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The German 'debt brake': A shining example for European fiscal policy?

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  • Truger, Achim
  • Will, Henner
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    Abstract

    Many observers consider the German 'debt brake' beyond criticism. In the current crisis, many European countries have difficulties refinancing their budgets, while the German treasury's funding conditions are most favourable. The 'fiscal compact's' call for the introduction of German-style 'debt brakes' in the constitutions of other countries in order to rebuild their credibility on financial markets therefore might seem reasonable. However, there are several reasons to doubt the underlying (macro-) economic reasoning. Two specific problems of the German debt brake are analysed in greater detail: Firstly, the German rule is neither simple nor transparent. The calculation of structural deficits is a complex matter highly sensitive to specification and therefore open to political manipulation. Secondly, the debt brake will ultimately have a pro-cyclical effect because of the way the commonly used cyclical adjustment method works. This will, as a result, destabilise the economy. The German debt brake can therefore hardly serve as a good example for other countries. --

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE) in its series IPE Working Papers with number 15/2012.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:ipewps:152012

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    Keywords: Germany; debt brake; Euro zone; Euro crisis; sovereign debt;

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    1. Gustav A. Horn & Torsten Niechoj & Christian R. Proaño & Achim Truger & Dieter Vesper & Rudolf Zwiener, 2008. "Die Schuldenbremse - eine Wachstumsbremse?," IMK Report 29-2008, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    2. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2005. "What ever happened to Germany? Is the decline of the former European key currency country caused by structural sclerosis or by macroeconomic mismanagement?," Macroeconomics 0501007, EconWPA.
    3. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2006. "Germany's post-2000 stagnation in the European context - a lesson in macroeconomic mismanagement," IMK Working Paper 03-2006, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    4. Stephen Cecchetti & Madhusudan Mohanty & Fabrizio Zampolli, 2011. "The real effects of debt," BIS Working Papers 352, Bank for International Settlements.
    5. Reinhart, Carmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," CEPR Discussion Papers 7661, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Francesca D'Auria & Cécile Denis & Karel Havik & Kieran Mc Morrow & Christophe Planas & Rafal Raciborski & Werner Roger & Alessandro Rossi, 2010. "The production function methodology for calculating potential growth rates and output gaps," European Economy - Economic Papers 420, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    7. Gustav Horn & Camille Logeay & Silke Tober, 2007. "Estimating Germany's Potential Output," IMK Working Paper 02-2007, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    8. Reinhart, Carmen M. & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," Scholarly Articles 11129154, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    9. Gustav A. Horn & Torsten Niechoj & Silke Tober & Till van Treeck & Achim Truger, 2010. "Reforming the European Stability and Growth Pact: Public Debt is Not the Only Factor, Private Debt Counts as Well," IMK Report 51e-2010, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
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    Cited by:
    1. Jorg Bibow, 2013. "Lost at Sea: The Euro Needs a Euro Treasury," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_780, Levy Economics Institute.

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