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Guntram B. Wolff

Guntram B. Wolff

Guntram Wolff has been the Director of Bruegel since June 2013. His research focuses on the European economy and governance, on fiscal and monetary policy and global finance.

Articles by Guntram B. Wolff

COVID-19 could leave another generation of young people on the scrapheap

21 days ago

It is time that the highest political level focuses on the risk of a lost generation.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: November 12, 2020
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

A decade ago, the global financial crisis left deep scars in terms of destroyed opportunities and unemployment for young people. In Europe in particular youth unemployment persisted. Now COVID-19 threatens to do the same thing to the under-25s. Yet, neither the leaders of France, Italy or Spain, nor the president of the European Commission, have prioritised youth unemployment in recent policy speeches. It is time that the highest political level focused on the risk of a lost generation. Bold policies will be needed.
During the global financial crisis, the United States youth unemployment rate increased

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Strengthening the international role of the euro

October 1, 2020

Testimony before the European Parliament on the International Role of the Euro.

On September 30th, 2020 Bruegel’s director Guntram B. Wolff presented a testimony before the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, as input on Danuta Hübner’s Own-initiative procedure on the the topic of the international role of the Euro.

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Without good governance, the EU borrowing mechanism to boost the recovery could fail

September 15, 2020

The European Union recovery fund could greatly increase the stability of the bloc and its monetary union. But the fund needs clearer objectives, sustainable growth criteria and close monitoring so that spending achieves its goals and is free of corruption. In finalising the fund, the EU should take the time to design a strong governance mechanism.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: September 15, 2020
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This opinion piece has previously been published in El Pais, Il Sole and Rezpospolita, LeMonde and FAZ.

In late July, the European Council created the European Union recovery fund, a major new policy instrument that could substantially increase the stability of the EU and its monetary union, and under which the bloc will for the first time

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Employment and COVID-19

September 9, 2020

Testimony before the Economic Affairs Committee at the House of Lords, British Parliament on Employment and COVID-19.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: September 9, 2020
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

On September 8th, 2020 Bruegel’s director Guntram B. Wolff presented testimony before the Economic Affairs Committee at the House of Lords, British Parliament, on the Employment measures put in place to fight the economic crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic.To view the video testimony, please follow the link here.

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EU priorities and the recovery during Covid19

June 18, 2020

Testimony at the Committee on EU Policies of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: June 18, 2020
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

On June 17, 2020 Bruegel’s director Guntram B. Wolff presented a testimony on EU priorities and the recovery during Covid19 at the Italian Parliament.

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Navigieren auf Sicht ist für einen grünen Wiederaufschwung nicht genug

May 12, 2020

This opinion piece was originally published in NZZ. Die Coronavirus-Pandemie und die Massnahmen zu ihrer Bekämpfung haben zum grössten weltweiten Wirtschaftsabschwung seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg geführt. Unternehmen, private Haushalte und der Staat navigieren in dieser Situation grosser Unsicherheit auf Sicht. So werden Entscheidungen in Unternehmen und Familien möglichst vertagt, bis man wieder klar sehen kann. […]

Die Coronavirus-Pandemie und die Massnahmen zu ihrer Bekämpfung haben zum grössten weltweiten Wirtschaftsabschwung seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg geführt. Unternehmen, private Haushalte und der Staat navigieren in dieser Situation grosser Unsicherheit auf Sicht. So werden Entscheidungen in Unternehmen und Familien möglichst vertagt, bis man wieder klar sehen kann. Der Staat

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EU debt as insurance against catastrophic events in the euro area: the key questions and some answers

April 22, 2020

European Union debt can provide comprehensive insurance against the COVID-19 pandemic and can enable a macroeconomic response, even though EU debt is a liability for taxpayers in EU countries and therefore indirectly for national budgets. To establish it, countries will need to give up control over some spending and some revenues. To be politically sustainable, that control should not be intergovernmental but be grounded in EU institutions. The EU Treaty offers some possibilities, but treaty change might ultimately be necessary. Democratic legitimacy is at the core of the debate.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: April 22, 2020
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The idea of a European COVID-19 pandemic recovery fund (to be discussed by EU heads of state on 23 April) has

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Be bold now: coronavirus, the Eurogroup and fiscal safety nets

March 17, 2020

This blog post sketches two scenarios: one in which countries provide a large fiscal safety net to companies and another in which they do not. Both lead to similar debt-to-GDP ratios in 2021, but the safety net leads to a smaller and shorter recession and a quicker rebound. We then discuss how to fund a large response without fragmenting the euro area. Until the lockdowns end, such measures should be implemented.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: March 17, 2020
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

