Optimum Currency Area (OCA) Theory

What criteria did Mundell use to recognize an optimum currency area and how relevant are these standards today in deciding whether two countries constitute an ideal money area?

An Optimum Money Area (OCA) is a physical region where maximise monetary efficiency is achieved by the whole region sharing an individual currency (a economic union), or by several currencies pegging to one another via a predetermined exchange rate. National authorities have come to the realisation that by merging with other countries to share a currency, everyone might reap the benefits of gains in monetary efficiency. An example of this can be seen in the formation of the euro where in fact the countries involved do not singularly match the conditions of an OCA, but believe together they come close. The purpose of national government bodies is to determine the correct form of financial integration to maximise efficiency.

One of the original founders of the OCA theory was economist Robert Mundell. In his first newspaper 'A Theory of Perfect Currency Areas' (1961) he offered several principal requirements to create a functioning financial union. To support these standards for an OCA I will on occasion refer to an example of consumer preferences transitioning from French to German-made products by Paul De Grauwe (2003). The change in consumer choices will cause an upward shift in aggregate demand in Germany and a downward transfer in France as shown in 1 below. The end result decline in France and upsurge in Germany is most probably to cause unemployment to upsurge in France but reduction in Germany.

The to begin the conditions for an OCA is price and wage overall flexibility throughout the physical area. Which means that the market forces of source and demand automatically send out money and goods to where they are really needed. For instance, with regards to France and Germany under perfect income flexibility, the unemployed employees in France will reduce their wage claims, and conversely excessive demand for labour in Germany will push up the income rate. This undoubtedly shifts aggregate resource for France outwards making French products more competitive, and revitalizing demand, whereas the opposite occurs for Germany. 2 below shows the effect of wage flexibility as an programmed adjustment device.

Mundell cited the importance of factor ability to move as an "essential element of an common money" (Mundell, 1961) and thus labour mobility over the geographical region is one of Mundell's main criteria for an OCA. In the case of De Grauwe's example, French unemployed workers would proceed to Germany where there is surplus demand for labour. This free movements of labour reduces the need to let wages drop in France and upsurge in Germany solving both the unemployment problem in France, and the inflationary wage pressures in Germany.

The living of labour ability to move relies on the unrealistic assumptions of free movements of personnel between regions no matter physical barriers such as work allows, cultural barriers such as dialect complications and institutional barriers such as superannuation transferrals. Indeed Peter Kenen described the additional costs of retraining staff and there can be an "unrealistic assumption of perfect occupational mobility"(Kenen, 1969). Ronald McKinnon seen that "in practice this does not work perfectly as there is no true wage overall flexibility" (McKinnon, 1979). McKinnon is simply highlighting the idea that in reality wage overall flexibility, as well as perfect labour and capital mobility do not necessarily exist. Considering an instance where wages in France do not decline regardless of the unemployment situation (no income flexibility), and French personnel do not proceed to Germany (no labour freedom) both Germany and France would be caught up in the initial position of disequilibrium. In Germany the excess demand for labour would put pressure on the wage rate, creating an upward switch in the supply curve. The modification from the position of disequilibrium would in cases like this come only from price rises in Germany making French goods more competitive once more. Therefore if wage overall flexibility and labour mobility does not are present then the adjustment process will be entirely reliant on inflation in Germany.

Mundell stated product diversification in the geographical area is an important determinant of the suitability for a region to talk about a currency. It has been backed by many economists, such as Peter Kenen who says "sets of countries with diversified domestic production are more likely to constitute optimum money areas than categories whose participants are highly specialised" (Kenen, 1969). Finally Mundell mentioned that an computerized fiscal transfer mechanism must redistribute money to industries with adverse impacts from labour and capital freedom. This usually takes the form of taxation redistribution to less developed areas of the OCA. Whilst this is theoretically ideal and necessary, used it is rather difficult to receive the well off regions of the OCA to provide away their riches.

Mundell produced two models with regards to OCA theory. Inside the first, under a model of Stationary Objectives (SE), he requires a pessimistic view towards economic integration, yet, in his second paper he counters this, and targets the great things about a monetary union under the style of International Risk Showing (IRS), which has conversely been used to claim for the formation of monetary unions.

'The Theory of Optimal Money Areas' paper by Mundell in 1961 portrays OCAs under fixed goals. The assumption is manufactured that asymmetric shocks undermine the real economy and therefore versatile exchange rates are considered preferable because a shared monetary policy would not be specifically tuned for the precise situation of each constituent region. This newspaper led to the formation of the Mundell-Fleming Model of an open overall economy which includes been used to claim against the formation of financial unions as an market cannot all together maintain a fixed exchange rate, free capital activity, and an unbiased monetary insurance plan.

Whilst the Mundell's conditions for an OCA is kept in high regard my many economists, there are a few criticisms levelled at him. Capital flexibility is seen to get been a "greater adjustment mechanism than labour flexibility" (Eichengreen, 1990) and this is one factor John Ingram criticises Mundell for disregarding. Obviously the openness of the spot to capital ability to move is essential to the make-up of an OCA, as for trade to exist between participating locations, free motion of capital is necessary.

However in the years that used his 1961 paper on OCAs Mundell realised the criticisms of his previous paper and commenced to doubt the basic argument for versatile exchange rates as an modification device. He became more appreciative of the modification mechanism under resolved exchange rates, "It was not that we had forgotten the Mundell-Fleming model, but that we had gone beyond it" (Mundell, 1997). In Mundell's 1973 paper, 'Uncommon Arguments for Common Currencies', he discarded his early on assumption of static goals to check out how future doubt about the exchange rate could disrupt the capital market segments by restraining international profile diversification and risk-sharing. Here he presents his second model of OCAs under IRS. He counters his prior proven fact that asymmetric shocks weaken the situation for a standard currency by recommending a common money can reduce such shocks by showing the responsibility of damage. He uses the example of two countries, Capricorn and Cancer tumor. In spring, Malignancy ships half of its crop to Capricorn and in return it receives evidence of Capricorn's credit debt, a case to half of Capricorns food crop in fall. While one country is extending its money supply and owning a balance of repayments surplus, the other will be running a balance of payments deficit, and the procedure is reversed through the next period.

