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Implementing the stability and growth pact: enforcement and procedural flexibility

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  • Beetsma, Roel
  • Debrun, Xavier

Abstract

The paper proposes a theoretical analysis illustrating some key policy trade-offs involved in the implementation of a rules-based fiscal framework reminiscent of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). The analysis offers some insights on the current debate about the SGP. Specifically, greater "procedural" flexibility in the implementation of existing rules may improve welfare, thus increasing the Pact’s political acceptability. Here, procedural flexibility designates the enforcer’s room to apply well-informed judgment on the basis of underlying policies and to set a consolidation path that does not discourage high-quality policy measures. Yet budgetary opaqueness may hinder the qualitative assessment of fiscal policy, possibly destroying the case for flexibility. Also, improved budget monitoring and greater transparency increase the benefits from greater procedural flexibility. Overall, we establish that a fiscal pact based on a simple deficit rule with conditional procedural flexibility can simultaneously contain excessive deficits, lower unproductive spending and increase high-quality outlays. JEL Classification: E62, H6

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0433.

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Date of creation: Jan 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20050433

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Keywords: deficits; fiscal rules; procedural flexibility; Stability and Growth Pact; structural reforms;

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References

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  1. Milesi-Ferretti, Gian Maria, 2001. "Good, Bad or Ugly? On the Effects of Fiscal Rules with Creative Accounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 2663, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2004. "Improving the SGP Through a Proper Accounting of Public Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 4220, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. von Hagen, Jurgen & Wolff, Guntram B., 2006. "What do deficits tell us about debt? Empirical evidence on creative accounting with fiscal rules in the EU," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 3259-3279, December.
  4. Sibert, Anne, 1999. "Monetary Integration and Economic Reform," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(452), pages 78-92, January.
  5. Hallett, Andrew Hughes & Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard & Richter, Christian, 2005. "The European economy at the cross roads: Structural reforms, fiscal constraints, and the Lisbon Agenda," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 229-250, June.
  6. Olivier Blanchard, 2004. "The Economic Future of Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
  7. Beetsma, Roel & Debrun, Xavier, 2003. "Reconciling Stability and Growth: Smart Pacts and Structural Reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 3930, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Robert A. J. Dur & Ben D. Peletier & Otto H. Swank, 1999. "Voting on the Budget Deficit: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1377-1381, December.
  9. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2004. "EU fiscal rules: issues and lessons from political economy," Working Paper Series 0421, European Central Bank.
  10. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard, 2001. "Currency unions and the incentive to reform: are market mechanisms enough?," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 139-155, July.
  11. Francesca Castellani & Xavier Debrun, 2001. "Central Bank Independence and the Design of Fiscal Institutions," IMF Working Papers 01/205, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Scholarly Articles 3612769, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Roel M. W. J. Beetsma & Xavier Debrun, 2003. "Reconciling Stability and Growth," IMF Working Papers 03/174, International Monetary Fund.
  14. Beetsma, Roel & Uhlig, Harald, 1999. "An Analysis of the Stability and Growth Pact," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 546-71, October.
  15. Sibert, Anne & Sutherland, Alan, 2000. "Monetary union and labor market reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 421-435, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. James Hollyer, 2010. "Conditionality, compliance, and domestic interests: State capture and EU accession policy," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 387-431, December.
  2. Andrés Leal Marcos & Julio López Laborda, 2009. "Efectos externos del endeudamiento sobre la calificación crediticia de las Comunidades Autónomas," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 189(2), pages 81-106, June.
  3. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2010. "A common pool theory of supranational deficit ceilings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 269-278, February.
  4. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2006. "A Common Pool Theory of Deficit Bias Correction," CEPR Discussion Papers 5866, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Fiorella Kostoris Padoa Schioppa, 2006. "The 2005 Reform of the Stability and Growth Pact: Too Little, Too Late?," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 6, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
  6. Schuknecht, Ludger, 2004. "EU fiscal rules: issues and lessons from political economy," Working Paper Series 0421, European Central Bank.
  7. Esposito, Piero & Paradiso, Antonio & Rao, B. Bhaskara, 2011. "The dynamics of Spanish public debt and sustainable paths for fiscal consolidation," MPRA Paper 32563, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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