Target2: The Silent Bailout System that Keeps the Euro Afloat

Journal of Risk and Financial Management 16: 506. https://doi.org/10.3390/jrfm16120506

126 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2023

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 7, 2023

Abstract

Target2 is the Eurozone’s cross-border payment system, which is mandatory for the settlement of euro transactions involving Eurozone central banks. It is being used to save the Eurozone from imploding. A key underlying problem is that the Eurozone does not satisfy the economic condi-tions for being an Optimal Currency Area, i.e., a geographical area over which a single currency and monetary policy can operate on a sustainable, long-term basis. The different business cycles in the Eurozone, combined with poor labour and capital market flexibility, mean that systematic trade surpluses and deficits will build up because inter-regional exchange rates can no longer be changed. Surplus regions need to recycle the surpluses back into deficit regions via transfers to keep the Eurozone economies in balance. But the largest surplus country—Germany—refuses to formally accept that the European Union is a ‘transfer union’. However, deficit countries, in-cluding the largest of these—Italy—are using Target2 for this purpose. Target2 has become a giant credit card for Eurozone members that import more than they export to other members, but with two differences compared with normal credit card debt: neither the debt nor the interest that ac-crues on the debt ever needs to be repaid. Furthermore, the size of the deficits being built up is causing citizens in deficit countries to lose confidence in their banking systems, leading them to transfer their funds to banks in surplus countries. Target2 is also being used to facilitate this capital flight. However, these are not viable long-term solutions to systemic Eurozone trade imbalances and weakening national banking systems. There are only two realistic outcomes. The first is a full fiscal and political union, with Brussels determining the levels of tax and public expenditure in each member state—which has long been the objective of Europe’s political establishment. The second outcome is that the Eurozone breaks up.

Keywords: Target2, payment system, Optimal Currency Area, Eurozone, euro

JEL Classification: E02, E42, F45

Suggested Citation

Blake, David P., Target2: The Silent Bailout System that Keeps the Euro Afloat (December 7, 2023). Journal of Risk and Financial Management 16: 506. https://doi.org/10.3390/jrfm16120506, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4660004

David P. Blake (Contact Author)

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