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How the Euro Works

        Money | Currency

Disadvantages and Risks of the Euro

While there are many advantages to the euro, there are also some disadvantages. The cost of transitioning 12 countries' currencies over to a single currency could in itself be considered a disadvantage. Billions were spent not only producing the new currency, but in changing over accounting systems, software, printed materials, signs, vending machines, parking meters, phone booths, and every other type of machine that accepts currency.

In addition, there were hours of training necessary for employees, managers, and even consumers. Every government from national to local had impact costs of the transition. This enormous task required many hours of organization, planning, and implementation, which fell on the shoulders of government agencies.

The chance of economic shock is another risk that comes along with the introduction of a single currency. On a macroeconomic level, fluctuations have in the past been controllable by each country.

  • With their own national currencies, countries could adjust interest rates to encourage investments and large consumer purchases. The euro makes interest-rate adjustments by individual countries impossible, so this form of recovery is lost. Interest rates for all of Euroland are controlled by the European Central Bank.
  • They could also devalue their currency in an economic downturn by adjusting their exchange rate. This devaluation would encourage foreign purchases of their goods, which would then help bring the economy back to where it needed to be. Since there is no longer an individual national currency, this method of economic recovery is also lost. There is no exchange-rate fluctuation for individual euro countries.
  • A third way they could adjust to economic shocks was through adjustments in government spending, such as unemployment and social welfare programs. In times of economic difficulty, when lay-offs increase and more citizens need unemployment benefits and other welfare funding, the government's spending increases to make these payments. This puts money back into the economy and encourages spending, which helps bring the country out of its recession. Because of the Stability and Growth Pact, governments are restricted to keeping their budget deficits within the requirements of the pact. This limits their freedom in spending during economically difficult times, and limits their effectiveness in pulling the country out of a recession.

In addition to the chance of economic shock within Euroland countries, there is also the chance of political shock. The lack of a single voice to speak for all euro countries could cause problems and tension among participants. There will always be the potential risk that a member country could collapse financially and adversely affect the entire system.