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Cohesive Growth in the Enlarging Euroland: Patterns, Problems and Policies. A Summarising Essay
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Michael Dauderstädt *
*[Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, International Policy Analysis Unit]
Two major changes will affect the future pattern of growth and cohesion in Europe:
The success of this on-going unification of Europe will depend crucially on a more equitable distribution of prosperity. Continued underdevelopment and poverty in the regions of the periphery would not only threaten the stability of the local society and polity but would spill over into the core regions of Europe through migration and the supply of badly regulated locations for economic and extra-economic activities including organised crime. A sustained and large supply of cheap and even desperate labour within an integrated Europe requires adjustments within the core societies that might endanger the social cohesion not only of the EU as such but within the national welfare states. In the end, integration itself will look increasingly undesirable.
Such threats might lead to demands for limiting the unification of Europe. The spill-over process could be controlled by tighter borders towards poorer countries and stricter
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requirements for accession. But such an approach could weaken the processes of reform and development in the periphery, too. Promoting or, at least, enhancing the chances for rapid growth in the periphery would obviously be a much better solution. The EU has committed itself to this goal (Art. 158-162 TEU). The examples of non-performing regions and countries, however, suggest some reservations regarding the feasibility of deliberate growth-promoting policies.
These dangers should not be over dramatised. On the one hand, parts of the "old" periphery have done well. Ireland (since 1993) and Portugal (since 1985) have experienced high growth. Some countries of Central and Eastern Europe have recovered from the shocks of transition (notably Poland and Hungary) but they still have to catch up much more in order to bridge the income gap. On the other hand, Greece and the former GDR as well as some regions (e.g. Mezzogiorno) provide examples of relative stagnation in spite of large assistance (between 5% and 50% of GNP).
The following essay focuses first on the historical record within the EU so far. It then analyses the causes of the nominal convergence of income. As income growth can only be sustained by increasing productivity the next section deals with the major factors contributing to productivity growth such as investment and trade. Finally, possible policies to enhance growth in the periphery like trade liberalisation, aid and integration in general will be discussed.
Patterns of Growth and Cohesion during Europes integration since 1957
If we take a brief look at the history of European integration and the development and distribution of growth during that time we can discern different periods:
Table 1: Integration, convergence and divergence in Europe
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The first period (1957-73) belongs to the glorious years" of Europes post-war prosperity. Southern Europe experienced catch-up growth. Average per capita income increased from about 55% of the EU-15 average to around 71%, while Central and Eastern Europe remained at around 47-50%. [See David L. Ellison 2001.]. The high growth in the core countries provided jobs for migrant labour from the periphery (Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey), too. This fordist growth model was not fully extended into the European periphery when the crisis of 1973/74 (end of the Bretton Woods system, oil price shock) struck. Since then, the rates of productivity growth halved, and unemployment picked up. This crisis of fordism affected poor countries more than rich ones (they were oil importers and experienced political upheavals) though the relative position of Central and Eastern Europe did not change much.
With the brief exception of 1985-1990, Europe did not re-enter a prolonged growth path. This five-year period ended with the crisis in the wake of German unification and the collapse of the European Monetary System (EMS). In the late 1980ies, the poorer new member states Portugal and Spain, however, experienced relatively strong growth which was partially due to the Single Market. Central and Eastern Europe stagnated and thus fell back comparatively (to 41% of the EU average). The 1990ies were a period of weak and volatile growth in most of Europe, yet Portugal and above all Ireland continued to catch up with the rich core. Central and Eastern Europe experienced a dramatic decline of income in relative and absolute terms which was only slightly reversed in the second half of the past decade.
The causes for the fluctuations of European growth are subject to a long, intense and inconclusive debate.
[See Nicholas Crafts and Gianni Toniolo „Postwar growth: an overview" in Nicholas Crafts and Gianni Toniolo (1996), "Economic Growth in Europe since 1945", pp.1-37, and the contributions by Barry Eichengreen (Institutions and economic growth: Europe after World War II), Mancur Olson (The varieties of Eurosclerosis: the rise and decline of nations after 1982) and Andrea Boltho (Convergence, competitiveness and the exchange rate) to that volume.]
