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Fiscal Rules: Theoretical Issues and Historical Experiences

In: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis

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  • Charles Wyplosz

Abstract

Fiscal indiscipline is a feature of many developed countries. It is generally accepted that the source of the phenomenon lies in the common pool problem, the fact that recipients of public spending to fail to fully internalize the costs that taxpayers must assume. As a result, democratically elected governments are led to postpone tax collection, or to cut spending. Solving the fiscal discipline problem requires internalizing this externality. This calls for adequate institutions or for rules, or both. This paper reviews the various types of solutions that have been discussed in the literature and surveys a number of experiments. With the European debt crisis in mind, the paper pays particular attention to the common pool problem that emerges in federal states. The main conclusions are the following. First, rules are unlikely to exist unless they come with supporting institutions. Second, fiscal institutions are neither necessary nor sufficient to achieve fiscal discipline, but they help. Third, because institutions must bind the policymakers without violating the democratic requirement that elected officials have the power to decide on budgets, effective arrangements are those that give institutions the authority to apply legal rules or to act as official watchdogs.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Alberto Alesina & Francesco Giavazzi, 2013. "Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ales11-1.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12656.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12656

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    Cited by:
    1. Neyapti, Bilin, 2013. "Fiscal decentralization, fiscal rules and fiscal discipline," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(3), pages 528-532.
    2. Grembi, Veronica & Nannicini, Tommaso & Troiano, Ugo, 2012. "Policy Responses to Fiscal Restraints: A Difference-in-Discontinuities Design," IZA Discussion Papers 6952, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Balatoni, András & Tóth G., Csaba, 2012. "Az új magyar adósságszabály értékelése
      [Assessment of the new regulations on debt]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(10), pages 1107-1137.
    4. Catherine Mathieu & Henri Sterdyniak, 2012. "Faut-il des règles de politiques budgétaires ?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/eo6779thqgm, Sciences Po.
    5. Niels Gilbert & Jeroen Hessel & Silvie Verkaart, 2013. "Towards a Stable Monetary Union: What Role for Eurobonds?," DNB Working Papers 379, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    6. Hanappi, Hardy, 2013. "Future methods of political economy: from Hicks’ equation systems to evolutionary macroeconomic simulation," MPRA Paper 47181, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/eo6779thqgm5r489m6u1i2a0o is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/eo6779thqgm5r489maqa474kg is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Silvana Bartoletto & Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2012. "The Sustainability of Fiscal Policy in Italy: A Long-Term Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 3812, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Kumhof, Michael & Laxton, Douglas, 2013. "Fiscal deficits and current account deficits," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 2062-2082.
    11. André Grjebine, 2013. "L’Eurosystème: un mécanisme de transferts en faveur des pays déficitaires ? Le débat," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/eo6779thqgm, Sciences Po.

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