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Fiscal Rules and the Budget Process


  • Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti

    () (Research Department, International Monetary Fund and CEPR)


This paper examines the rationale for the imposition of fiscal rules as a way to reduce budgetary imbalances. It presents theoretical arguments for the existence of a “fiscal deficit bias” and the empirical evidence on the economic, political and institutional factors leading to this bias. In the context of these findings, it discusses the potential role of legal constraints on the level of key fiscal variables and of reforms in budgetary procedures in enhancing fiscal discipline. It also evaluates proposals for budgetary reform in Italy.

Suggested Citation

  • Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 1997. "Fiscal Rules and the Budget Process," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 56(1-2), pages 5-40, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gde:journl:gde_v56_n1-2_p5-40

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Allison C Schrager & George A Mackenzie, 2004. "Can the Private Annuity Market Provide Secure Retirement Income?," IMF Working Papers 04/230, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Carlo Mazzaferro & Marcello Morciano, 2011. "Measuring intra-generational and inter-generational redistribution in the reformed Italian social security system," Working Papers 11, Department of the Treasury, Ministry of the Economy and of Finance.
    3. Giuseppe Carone & Herwig Immervoll & Dominique Paturot & Aino Salomäki, 2004. "Indicators of Unemployment and Low-Wage Traps: Marginal Effective Tax Rates on Employment Incomes," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 18, OECD Publishing.
    4. Chłoń-Domińczak, Agnieszka & Strzelecki, Paweł, 2013. "The minimum pension as an instrument of poverty protection in the defined contribution pension system – an example of Poland," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 326-350, July.
    5. Carlo Mazzaferro & Marcello Morciano, 2008. "CAPP_DYN: A Dynamic Microsimulation Model for the Italian Social Security System," Department of Economics 0595, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    6. Cannon, Edmund & Tonks, Ian, 2003. "UK annuity rates and pension replacement ratios 1957-2002," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24832, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Monika Queisser & Edward R. Whitehouse, 2006. "Neutral or Fair?: Actuarial Concepts and Pension-System Design," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 40, OECD Publishing.
    8. Mazzaferro, Carlo & Morciano, Marcello & Savegnago, Marco, 2012. "Differential mortality and redistribution in the Italian notional defined contribution system," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 500-530, October.
    9. repec:mod:cappmo:0035 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Giovanni Guazzarotti & Pietro Tommasino, 2008. "The Annuity Market in an Evolving Pension System: Lessons from Italy," CeRP Working Papers 77, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
    11. Baldini Massimo & Mazzaferro Carlo & Morciano Marcello, 2008. "Assessing the implications of long-term care policies in Italy: a microsimulation approach," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 47-72.
    12. Edward R. Whitehouse, 2010. "Decomposing Notional Defined-Contribution Pensions: Experience of OECD Countries' Reforms," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 109, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert A.J. Dur & Ben D. Peletier & Otto H. Swank, 1997. "The Effect of Fiscal Rules on Public Investment if Budget Deficits are Politically Motivated," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 97-125/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Francesco Lagona & Fabio Padovano, 2007. "A nonlinear principal component analysis of the relationship between budget rules and fiscal performance in the European Union," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 401-436, March.
    3. Magda Kandil & Hanan Morsy, 2014. "Fiscal Stimulus and Credibility in Emerging Countries," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 420-439, June.
    4. Chakraborty, Pinaki & Dash, Bharatee Bhusana, 2013. "Fiscal Reforms, Fiscal Rule and Development Spending: How Indian States have Performed?," Working Papers 13/122, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
    5. Guiseppe Pisauro, 2001. "Intergovernmental Relations and Fiscal Discipline; Between Commons and Soft Budget Constraints," IMF Working Papers 01/65, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Frank Bodmer, 2006. "The Swiss Debt Brake: How it Works and What Can Go Wrong," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 142(III), pages 307-330, September.
    7. Gerry Boyle; & Jim O'Leary, 1997. "Controlling Public Spending in Times of Plenty," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n741197, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.

    More about this item


    fiscal deficit; government spending; fiscal rules; budget process;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus


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