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Conference Report: "The Financial Crisis in Comparative Regional Perspective: Can Europe Learn from Other Regions?"

News from Dec 10, 2012


by Dr. Arie Krampf

The conference "The Financial Crisis in Comparative Regional Perspective: Can Europe Learn from Other Regions?" took place at the Freie Universität Berlin from 23-24 November 2012. It was hosted by the Kolleg-Forschergruppe “The Transformative Power of Europe” and convened by Arie Krampf. The conference brought together political scientists, economists and sociologists to discuss the European financial crisis in comparative regional perspective.

The conference sought to compare the current European financial crisis to previous financial crises in other regions in order to reach generalizations regarding the putative effects of a financial crisis on regional integration processes, with the aim of identifying the mechanisms that link the crisis to an institutional regional change and the political and economic factors that explain inter-regional variations.

Several key themes emerged from the panel discussions:

Variations of regional paths: Several papers compared different cases of regional integration and identified the variations between the different regional paths of integration in the EU, ASEAN and Mercosur. Variations were explained on the basis of factors such as the level of trust among governments in the regions, the role of regional leaders, common interest vis-à-vis extra-regional actors and deviation from historical paths. There was also an attempt to compare the European process of integration with the monetary federalization of the United States.

Regional responses to financial crises: A key theme that ran through most of the papers was the regional response to a financial crisis. Given that a regional financial crisis creates a demand for an urgent facilitation of liquidity provision, the issue of Regional Liquidity Funds (RLF) recurred in several papers.The need for rapid and flexible regional sources of liquidity, it was agreed by the participants, is one of the key drivers of financial regional integration. However, the outcomes in the different regions vary in terms of depth and mode of integration. Hence, crises were discussed as events that have the potential to transform the region. However, the materialization of this potential is dependent on regional political and economic features. In this context, a panel on banking supervision addressed the different modes of banking regulation in Latin America and in Europe and how financial crises affected the regional mode of banking regulation.

Challenges for Europe: Several of the papers focused on the impact of the Eurozone crisis on the future of the European integration process. The conclusions were mixed: some papers argued that the crisis led to a “national backlash” among European countries, while other papers pointed out the new opportunity for further integration.