After its meeting on 16 March, the Eurogroup came up with a strong statement, but it fell short of what will be needed to prevent lasting damage to our economies. A report just published by Imperial College’s COVID-19 team makes it clear: if we want to minimise the loss of lives, we

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Europe may be the world’s AI referee, but referees don’t win

February 19, 2020

The EU needs to invest in homegrown technology. By: Guntram B. Wolff Date: February 19, 2020 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance The European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager has been tasked with developing a European strategy on artificial intelligence. For Europe, the crucial question is how to speed up AI uptake in the industrial sector — indeed, only 18 percent of large European companies use AI tools at scale.So far, however, the European Union has been more interested in writing the rules of AI than in winning the game. That’s unfortunate. As a consequence, there isn’t much European AI ready to be adopted.When European companies want to adopt AI solutions, they are almost inevitably forced to turn to vendors from the United States or China —

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Europe may be the world’s AI referee, but referees don’t win

February 19, 2020

The EU needs to invest in homegrown technology. By: Guntram B. Wolff Date: February 19, 2020 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance The European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager has been tasked with developing a European strategy on artificial intelligence. For Europe, the crucial question is how to speed up AI uptake in the industrial sector — indeed, only 18 percent of large European companies use AI tools at scale.So far, however, the European Union has been more interested in writing the rules of AI than in winning the game. That’s unfortunate. As a consequence, there isn’t much European AI ready to be adopted.When European companies want to adopt AI solutions, they are almost inevitably forced to turn to vendors from the United States or China —

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Europe’s banking union must be cyberproofed

January 30, 2020

The EU urgently needs to conduct joint preparedness exercises and create uniform information and disclosure requirements that help build a true pan-European insurance market for cyber risks By: Guntram B. Wolff Date: January 30, 2020 Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation When European leaders, back in 2012, embarked on an ambitious plan to create a truly pan-continental financial system, they overlooked one important detail: how to protect it from cyberattacks.Banks have remained closely tied to national governments, including in cases of financial stress, as the so-called banking union is only half-finished. And because the European Union’s cybersecurity authorities are national, banks are also in tight lockstep with their country’s security authorities.With much of the debate

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A value-added tax could reduce carbon leakage

November 27, 2019

The European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen is pursuing ambitious environmental targets, notably to reach zero net emissions across the EU by 2050. This transition requires pricing emissions to incentivise producers to develop greener alternatives, while avoiding putting domestic producers at a disadvantage.Border Carbon AdjustmentBorder carbon adjustment (BCA) has been Ms. von der Leyen’s suggested remedy and deserves the attention of policymakers. Carbon leakage — the shifting of greenhouse gas-intensive production to places outside of the EU, where such emissions are not taxed — is a real concern. After all, the benefits of the tax in terms of lower emissions would be gone, while domestic jobs would be lost.Already, the EU imports significantly more carbon dioxide than

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Demystifying carbon border adjustment for Europe’s green deal

October 31, 2019

From carbon leakage to “green protectionism”, the European Green Deal envisioned by the incoming Commission has many critics. But some adjustments to the deal could make domestic manufacturers more carbon efficient while simultaneously encouraging foreign producers to become more environmentally friendly.European Commission President-Elect Ursula von der Leyen has made a strong plea to accelerate Europe’s transition to a “green” economy with the goal of achieving ambitious targets of reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and a reduction to zero net emissions by 2050. A central element in achieving this transition is to put a significant price on all GHG emissions that will incentive producers and consumers to switch to less green-house gas-intensive alternatives. But if

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Why Europe needs a change of mind-set to fend off the risks of recession

September 2, 2019

Recession! This is the new worry in Europe and the US. A simple look at google trends shows that in Germany, France and the US, search interest for recession peaked in the last weeks. In Italy, the peak already occurred end of January. Whether a recession is actually occurring is difficult to gauge in real time. But there can be no doubt that significant risks such as the trade war and no-deal Brexit exist. By: Guntram B. Wolff Date: September 2, 2019 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance For European finance ministers, the situation represents a new challenge. When major recessions happened in the past, finance ministers knew that the central bank would be the first line of defence. But with interest rates at zero, room for cutting is very limited for the ECB. Still, the

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The EU needs a bold climate strategy

July 19, 2019

Scientists report that global temperature increases must be limited to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. With global greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase and rising temperatures driving up the frequency of extreme weather events, the world needs a greater commitment to climate policy.

In order to avert catastrophic climate change for the entire human population, global temperature increases must be limited to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Scientists have shown that achieving net-zero carbon emissions before 2050 is essential to this achievement, which has become a key goal of the Paris agreement. But as global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and rising temperatures drive up the frequency of extreme weather events, the world needs to commit much more to climate policy.

