Fiscal unions redux

Patrick J. Kehoe, Elena Pastorino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Before the advent of sophisticated international financial markets, a widely accepted belief was that within a monetary union, a union-wide authority orchestrating fiscal transfers between countries is necessary to provide adequate insurance against country-specific economic fluctuations. A natural question is then: Do sophisticated international financial markets obviate the need for such an active union-wide authority? We argue that they do. Specifically, we show that in a benchmark economy with no international financial markets, an activist union-wide authority is necessary to achieve desirable outcomes. With sophisticated international financial markets, however, such an authority is unnecessary if its only goal is to provide cross-country insurance. Since restricting the set of policy instruments available to member countries does not create a fiscal externality across them, this result holds in a wide variety of settings. Finally, we establish that an activist union-wide authority concerned just with providing insurance to member countries is optimal only when individual countries are either unable or unwilling to pursue desirable policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-776
Number of pages36
JournalEconomic Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the editor, the referees, Eugenia Gonzalez Aguado, Zefeng Chen, and Sergio Salgado Ibanez for helpful comments. We are grateful to Joan Gieseke for editorial assistance. For research support, we thank the ADEMU project, which is sponsored by the European Commission Horizon 2020 European Union Funding for Research and Innovation, Grant Agreement No. 649396, as well as the National Science Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis or the Federal Reserve System.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).


  • Cross-country externalities
  • Cross-country insurance
  • Cross-country transfers
  • Fiscal externalities
  • International financial markets
  • International transfers
  • Optimal currency area


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