The following table gives a first impression of the processes of convergence and divergence that could be observed.
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Table 2: GDP in ECU and PPP* in selected EU member states (EU=100)
* PPP = Purchasing Power Parity
At present, growth in the periphery seems to confirm the free market assumptions. Locations in the EU periphery now combine their higher capital productivity (caused by relative underdevelopment and less capital available) with lower Euro interest rates. This combination allows higher growth, theoretically until the marginal productivity of capital in the periphery has reached core levels (a point which might be not too far away in Ireland). The other scenario would be increasing disparity due to agglomeration advantages in the core regions.
[As supposed in a seminal way by Paul Krugman and Anthony Venables "Integration and the Com pe titiveness of Peripheral Industry" in Bliss/Macedo 1990, pp. 56-75]
The overall picture is rather mixed. The EU Commission itself admits in its Second Cohesion Report [See EU-Kommission 2001, p.4] (published in January 2001) that
Other authors [See Robert Leonardi 1995, "Convergence, Cohesion and Integration in the European Union", p.96 and 109.], possibly using different forms of measure, did observe income convergence between regions between 1979 and 1991 though that does not exclude stronger disparities within countries.
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The various records of different countries indicate that national circumstances and policies should be analysed in greater detail:
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In Euroland, Member States, including future ones from CEE, will be much more like regions within countries lacking the possibility to control the exchange rate and trade and capital flows. As a rule, poor regions have performed less well than poor Member States. Two major cases should be briefly discussed [See Andrea Boltho, Wendy Carlin and Pasquale Scaramozzino "Will East Germany Become a New Mezzogiorno?" in Journal of Comparative Economics 24 (1997), pp. 241-264.]:
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The picture emerging from these country cases is somewhat confusing. Integration does not seem to promote catch -up growth. The only country where convergence and integration coincided has been Portugal. However, neither does integration prevent convergence as the Irish and Portuguese cases prove. Even the extreme cases of Greece, Mezzogiorno and East Germany suffered less from integration as such than from a lack of preparation and/or bad domestic policies.
On the one hand, overvalued currencies or wages outpacing productivity (two sides of the same coin) and thus consumption beyond their own means facilitated by huge revenues from transfers destroyed jobs and deterred investors. On the other hand, less integration could have allowed for a selective protectionism orienting import demand towards investment goods and given domestic producers a better chance to compete with foreign enterprises. These problems will be discussed in more detail below where the focus will be on the implications for the accession countries of CEE. In particular, we will analyse two problems for catching-up countries of the periphery: the nominal convergence of income and the real convergence of output.
Nominal convergence of income
The average per capita income of a catching-up country can be increased in two ways: first, by receiving additional transfer income from abroad or, second, by producing greater value added. The first option is seldom attainable, at least over a longer period of time. East Germany and Southern Italy can to some extent rely on it as they belong to national communities where higher standards of solidarity apply. In the second case, when the growth of income depends on the market (i.e. wages and profits), either the quantity or the average price of the output has to increase.
For some people who can hardly increase their output per hour (e.g. hair dressers) price increases may even be the only way to increase their income. A whole country can theoretically catch up by increasing its level of prices, wages and profits, i.e. by a higher rate of inflation than the EU average as long as this real appreciation is not corrected by a nominal devaluation of its currency. Such a correction will usually take place as imports rise, exports fall and the trade deficit widens. It can only be avoided by rising productivity in the tradables sector.
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The catch-up growth of countries within the EU periphery actually depended on real domestic growth and currency appreciation with the latter accounting for the bulk of convergence. Real growth (i.e. nominal growth measured in local currency and deflated by the inflation rate) has been only marginally (to less than 25%) responsible for reducing the disparity between national per-capita incomes measured in ECU (or Euro).
[See Annamaria Artner and Andras Inotai „Chances of Closing the Development Gap. A Statistical Approach" Institute for World Economics Working Papers Nr. 80, Budapest 1997]
Nominal wage growth implies higher real wages only if consumer prices increase less than wages. The more integrated Europe has become, the more prices for tradables should have been equalised throughout the Common (and later Single) Market. The more the law of one price holds, the more differences in nominal wages imply differences in real wages.
