Articles tagged with: Kevin O'Rourke

European Monetary Union in Historical Perspective

on Wednesday, 11 July 2012. Posted in Issue 69 The Future of the Euro, Economics


Economic historians are well used to writing essays on historical parallels with current economic problems, and drawing lessons from the past. In the case of European Monetary Union (EMU), however, there are no historical precedents. To be sure, we have examples of currency unions that have broken up, but these unions typically existed in the context of multinational empires, such as the Soviet Union. When the empires collapsed, so did the currency unions, and it is not surprising that they did so in circumstances of conflict and economic chaos. To ascribe these conditions to the collapse of the currency unions involved, rather than to the breakup of the empires themselves, as some banking analysts have recently done, is clearly unconvincing.1