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When is fiscal adjustment an illusion?

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  • William Easterly

Abstract

Fiscal adjustment is an illusion when it lowers the budget deficit or public debt but leaves government net worth unchanged. Conventional measures of the budget deficit largely show the change in public sector debt. Ideally, the measured deficit would reflect the change in public sector net worth. Many people consider it impractical to try to measure public sector assets. My paper does not discuss what the deficit should measure, but instead proposes a positive and testable theory of how governments actually behave. Copyright Centre for Economic Policy Research, Centre for Economic Studies, Maison des Sciences de l'Homme 1999.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by CEPR & CES & MSH in its journal Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 14 (1999)
Issue (Month): 28 (04)
Pages: 55-86

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecpoli:v:14:y:1999:i:28:p:55-86

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References

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  1. Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 1998. "The Stability Pact: more than a minor nuisance?," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 65-113, 04.
  2. Buiter, Willem H & Corsetti, Giancarlo & Roubini, Nouriel, 1992. "`Excessive Deficits': Sense and Nonsense in the Treaty of Maastricht," CEPR Discussion Papers 750, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Bohn, Henning, 1992. "Budget deficits and government accounting," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-83, December.
  4. repec:fth:coluec:754 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. G. A. Mackenzie & Peter Stella, 1996. "Quasi-Fiscal Operations of Public Financial Institutions," IMF Occasional Papers 142, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Robert Holzmann & Yves Hervé & Roland Demmel, 1996. "The maastricht fiscal criteria: Required but ineffective?," Empirica, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 25-58, February.
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  8. Eisner, Robert & Pieper, Paul J, 1986. "A New View of the Federal Debt and Budget Deficits: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1156-57, December.
  9. International Monetary Fund, 1996. "Zaire - Background Information and Statistical Data," IMF Staff Country Reports 96/28, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, 1996. "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Barry Eichengreen and Jurgen von Hagen., 1995. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Union: Federalism, Fiscal Restrictions and the No-Bailout Rule," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C95-056, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. James M. Poterba, 1993. "State Responses to Fiscal Crisis: The Effects of Budgetary Institutionsand Politics," NBER Working Papers 4375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Eisner, Robert, 1984. "Which Budget Deficit? Some Issues of Measurement and Their Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 138-43, May.
  14. Eduardo Engel & Ronald Fischer & Alexander Galetovic, 1998. "Infraestructure Franchising and Government Guarantees," Documentos de Trabajo 29, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  15. Alberto Alesina & Tamim Bayoumi, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Fiscal Rules: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, . "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States (Reprint 060)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 10-96, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  17. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Mind your P's and Q's : the cost of public investment is not the value of public capital," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1660, The World Bank.
  18. Barry Eichengreen & Jürgen Hagen, 1996. "Fiscal restrictions and monetary union: Rationales, repercussions, reforms," Empirica, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 3-23, February.
  19. Blejer, Mario I & Cheasty, Adrienne, 1991. "The Measurement of Fiscal Deficits: Analytical and Methodological Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1644-78, December.
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