Economic and behavioural aspects of the euro crisis

Economic and behavioural aspects of the euro crisis

Adam Szyszka

 

Keywords: Eurozone, euro crisis, behavioural finance, psychological inclinations of investors and decision makers

 

Summary: There are many reasons for the current state of affairs in the Eurozone, most of which fall within the scope of economics, politics, and human behaviour. In the first step, this paper briefly discusses the macroeconomic and fundamental background of the Eurozone turbulences. We argue that the roots of the crisis lie in the persistent imbalances within the Eurozone and the inflexibility of the common monetary policy that turned out to be inadequate for the dissimilar economies of the EMU. We also point at the mounting public debt, the high risks associated with the European banking sector, and the interdependence between the financial solidity of the banking system and government solvency across the Eurozone. However – contrary to many other commentaries – we consider the large public debt not as the primary reason for the crisis in Europe, but as an effect of the earlier lack of fiscal discipline and the result of external factors added on top. Later in this paper, attention is focused on behavioural aspects that might have contributed to the financial crisis and human inclinations that demonstrated themselves on that occasion. We discuss the extrapolation bias and problems with the time horizon of the decision makers, the underestimation of risk due to overconfidence and the difficulties with the probability estimation of extreme scenarios. We define “the Euro heuristic”, a phenomenon responsible for overseeing the risk disparity among various members of the EMU, and explain why bad news gets accepted relatively slowly. Herding, the activities of hedge funds, and the role of rating agencies are also deliberated upon. The behavioural approach to the recent European crisis and the application of psychological inclinations in this particular context, constitute the original contribution of this paper. The findings of the paper may help to avoid similar mistakes in the future, especially for prospective Eurozone members in years to come.

 

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