[See Hubert Gabrisch and Rüdiger Pohl (eds.) "EU Enlargement and its Macroeconomic Effects in Eastern Europe. Currencies, Prices, Investment and Competitiveness" Basingstoke and London 1999.]
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) will hardly avoid higher inflation than the EU as prices for tradables will approach the EU-level and prices for non-tradables, notably services, will increase even faster. Devaluations also tend to reinforce inflationary tendencies which in turn require further devaluation to maintain external competitiveness. Restrictive wage policies could prevent this vicious circle but at the price of lower domestic demand, at least in nominal terms. Allowing the nominal catching-up with its implied higher than EU average inflation rate (Balassa-Samuelson-effect) while at the same time avoiding a too strong loss of international competitiveness requires a careful monetary and exchange rate policy. [See the article by the Hungarian central banker György Szapáry "Transition Countries’ Choice of Exchange Rate Regime in the Run-UP to EMU Membership" in Finance and Development June 2001 pp.26-29.]
That task is further complicated as, in the course of catching-up, successful periphery countries tend to receive massive capital inflows that bid up the exchange rate. While this may contribute to convergence, financial markets often tend to overshoot and
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provoke inverse reactions later. Thus, those countries have to carefully choose their monetary and exchange rate policy in order to smooth appreciation processes while keeping inflation under control and protecting their international competitiveness. [See also Lucjan Orlowski 2001.]
As long as the exchange rate deviates from the purchasing power parity (PPP), these disparities allow nominal wage differentials between core and periphery without entailing differences in living conditions of the same magnitude. Often, poor households get access to important parts of their income and consumption in non-markets or regulated markets (e.g. family income pooling, subsistence production, regulated housing). The more the societies of the European periphery are modernised, the less those niches survive and the more nominal wages have to increase if massive poverty and migration are to be avoided. If workers in periphery countries whose competitiveness depends on relatively low wages will have to pay higher prices for non-tradable, local goods and services, the difference between income measured at the current exchange rate and at PPP will disappear or at least be reduced. This would imply that the workers traditional living standards could no longer be maintained. As table 2 shows, convergence of income per capita has been much stronger if incomes are compared at purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than in ECU (Euro).
Nominal growth of GDP per capita might not tell the whole story. The actual average income of workers and/or citizens, i.e. GNP/capita, might be different from the GDP/capita when there are big flows of factor income across borders. In the Portuguese case, GNP/capita has been higher than GDP/capita until the mid-1970ies thanks to remittances from Portuguese workers abroad. In the Irish case, the GNP/capita has been substantially lower probably because a big part (between 20% and 25%) of its gross domestic income is earned by those foreign investors. That fact indicates a possible scenario for catching-up growth. After a period of FDI inflows and import surpluses, the country must enter a phase of export surpluses and outflows of factor income. This might have to be accompanied by a declining share of wages in GDP (in the Irish case from 78% in 1980 to 68% in 1990 and 58% in 2000).
In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), these phenomena can be observed, too. [For the following analysis see Leon Podkaminer 2001.] Productivity increased in all countries (though often because of labour shedding), but did not lead to higher wages everywhere. Unit labour costs declined substantially in Hungary while they increased strongly in Poland and Slovakia. In the remaining considered applicant countries, unit labour costs changed less substantially. Thus the share of wages in GDP declined in Hungary indicating that Hungary is following the Irish model.
Real convergence of output
Economic growth can be achieved by using more labour and capital and/or by increasing their productivity. The availability of more labour depends on participation rates, working time customs or regulation, the duration of schooling, the retirement age, unemployment rates and migration. The readiness of potential workers to work (more)
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depends further on the wages offered which they compare to alternative types of income (welfare, activities in the black market or in the subsistence sector). More capital results from savings, either domestic or foreign. As long as the savings of the private sector are relatively constant, higher savings can only be achieved by a restrictive fiscal policy leading to public savings. Conversely, state budget deficits and the subsequent borrowing can crowd out private investment though public investment is necessary to accompany economic growth or even a precondition for it. Keynesian economics suggest that in the case of surplus saving (i.e. less private investment than savings) public expenditure should close that gap.
