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The decisions of the Council of Europe on December 5"', 1978, that would lead to the establishment of the European Monetary System, raise a multitude of questions. Among these, the creation of a European currency unit, the ECU, and the announcement of the establishment in the near future of a European Monetary Fund, the E.M.F., are the most symbolic decisions in terms of public opinion as well as the most important in their economic and political implications. In this article, we will show that the development of the ECU and the creation of a E.M.F. with substantial decisional autonomy are the two conditions necessary for strengthening the European monetary union.
In the light of monetary experience and theory, the EMS appears to be unsustainable. Monetary history of the past sixty years shows that every attempt to stabilise the international monetary System has been frustrated as a consequence of divergent egocentric monetary policies. The breakdown of the rules of the gold standard game in the twenties, as well as the use of money as an instrument in national macroeconomic policies under the Bretton Woods regime have ultimately led to the demise of the fixed exchange rates System. In the sixties, European views on monetary policies were quite divergent, but in the seventies institutional attempts were made to bring them apparently into line. The "snake" arrangements, initiated in 1972, soon degenerated. The more ambitious attempt of 1979, the institutionally more elaborate EMS, suffers from the same basic weakness as all the previous ones. It lacks a common monetary standard, such as the one proposed in the 1975 Ail-Saints Manifesto. Such a standard is a necessary and a sufficient condition for a sustainable common monetary System.
The idea of an international monetary System comprised of a number of countries (monetary zones) linked together by an exchange rate mechanism controlled by the I.M.F. - the system's center - is the basis of the vast majority of the analyses and reform schemes respecting the System.
This idea does not correspond to international economic and monetary reality which is organized around one or several international currencies (or key currencies) with regard to which the Central Bank(s) exercise(s) the de facto role of the System's monetary authority. This fact raises two theoretical questions : How is a Central Bank led to exercise such a role ? How, in fact, does the System function ?
It is significant that the textbooks rarely treat the first question other than from an historical perspective. It would nevertheless appear that the explanation for the development of Euromarkefs employs a number of analytical tools that allow for a theoretical framework for the evolution of the I.M.S. based on the idea of competition among financial institutions and banks.
On the one hand, this theory anticipates the long-term integration process of markets characterized by the erosion of regional markets and the growth of a new dominant market and therefore by the coexistence of regional authorities and a central authority sharing monetary power. On the other, it advocates the mix of unification and macroeconomic management policies that these authorities must adhere to in order to optimize the process.
In the second part of the text the operation of a monetary zone such as the dollar standard of the last thirty years is examined. The organization of that zone provides an example of the distribution of monetary power as between the Federal Reserve System and the central banks of other countries. A consideration of the operation of an International Monetary System having two key currencies completes the study.
This article focuses on three key dates in analyzing the monetary policy options arrived at by the States of Europe over the course of the last thirty years. By the creation of the European Payments Union in 1958, the European States made a regionalist policy option by establishing the intra-European convertibility of their currencies while maintaining exchange restrictions with respect to the dollar zone. In 1958 on the other hand resumption of general convertibility of currencies demonstrated the "global-linkage" policy option of the decision-makers of the period by removing any specifically European substance from the European monetary agreement. From this perspective, the decision of December 1978 to institute a monetary System would clearly appear to be by far the most important initiative taken in some time to reestablish a framework for European monetary cooperation. With regard to international monetary relations, eight countries have therefore, within three decades, chosen two regionalist policy options and one global-linkage policy option. The purpose of this study is to identify the circumstances, reasons and impact of the policy options that have successively been implemented.
Is the european monetary System (EMS) a useful approach to the problems it is meant to solve and to the pursuit of the objectives that its promoters have set for themselves? A review by the authors of a number of economic motives which underly the creation of the EMS leads them to conclude that the various economic problems which the european readily blame on floating exchange rates find in fact their origins in the economic policies pursued by the national governments. Moreover, the authors consider that the defense of parities in the EMS, either through intervention in the exchange markets or by other means, can involve high economic costs and that in the longer run market forces always triumph when parities no longer reflect the fundamental positions of the respective economies. Among the other factors which limit the usefulness of the EMS the authors identify the continuing lack of macro-economic policy coordination by participating countries, its regional character, the underestimation of the importance of the american dollar in the international monetary system and the impact of its fluctuations on european currencies and the tendency of the EMS to harmonize inflation rates at a higher level than should be aimed for. The authors therefore conclude that it is doubtful that the EMS constitutes a useful instrument of economic policy and that efforts towards european monetary union based on such a system of parities can be successful under present circumstances.
The evolution of the international monetary System prompted the nine members of the E.E.C. to establish a European Monetary System. The new statutes of the I.M.F. have in fact legalized the practice of flexible exchange rates and sanctioned the dollar's inconvertibility while eliminating the role of gold. Further, the increasing importance of the international capital markets fosters the unlimited expansion of international liquidities.
it is in response to this context then that Europe seeks to create a zone of stability and to manage its own international tender in accordance with rules that it has set for itself. The author draws a positive conclusion as the System has operated without major problems so far. Nevertheless, difficulties remain: the international environment has not improved given the abrupt strengthening of the dollar and the increase in American interest rates. In addition, progress with regard to cooperation among the Nine remains slow and political change in France makes any prognosis respecting the future of the European Monetary System difficult.
It was anticipated that the System would be Consolidated rapidly. It would in that event contribute more effectively to the stability of the international monetary System. It could, on the other hand, sharpen competition between Europe and the United States, between the Ecu and S.D.Rs. and between the European Monetary Fund and the International Monetary Fund.