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. (JEL codes: H10, H70, H73)

ECB, euro, fiscal federalism, fiscal policy, monetary union, optimal currency area,
ERIM Top-Core Articles
CES - IFO Economic Studies
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Bordo, M.D, Jonung, L, & Markiewicz, A. (2013). A Fiscal Union for the Euro: Some Lessons from History. CES - IFO Economic Studies, 59(3), 449–488. doi:10.1093/cesifo/ift001