Currency Crises, Monetary Union and the Conduct of Monetary Policy: A Debate among Leading Economists

By Paul J. Zak | Go to book overview
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9. The Lord Robbins Memorial Lecture: European Monetary Union: What can we Learn from the United States?

Christopher Johnson


Introduction

The Bank of England is not a museum -- not yet, anyway -- but it has a museum. The most thought-provoking exhibit is a dollar minted by the Bank some two centuries ago. The prospect of British-American monetary union vanished with the 13 colonies. At some moments in recent history it has looked as if the currency coined by innovative centres such as Gibraltar and the Isle of Man might also be relegated to the status of curios. Not now. Even in the distant Far West of the United States, people are waking up to the fact that there will very probably be a European single currency called the euro within the next few years. They are not all sure that they welcome it, but American criticism of the euro ranges from altruism on behalf of European partners embarking on a potentially disastrous experiment to concern about the loss of some of the dollar's world currency advantages.

Most American economists see the disadvantages of European Economic and Monetary Union ( EMU) more clearly than they see its advantages, partly because they are unfamiliar with some of the unique and unprecedented features of the European Union as a strange amalgam of national and supranational elements. Many European economist have looked at the United States as a monetary union, and found both things to imitate and things to

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