Poor countries tend to export labour and import capital. Wages earned abroad increase GNP, though not GDP, at least not directly. The remittances of those migrants can be a substantial source of savings, as in the case of Portugal. Capital imports take various forms from foreign aid (grants) to credits and direct investment. But savings need to be invested to produce growth. Often, for example, in Greece, the capital made available has been consumed rather than invested.
Portugal, Spain and Ireland attracted large amounts of FDI. Poland showed good growth after 1994 with relatively little FDI, too. The later surge of FDI in Poland has been a consequence of strong Polish growth rather than its cause. Some countries - mostly bigger - in other regions of the world (e.g. Japan, Korea, Taiwan) also achieved high growth without strong inflows of FDI though even these countries used foreign capital to finance prolonged current account deficits. To sum up, FDI is not a necessary condition for rapid development but it certainly helps, in particular if it is not footloose capital but investing into the long-term conditions of growth (R&D, training etc.). FDI is no free lunch, however. Ireland, as mentioned above, shows the price in terms of lower GNP than GDP that has to be paid.
Most of Central and Eastern Europe is presently following that pattern of labour exports and capital imports. The transition crisis after 1989 has reduced the use of labour by lowering participation rates and increasing unemployment. Although traditional high savers during communist times, some countries imported capital even then to finance heavy, but often unproductive investment, and thus began the transition already burdened with foreign debt (e.g. Hungary and Poland). Additional capital was made available by western assistance including debt relief, new credits and FDI. One of the most important obstacles to growth was the balance-of-payments constraint. Hungary and the Czech Republic experienced debt and currency crises in the mid-1990ies that spoiled their growth performance. [See also Lucjan Orlowski 2001.]
As the dismal growth record of communism proves, rising productivity is in the long run more important than rising factor inputs. In order to become sustainable, all nominal increases of income (however measured) have to be based on higher productivity. This requires structural change with the shifting of capital and labour into activities that add more value either within the same enterprise by up-grading the quality and effectiveness or by reallocation between enterprises and industries. In this context, the local economy has to find its place within the ever-changing global division of labour by specialising in those more productive activities. Foreign trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) can
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contribute to this process by forcing domestic enterprises to innovate, and by providing markets, capital, know-how, technology etc.
In Europe, vertically differentiated intra-industry trade, where different qualities of the same sector are exchanged, is the principal trade pattern. Within the EU, Ireland, Germany and France excel in high quality, while Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal show strengths in low quality. The remaining countries are specialised in medium quality. [See Lionel Fontagné et al. „Trade patterns inside the Single Market" Paris, CEPII Document de Travail no. 97 1997] This trade reflects to a large extent growing European production networks. EU integration has strengthened these networks by attracting more FDI into new member countries. Both Spain and Portugal benefited from surges of FDI after accession in 1986. Irelands growth is largely based on locating parts of international value chains on its territory.
The new division of labour within Central and Eastern Europe shows a similar differentiation.
[See Michael Landesmann "Structural Change in the Transition Countries 1989-1999" in: UN-ECE "Economic Survey of Europe 2000 2/3", Chapter 4, pp. 95-117.]
Policies for Cohesive Growth
Cohesive growth depends first and foremost on the appropriate policies of the catching-up countries. Short term and long term measures should be discerned.
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Some trade-offs between the short and the long run exist. Productivity growth might be enhanced by foreign private investment and EU assistance for public investment in infrastructure and training. That inflow of capital can, however, lead to the appreciation of local currency and a "Dutch disease" making local production less competitive. In order to achieve price competitiveness of their exports, periphery countries usually try to keep inflation under control or compensate inflationary processes by a devaluation of the national currency. They have usually adopted fixed exchange rate regimes with an undervalued exchange rate as it is easier to permit some inflation than to regain market share, production and employment lost due to an overvalued exchange rate.
[See Lucjan Orlowski 2001 as well as William H. Branson "Financial market integration, macroeconomic policy and the EMS" in Bliss/Macedo 1996, pp. 104-130, and Paul R. Krugman 1990, "Macroeconomic adjustment and entry into the EC: a note", pp. 131-140.]