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Promoting sustainable and inclusive growth and convergence in the European Union

April 8, 2019

This speech was delivered by Guntram Wolff at the Informal ECOFIN Meeting in Bucharest on 5 April 2019.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: April 8, 2019
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This speech, based on the Policy Contribution by Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram Wolff, was delivered by Guntram Wolff at the Informal ECOFIN Meeting in Bucharest on 5 April 2019.

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What does a possible no-deal Brexit mean?

January 24, 2019

With Brexit getting closer, it is still extremely difficult to predict which one of the possible outcomes will materialise. Guntram Wolff examines what exactly it would mean for the UK to ‘crash out’ of the EU, for both parties.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: January 24, 2019
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This article was published by Caixin.

On March 29th 2019, two years will have passed since the United Kingdom notified the EU of its intention to withdraw from the European Union. As it stands, the UK will then become a third country and cease to be a member of the EU.
With the deadline getting closer, it is still extremely difficult to predict which one of the four possibilities will materialise: (1) the UK

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The implications of no-deal Brexit: is the European Union prepared?

January 14, 2019

The author, based on a note written for the Bundestag EU Committee, is exploring the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the EU, assessing preparations on the EU side and providing guidance on the optimal strategy for the EU, depending on the choices made by the United Kingdom.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: January 14, 2019
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This Policy Contribution, based on a note written for the Bundestag EU Committee, explores the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the European Union and assesses preparations on the EU side. It also provides guidance on the optimal strategy for the EU, depending on the choices made by the United Kingdom.
Overall, a no-deal Brexit would be

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The implications of no-deal Brexit: is the EU prepared?

January 14, 2019

Hearing on Brexit in the EU Committee of Bundestag on 14 January 2019, exploring the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the EU and assessing preparations on the EU side.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: January 14, 2019
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This note, written at the request of the Bundestag EU committee, explores the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the EU and assesses preparations on the EU side. It also provides guidance on optimal strategy for the EU assuming different choices taken by the UK.
Overall, a no-deal Brexit would be disruptive in the short-term.
There would be immediate very significant administrative and logistic challenges in trade. Preparations to reduce those

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How could Europe benefit from the US-China trade war?

October 18, 2018

Versions of this article have also been published by Caixin, Die Zeit, Nikkei and Politico.

The European Union and Donald Trump got off to an awkward start. Initially, the U.S. president seemed to want to take on the world, confronting China and his country’s long-time allies alike.
More recently, however, tensions between the U.S. and the Europe have calmed — especially as Trump has turned his focus squarely on China. This provides the EU with an important opportunity it must not waste — to use the pressure on China to more clearly set the rules of engagement with Beijing.
There are many reasons why Trump may have shifted his crosshairs. They include worries about Beijing’s rise and the perception that competition from China has cost the U.S. jobs in important economic

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Overcoming the hurdles to Italian Growth

September 4, 2018

Now is the time for refining recommendations and for a serious political debate on how best to overcome bottlenecks and improve the economic prospects of Italians.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: September 4, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This opinion piece was also published in La Repubblica

As the Italian government is contemplating its budgetary policy, it is useful to look at other countries’ experiences in how to deal with high debt levels. A salient example is Belgium as my colleague André Sapir is pointing out in an upcoming paper for Bruegel. Belgium and Italy both had comparable debt to GDP ratios in the early 1990s. But in Belgium the debt ratio declined by 51 points of GDP between the peak (of

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Germany’s Government Still Has an Allergy to Investing

July 23, 2018

The new coalition budget looks a lot like the old German coalition budget.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: July 23, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This opinion piece has been published in Bloomberg
 

Germany’s new government is composed of the same two parties as its previous one, but many in Germany and outside expected one major change: more government spending. Olaf Scholz, the new finance minister, comes from the Social Democratic Party, which heavily campaigned on a promise of more investment and growth in Germany.
And yet Scholz’s first budget suggests those hopes were misplaced: The Scholz plan looks almost identical to that of the previous minister, Christian Democrat Wolfgang Schaeuble. Despite the

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A Brexit deal is still not achieved

July 13, 2018

The UK paper should be seriously considered. While it breaks a number of European red-lines, it is also an attempt to solve some issues. The question is whether the EU will be ready to seriously negotiate. Geostrategic considerations suggest that it is time for the EU to do so.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: July 13, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

Brexit has again been a major news topic over the past week. After the British cabinet agreed to a Brexit plan at its Chequer’s meeting, two of the loudest Brexit proponents – the secretary in charge of the Brexit negotiations, David Davies, and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson – stepped down. Both gave as a primary reason that the Chequer’s agreement would not

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Griechenland braucht einen Neuanfang

July 3, 2018

This was first published by Die Zeit. Acht Jahre nach Beginn des ersten Hilfsprogramms für Griechenland ist es soweit – Griechenland soll wieder auf eigenen Füßen stehen. Die Eurogruppe soll heute das Ende des dritten Hilfsprogramms beschließen und die Modalitäten für die Zeit danach definieren. Ziel sollte es jetzt sein, einen tragfähigen Ausstieg aus dieser für alle Seiten […]
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: July 3, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This was first published by Die Zeit.

