European monetary system and european currency

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Mark until 1998.

The figures relating to the population and the GDP of the euro area illustrate this. With 292 million inhabitants, its population exceeds that of the United States (270 million) and that of Japan (127 million). The GDP of the euro area is, on the other hand, equal to 76% of the GDP of the United States (EUR 5,774 billion compared with EUR 7,592 billion), though it is higher than that of Japan (EUR 3,327 billion). The source of this information, which refers to 1998, is Eurostat.

However, even more important than the current figures is the potential for the future development of the euro area, in terms of population and GDP, if and when the so-called "pre-ins" (Denmark, Greece, Sweden and the United Kingdom) join the Eurosystem.

The entry of these countries would result in a monetary area of 376 million inhabitants, 39% larger than the United States and almost triple the size of Japan, with a GDP of EUR 7,495 billion, only slightly less than that of the United States and 125% higher than that of Japan.

All these facts and figures which demonstrate the demographic and economic importance of the European Union would be further strengthened by enlargement to Eastern Europe. Our continent has a historical, cultural and geographical identity - from the Iberian Peninsula to the Urals, with certain additional external territories - which, in the future, may also come to form an economic unit. However that is, for the moment, a distant prospect.

The degree of openness of an economic area is also a relevant factor as regards the international role of its currency. In this respect the euro area is more open than the United States or Japan, with a percentage of external trade of around 25.8% of GDP, compared with 19.6% for the United States and 17.9% in the case of Japan (data from Eurostat for 1997). However, a euro area consisting of the 15 countries of the European Union would be more closed, by the mere arithetic fact that the transactions with the present pre-ins would become domestic transactions, resulting in a coefficient of openness of 19.4%, similar to that of the United States. Clearly, the size and the degree of openness are parameters that move in opposite directions: the larger the euro area, the smaller its degree of openness to other countries.

The financial dimension of the euro

The size or habitat of an economy does not only depend on demographic or economic factors; it also has to do with the financial base or dimension of the area. In considering the financial dimension of the euro area, the first relevant feature to observe is the low level of capitalisation of the stock markets in comparison with the United States and Japan. Compared with a stock market capitalisation of EUR 3,655 billion in the euro area in 1998, the United States presents a figure almost four times this amount (EUR 13,025 billion). Japan ranks third, with EUR 2,091 billion. There would be a marked difference if one were to include all 15 countries of the European Union, since the stock exchange capitalisation would increase to EUR 6,081 billion.

Although these figures could give the impression that the euro area has a relatively small financial dimension relative to its economic dimension, this is not the case. The lower degree of development of the capital markets is offset by a higher degree of banking assets. This means that the financial base of real economic activity in Europe is founded on bank intermediation, which is also a feature of the Japanese economy. For example, private domestic credit in the euro area amounts to 92.4% of GDP, while in the United States it is only 68.9%. Conversely, fixed domestic income represents 34.2% of GDP in the euro area compared with 66.1% of GDP in the United States (statistics from the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements as at the end of 1997, taken from the Monthly Bulletin of the European Central Bank). We therefore have two distinct models of private financing which clearly have to be taken into account when assessing Europe's financial dimension compared with the United States or Japan.



The euro as a catalyst for European integration

The euro, the Eurosystem's monetary policy and, in general, the activity of the ECB and the Eurosystem will play a key role in the integration of European financial markets and all markets in general. We can say that the euro will act as a catalyst for European economic integration.

Monetary and financial integration

The integration of the European money markets relies, of course, on the existence of a single system for refinancing the banks in the euro area, that is to say on the common monetary policy. However, it also relies technically on a system of instantaneous data transfer and on the new common payment system, TARGET, enabling real-time gross settlement. Thanks to the smooth operation of the information, communication and payment systems, a common monetary policy is realistic and the integration of the markets can take place. Such integration will, in turn, involve greater liquidity and further development of the financial markets.

Реферат опубликован: 12/08/2008