21 July 2010

Fiscal Union Is Implied if Not Required by a Monetary Union

In 1991 during a visit to Brussels for a discussion of the EU '92 event with some of the bureaucrats engaged in planning there, my old economics professor predicted that no matter what they said, a monetary union implies a fiscal union, greater than the targets and harmonisation which they would admit, men being the creatures that they are.

It makes sense when one understands monetary policy and its theory, and the implications it has in restricting the freedom to save or spend as one may wish to pursue as a fact of fiscal policy.

Here is a story below in which France and Germany discuss their moves to bring more uniformity to their fiscal policies. Quite frankly I am surprised that it has taken this long for it to happen. With the financial crisis tearing down the facades, the extend and pretend policies of the EU have collapsed, and the cheating behind their targets have been exposed for the farce that they are.

And by extension, if one's monetary and fiscal policies are no longer their own, but shared with another and intimately bound by a common currency, then a greater political union and independent governance is a moot point.

This is what my old professor predicted in 1991. And on the train ride back to Paris he said, "Watch what happens if there is a move to establish a single world currency that is a sovereign instrument, and not merely a reference to a basket of currencies and commodities. And then he quoted the famous observation from Mayer Rothschild: "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws."

It has been many years since we have spoken. He was tottering towards his retirement then, and I suspect that he is smiling at all these developments from some better and kinder vantage now, as I know he would be even if it was a profane preference. It was always his first joy to probe the subtle mysteries of money, and how they related to the political follies of men. It was he who first infused me with an interest in the study of money, an aspect of macroeconomics which bordered on his obsession. And it opened a new world to me, and an endless fascination with what is difficult, but so wonderfully, and often subtlety vast.

"Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."

John Keats, On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer

et Allemagne s'attaquent à l'harmonisation de leur fiscalité

La bonne gouvernance européenne implique, notamment, l'harmonisation des politiques fiscales. Paris et Berlin en font leur credo, qui ont fait un pas ce mercredi vers une convergence de leurs systèmes fiscaux, à l'occasion de l'invitation au Conseil des ministres français du ministre allemand de l'Economie et des Finances Wolfgang Schäuble.

L'objectif est que « nos deux gouvernements soient ensemble en mesure de prendre des décisions pour aller vers la nécessaire convergence fiscale, tant dans le domaine de la fiscalité des entreprises que dans celui de la fiscalité des particuliers », a annoncé l'Elysée dans un communiqué. « La convergence entre nos systèmes fiscaux est un élément essentiel de notre intégration économique et de l'approfondissement du marché intérieur en Europe », a estimé Nicolas Sarkozy. La première étape de cette convergence devrait passer par un état des lieux des deux systèmes. La Cour des comptes s'en chargerait, côté français, un organisme équivalent s'y attelant outre-Rhin.

Le plan de rigueur allemand est soumis à des risques d'exécution

Le rapprochement franco-allemand en matière de fiscalité ressemble fort, côté français, à une volonté d'aligner le système fiscal sur le modèle allemand. Le poids des prélèvements obligatoires sur l'économie est globalement inférieur chez les deux plus proches partenaires de l'UE (42,8% du PIB en France et de 39,5% en Allemagne en 2008, selon les données énoncées par Nicolas Sarkozy ce mercredi), et leur répartition y est sensiblement différente (moins d'impôt direct, mais TVA plus forte