13 Dec 2013

The Ghost of Deflation Past

Thomas Mayer

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This note takes a look at the development of monetary aggregates and debt in the G7 (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan), plus non-G7 euro-area countries, which have an important bearing on the future development of price levels. It also discusses the problem of restoring external competitiveness in the weaker euro-area countries without aggravating their debt burden. The key conclusions are i) monetary and debt developments in the G7 countries point to relatively sluggish growth but do not signal deflation risks and ii) the realignment of ‘internal real exchange rates’ in the euro area will most likely come through a rise in prices in Germany (and a few other stronger countries). The lessons learned in the early 1930s have made a come-back of deflation quite unlikely.

Thomas Mayer is Associate Senior Fellow at CEPS and Senior Advisor to Deutsche Bank. With this contribution, CEPS is inaugurating a new publication series, called High-Level Briefs, written by eminent economists, offering opinions, insights and solutions into the salient challenges confronting European policy-makers and markets.