Deliberate undervaluation might be difficult to achieve in the face of liberalised global financial markets, which expect an appreciation of the national currency. Thus, entering the EMU could be helpful as it can protect the exchange rate against speculative attacks. However, in the case of real overvaluation due to high domestic inflation, potential responses become limited to policies of disinflation such as wage restraint and austerity measures which usually are politically sensitive.
The case of the former GDR is a particularly negative illustration of the opposite "strategy". It shows what harm an overvalued exchange rate and rapid increases in nominal wages can do to the competitiveness of the local industry. The convergence of incomes could no longer be achieved by domestic efforts but only by huge transfers that have to continue over a prolonged period. The migration that was to be avoided by the policies adopted in 1990 has actually continued until now.
A successful growth policy is also a matter of timing, i.e. to determine the point when a poor country can switch from relying on low costs (cheap currency, low wages etc. ) to relying on high productivity and quality which allow currency appreciation and high(er) wages without losing competitiveness. Obviously, the switch from macro-economic policy is closely linked to a structural change from enterprises and industries that rely on low costs to those relying on qualitative factors. The less competitive enterprises and branches will usually exert pressure on the government to keep wages low and the currency cheap. Actually, a too strong and/or too early rise of wages or nominal appreciation can be harmful in the longer run if it pushes enterprises out of the market which can later not be easily re-established even after a depreciation. But a continuous policy of wage moderation risks locking a country into low-tech, low-productivity activities.
Beyond the purely economic factors, growth depends on societal, political and cultural influences and structures
[One could call this the "Meta"-dimension of economic development as opposed to the "Macro" of economic policies, the "Meso" of structural and regional policies and the "Micro"-level of activities by specific markets, enterprises and their networks. See Jörg Meyer-Stamer 2001, "Was ist Meso? Und wer ist Meta? Systemische Wettbewerbsfähigkeit: Analyseraster, Benchmarking-Tool und Handlung srahmen".].
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advanced CEE countries or to clientelistic obstacles to growth in countries such as Greece or Southern Italy. Basically, good policies to promote growth might not work when administered in a bad way or when there is a lack of, as it is called, "good governance". Conversely, changes in the political or administrative structure such as more responsibility and accountability at the local or regional level may improve local development. Industrial and trade policies have allowed Japanese and other South East Asian economies to grow rapidly while similar types of protectionism in other countries have led to rent-seeking and prevented adjustment and competitiveness. "Trust" has been identified as an ingredient of growth whose lack can increase transaction and information costs to a prohibitive extent. Similarly, a network of civil society and/or a democratic governance can lead to more sustainable development
[See Putnam, Robert D., Nanetti, Raffaella and Leonardi, Robert "Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions In Modern Italy" : Princeton 1994].
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How can the growth of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe be promoted by the EU? [See also Michael Dauderstädt 1997, "The EU and its poor neighbours. How the centres could help those on their periphery".]
Although the policies of the periphery countries play the decisive role in promoting the catching-up process, the EU can support that process. As the major trading partner and investor, its policies and development affect the neighbouring countries to a large extent. EU-integration by association, pre-accession, accession and membership exerts also a strong influence on domestic policies of any candidate country. As an applicant country that wants to become a full member of the EU, it has to give up control over important economic policies such as subsidies, policies regulating foreign trade, cross-border capital flows, migration and even the exchange rate and fiscal policy within the EMU. Sometimes that will make it difficult to react adequately to certain external shocks or domestic problems. To avoid and prevent some of the problems mentioned in the first sections, it might be necessary
The right time to take these steps is during the accession process when the conditions for entry and the transitional period are defined.
For the EU to assist in the development of neighbouring countries, the following policy areas are obviously important:
Eventually, the distribution of income and growth within Central and Eastern Europe still needs to be considered. Even when average national incomes approach the average European level, huge disparities within these countries might still remain - in particular between regions and between wage earners and asset owners. The Irish case with its enormous decline of the share of wages in GDP is a strong warning signal regarding the latter. And the EUs cohesion reports have to admit that in spite of a, albeit slow, convergence among Member States, there has been no convergence among regions but increasing disparities. Without cohesion on the national level many problems and threats to stability remain. National redistributive policies, however, suffer from the above mentioned constraints on fiscal and other policies imposed by the preparation for accession and EU membership.
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