Mundell highlights that system is very adequate in an environment of certainty, yet, in reality there may be speculation about the convertibility of foreign currency. If Cancer acquired a bad harvest and produced less crop, to redeem all of records from the Capricorn would involve providing them with their promised talk about of crop as common, leaving Cancer short. Really the only defence against spending the promised share of crop will be a devaluation of Cancer's money and thus a reduction in the state by Capricorn on the crop. Capricorn must get enough crops to make it through and produce food in the fall, so Cancer won't also be still left short on items within the next period. The perfect solution is would appear to be always a partial devaluation of Malignancies currency, so the burden of damage would be distributed between the two countries.

Mundell shows that with different currencies comes the uncertainty of devaluation, a problem which a common currency wouldn't normally have. Under a common "world" money if Malignancy has a negative crop the quantity of world currency will exchange for full level of crop, irrespective of who holds the money as competition and freedom of arbitrage assures a single price. So long as competition exists, and there are virtually no time lags in the transmitting of goods or information, the price of the food will go up for both countries and so the burden of great shock is distributed automatically and similarly by both countries.

To reconcile Mundell's two paperwork and assess the appropriateness the standards on determining two countries suitability as a currency area I have decided to go through the circumstance of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and its own success as a economic union.

There a wide range of types of countries within Europe that would struggle to maintain international competitiveness with no money area. The areas of the EU with low labour freedom are furthest away from meeting the standards of a currency area. However, as the removal of legal barriers (such as visas) has increased this labour flexibility, issues such as terms barriers continue to be, for example, a French staff member may not desire to proceed to Spain because they cannot speak Spanish, also people tend to have ties to the places they currently live and might not exactly be willing to move away from them. Bayoumi and Eichengreen (1992) compared the united states and Europe regarding how disturbances in separate parts match shocks in a preferred benchmark region. They decided to go with Germany as the standard for Europe and found that there is a relatively high symmetry of disruptions within the main of the EU such as Austria, Benelux, Denmark, France and Germany. In addition they found that the symmetry was lower for western European countries. When compared to the USA, the EMU got a higher possibility of asymmetric shocks. However relating to Fidrmuc and Korhonen (2001) the degree of the asymmetric shocks is declining in the EU economies. Bayoumi and Eichengreen believe countries within Europe are further from an OCA than locations in the USA, and so are less appropriate as a money area. These studies claim that two countries in the European union are less suitable for forming a economic union than the parts of the united states, although the situation is enhancing. Frankel and Rose (1998) argued that the bigger the trade integration, the bigger the correlation of the business cycles among countries, quite simply there is greater symmetry of shocks. They also propose that business cycles and trade integration are inter-related and endogenous processes to establishing a currency union. Frankel and Rose's empirical studies observed that EMU entry stimulates trade linkages among countries and triggers the business routine to be more symmetrical on the list of union's individuals. Rose and Stanley (2005) find a common currency generally improves trade among its members between 30% and 90%. These findings agree with Mundell's argument that a common currency can help to offer with asymmetrical shocks. Frankel and Rose's results suggest that although two countries considering making a common currency might not exactly meet the requirements before they join the currency area they may do soon after.

Economists are divided in judgment between Mundell's two OCA models. The contrasting views which Mundell reveals in his papers have acquired him a subject as "the intellectual daddy to both factors of the debate". While some economists support the idea of stationary objectives, preferring versatile exchange rates, and conclude up against the euro, others advocate the IRS model, preferring the predetermined exchange rate, and conclude towards the euro. Mundell himself seems to have eventually settled in favour set exchange rates in a monetary union however he does still advocate the utilization of versatile exchange rates in two situations. Regarding unpredictable countries, whose inflation is different significant from its money sharing areas and in large countries where there is no established international monetary system, e. g. the united states. From Mundell's studies I could conclude that two countries which are heavily integrated through highly mobile factors of production which are highly varied in their goods should become a member of a common money. In regards to to the relevance of Mundell's theory today I would say his studies are still valid and used closely as complementary theory to financial integration happening in Europe and throughout the world.


Robert Mundell

'A Theory of Ideal Currency Areas', 1961

'Uncommon Quarrels for Common Currencies' p. 115, 1973

A Conference on Optimum Money Areas at Tel-Aviv University or college, 5th December 1997

Paul De Grauwe

'Economics of Monetary Union' p. 7, 2003)

Robert McKinnon

'Money in International Exchange: The Convertible Money System', 1979

Peter Kenen

'The theory of Perfect Money Areas: an Eclectic view', 1969

'Monetary Problems of the International Overall economy', 1969, pp. 95-100

Barry Eichengreen

'One Money for European countries? Lessons from the US Currency Union', 1990

'Is Europe an Optimal Currency Area', 1991

J. Fidrmuc & I. Korhonen

'Similarity of resource and demand shocks between your Euro area and the CEECs', 2001

J. A. Frankel & A. K. Rose

'The Endogeneity of the Maximum Currency Area Requirements' pp. 1009-25, Jul 1998

A. K. Rose & T. D. Stanley

'A Meta-Analysis of the result of Common Currencies on International Trade', pp 347-365, 2005

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)