Fiscal Devaluation in Europe

It’s a policy designed to drive exports.
A form of protectionism.
It reduces consumption of imports to the extent domestic prices are helped by lower labor costs where domestic goods a compete directly with imports, which is probably limited.

And of course without further support of fx intervention (dollar and yen buying etc.) it makes the currency go up to the point where the effects are offset/no gains in employment, etc.

And if one nation does it the currency move hurts the others who don’t so it opens up a race to the bottom.

It hurts low income consumers
It helps corporate profits
It supports the currency
And so those are the people that support it.

Am I missing something?

Harvards Gopinath Helps France Beat Euro Straitjacket

By Rina Chandran

Feb 6 (Bloomberg) — When French President Francois Hollandeunveiled a plan in November for a business tax credit and higher sales taxes as a way to revive the economy, he was implementing an idea championed by economist Gita Gopinath.

Gopinath, 41, a professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has pushed for tax intervention as a way forward for euro-area countries that cannot devalue their exchange rates. Fiscal devaluation is helping France turn the corner during a period of extreme budget constraints, former Airbus SAS chief Louis Gallois said in a business- competitiveness report Hollande commissioned.

She advocated fiscal devaluation for Europes currency union in a 2011 paper she co-authored with her colleague Emmanuel Farhi and former student Oleg Itskhoki, an assistant professor at Princeton in New Jersey.

Despite discussions in policy circles, there is little formal analysis of the equivalence between fiscal devaluations and exchange-rate devaluations, they wrote. This paper is intended to bridge this gap.

The paper examines a remarkably simple alternative that doesnt require countries to abandon the euro and devalue their currencies, Gopinath said. By increasing value-added taxes while cutting payroll taxes, a government can create very similar effects on gross domestic product, consumption, employment and inflation.

The higher VAT raises the price of imported goods as foreign companies pay the levy. The lower payroll tax helps offset the extra sales tax for domestic companies, reducing the need for them to raise prices. Since exports are VAT exempt, the payroll-cost saving allows producers to sell goods cheaper overseas, simulating the effect of a weaker currency, according to the paper.

The policy also can help on the fiscal front, as increased competitiveness can lead to higher tax revenue, Gopinath said.

Hollande is seeking to revive Frances competitive edge by offering companies a 20 billion-euro ($27 billion) tax cut on some salaries as he attempts to turn around an economy that has barely grown in more than a year. He also will lift the two highest value-added tax rates. The plan was inspired partly by Gopinaths paper, said Harvard professorPhilippe Aghion, an informal campaign adviser to Hollande, who was elected president in May.

Aghion, who co-wrote a column in Le Monde newspaper last October advocating Gopinaths theory, said Gallois proposed to Hollande that its the right strategy for France. Gallois is slated to become a member of the board at automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen this year.

We contributed to the adoption of the policy by Hollande, and Gallois called to thank me, Aghion said in a telephone interview. There is wider interest in the policy. Italy, Spain, Greece — they should all be interested. Its an idea that would work.