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Journal of Economic Integration 2016 December;31(4) :898-931.
Causality within the Euro Area? : Trade Surplus in the North versus Public Debt in the South

George K. Zestos Travis K. Taylor Ryan D. Patnode 

Christopher Newport University, Newport News, United States
Corresponding Author: George K. Zestos ,Tel: 757-594-7067, Fax: 757-594-8953, Email:
Copyright ©2016 Journal of Economic Integration
The United States subprime mortgage crisis began to spread to Europe in 2008. The worst affected were periphery countries that experienced drastic declines in international competitiveness and thus accumulated large public debts. High public debt drove countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, and Spain to the verge of economic collapse. This study examines whether trade imbalances led to high public indebtedness in the periphery euro area countries. To investigate the impact of northern euro area countries’ trade surpluses on southern euro area countries’ public debt, we estimated bivariate and trivariate Vector Error Correction Models. We then employed these estimated models to test for Granger causality between trade imbalances and public debt. We found that trade surpluses in the northern euro area countries caused an increase in public debt in the periphery countries. However, only limited evidence for reverse causality was found.

JEL Classification
C12: Hypothesis Testing: General
F14: Empirical Studies of Trade
F15: Economic Integration
F45: Macroeconomic Issues of Monetary Unions
Keywords: European Sovereign Debt Crisis | Trade Imbalances | Cointegration | Vector Error Correction Models | Granger Causality Tests
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