market inefficiencies or lax fiscal policies in the peripheral countries, appreciating real exchange rates were inevitable as the mechanism by which those current account deficits were effected.
The eurozone debt crisis is big enough that there’s plenty of blame to go around, and some of it certainly should go to the crisis countries themselves. But it must also be recognized that as soon as those countries adopted the euro, powerful forces were set in motion that made a financial crisis likely, and very possibly unavoidable, no matter waht the governments of the peripheral euro countries did. Irresponsible behavior by the periphery countries did not set the stage for the eurozone crisis; the common currency itself did. (…)”