Acht Jahre nach Beginn des ersten Hilfsprogramms für Griechenland ist es soweit – Griechenland soll wieder auf eigenen Füßen stehen. Die Eurogruppe soll heute das Ende des dritten Hilfsprogramms beschließen und die Modalitäten

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Die Unternehmensteuer muss reformiert werden

July 3, 2018

Der deutsche Kapitalstock schrumpft. Das liegt zum einen an sinkenden Investitionen von Unternehmen. Eine Reform der Unternehmensteuer könnte helfen.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: July 3, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

Deutschland benötigt dringend eine private und öffentliche Investitionsinitiative. Seit Mitte der 1990er-Jahre hat sich Deutschlands Kapitalstock nur sehr schwach entwickelt. Während dieser in den USA um fast 70 Prozent gewachsen ist und in der gesamten Europäischen Union um über 45 Prozent, stieg er in Deutschland um nicht einmal 30 Prozent. Vergleicht man die Entwicklung des Kapitalstocks seit 1995 in den 28 EU-Staaten, liegt Deutschland somit auf dem vorletzten Platz.
Ein Grund liegt in der

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Trägt Deutschland eine Mitschuld an Italiens Krise?

June 6, 2018

Italiens Regierung will riesige neue Schulden machen – die nächste Bewährungsprobe für die Eurozone. Deutschland muss sich aktiv an der Lösung beteiligen.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: June 6, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This opinion piece has been published in Zeit

“Italien hat mal wieder eine Krise – aber mit uns hat das Ganze nichts zu tun”: So lautet der fast einstimmige Tenor vieler Diskussionen zu den dramatischen politischen Entwicklungen in Italien in den vergangenen Wochen. Aber ist diese Einschätzung denn richtig oder trägt Deutschland nicht zumindest eine Mitschuld?
Richtig ist: Die italienische Politik ist chaotisch und gibt Anlass zur Sorge. Zunächst sah das Regierungsprogramm der

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What does Europe care about? Watch where it spends

May 14, 2018

The European Union says it wants to focus on new priorities. First it will have to cut spending in sectors that have long enjoyed support.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: May 14, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This article was published first by Bloomberg, on March 21st 2018.

“Don’t tell me what you value,” Joe Biden once said. “Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
He wasn’t talking about the European Union, obviously, but it’s a great line that’s as telling today in Europe as it was when he used it to criticise Washington Republicans in 2008.
Negotiations on the next seven-year budget cycle lasting from 2021-27 began recently. The European Commission says an enlarged trillion-euro ($1.23

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Germany’s current account surplus and corporate investment

May 9, 2018

Following the 1990s post-reunification period and since the beginning of monetary union, Germany’s current account has grown substantially. In the crisis years, Germany’s lost about 15 percentage points of GDP in its external investments, but the position continues to grow nevertheless. What are the drivers behind Germany’s current account surplus?
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: May 9, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

Germany’s current account surplus is unusually, and persistently, large. It was above €250 billion euros in 2017, the third consecutive year with a current account surplus above 7.8% of GDP (IMF 2017). To put this into context, of the 193 countries listed in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook between

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Europe needs a broader discussion of its future

May 4, 2018

When thinking about what will determine the prosperity and well-being of citizens living in the euro area, five issues are central. This column, part of VoxEU’s Euro Area Reform debate, argues that the important CEPR Policy Insight by a team of French and German economists makes an important contribution to two of them, but leaves aside some of the most crucial ones: European public goods, a proper fiscal stance and major national reforms. It also argues that its compromise on sovereign debt appears unbalanced.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: May 4, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This opinion piece has been published in VoxEU
This column is a lead commentary in the VoxEU Debate “Euro Area Reform“

When thinking

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How Should the EU Position Itself in a Global Trade War?

April 5, 2018

It is high time for the EU to work on more than just wishful thinking in response to the US challenge to global trade. With the first cracks appearing in the multilateral system, it will be difficult for the EU to maintain a middle course between the US and China.
By:
Guntram B. Wolff
Date: April 5, 2018
Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The last meeting of the European Union’s heads of state or government, the European Council of 22-23 March, was dominated by worries about the future of global trade. Since President Donald Trump’s announcement to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports and the granting of a temporary exemption to the EU, South Korea and number of other countries, the old trade order based on

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