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PKSG Working Paper Series

Working Paper PKWP1401

The Euro crisis and contradictions of Neoliberalism in Europe

January 2014

Engelbert Stockhammer

Neoliberalism has not given rise to a sustained profit-led growth process, but to a finance-dominated accumulation regime in which growth relies either on financial bubbles and rising household debt (‘debt-driven growth’) or on net exports (‘export-driven growth’). The financial crisis that began in the market for derivatives on the US subprime mortgage market has translated into the worst recession since the 1930s. In Europe the crisis has been amplified by an economic policy architecture (the Stability and Growth Pact) that aimed at restricting the role of fiscal policy and insulating monetary policy and central banks from national governments. The crisis has thus led to a sharp economic divergence between core and peripheral countries. Contrary to the situation in the (export-driven) Germanic core of Europe, the crisis is escalating in the (debt-driven) southern countries of Europe. The paper interprets the policy regime as the outcome of national elites’ attempt to use European integration as a means to constrain nation states. The result is a policy regime that has fatally weakened nation states as regards their fiscal and monetary capacities without creating a European state.

Keywords: Euro crisis, neoliberalism, European economic policy, European integration, financial crisis, sovereign debt crisis

JEL classification: E02: Institutions and the Macroeconomy E12: General Aggregative Models: Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian E50: Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit: General E60: Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General F50: International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy: General P16: Capitalist Systems: Political Economy

Download: Working Paper PKWP1401