Politik und Gesellschaft Online
International Politics and Society 2/1999


Hans-Joachim Spanger:

The euro and the transatlantic relationship:
a geo-economic perspective

Vorläufige Fassung / Preliminary version

The introduction of the euro puts the European internal market on a par with the US in terms of size and independence. In the transatlantic relationship its introduction has led to an almost classic zero-sum constellation, for what the euro stands to gain, the US dollar, as the only reserve currency currently of any ranking, stands to lose. That could have serious consequences for the US, of which dollar price falls due to the transfer of portfolios and reserves are simply the tip of the iceberg. Much more serious will be that the US will lose its privilege of being able to finance the untrammelled growth of its current account deficit in its own currency. The combination of a noticeable loss of influence in terms of monetary policy and a no less noticeable slowing down of the economy currently driven by a speculative bubble would provide the ideal breeding ground for provoking a geo-economic reaction in the US which would take the form of euro bashing. We are familiar with the pattern, for ten years ago the US already demonstrated with its Japan bashing how it is inclined to deal with the supposed intransigence of its economic partners in the face of its own – real or imagined – weaknesses. And the most recent trade policy conflicts over bananas and hormone-treated beef give an indication of what lies ahead for the transatlantic relationship – particularly as these conflicts are occurring against the background of the at present still unbroken American triumphalism. It is in Europe's own interest that the resultant danger of spiralling escalation be countered in good time. Common responsibility for the global economy also dictates that monetary relations between the three major economic blocks should be stabilised. That requires far more than selective cooperation to keep a virulent crisis within bounds; it requires the constant exchange of information, which should be given institutional form now, in order to make room for future macroeconomic coordination. The appropriate framework for this is not the G7, but a newly established G3 which brings together the central bank governors and finance ministers of the US and Japan as well as the president of the European Central Bank and the chairman of the Council of Economics and Finance Ministers on behalf of the European Union.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition juliag | April 1999