September 16, 2022 was the 30th anniversary of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) crisis. To mark this occasion, the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), the Pierre Werner Chair Programme at the European University Institute and the Center for Analytical Finance at the University of California-Santa Cruz are organising two webinars to reflect on the potential lessons from the early crisis, for policy reforms in the euro area and in the European Union today.
This is an opportunity to revisit the conditions and circumstances that generated currency crisis and instability in the early 1990s relative to today’s circumstances; to compare the nature of the currency crises to more recent crises and turmoil in the European monetary area, highlighting differences and similarities; and to assess the efficacy of the policy responses and the fragility/efficacy of cross-border cooperation in the face of large shocks.
The webinar offers a narrative of the ERM crisis as a watershed in the process of monetary and economic integration in Europe. While the ERM crisis did not derail the plan for monetary unification altogether, it did undermine the architecture of the Maastricht plan for a smooth transition to the common currency, as the end-point of a process of progressive solidification of fixed exchange rate parities. In this respect, the crisis indeed highlighted the 'destabilising role of fixed rules with escape clauses'. Most crucially, it led to risk polarisation across national boundaries and regions.