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New constitutional “debt brakes” for Euroland? A question of institutional complementarity

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  • Karsten Mause

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  • Friedrich Groeteke

Abstract

Despite the EU Stability & Growth Pact and existing constitutional limits on public deficit/debt at the (sub)national level in many EU member countries, in the wake of the 2010 Greek bailout, many politicians and policy advisors have proposed new constitutional “debt brakes” to prevent future fiscal crises and bailouts. This paper puts a question mark behind this popular policy recommendation. Public choice scholars and other critical observers have repeatedly emphasised that constitutional deficit/debt limits are not per se credible commitments to run a sound fiscal policy in the future. To demonstrate this, design defects of such fiscal constraints are usually pointed out (no politically independent control, no sanctions, etc.). Going beyond this standard approach of credibility assessment, this paper argues for taking the issue of institutional complementarity seriously. To assess its credibility, one has to not only examine the design of a deficit/debt limit but also the institutional environment (tax/expenditure policy, capital market, etc.) in which such a constitutional commitment is embedded. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Karsten Mause & Friedrich Groeteke, 2012. "New constitutional “debt brakes” for Euroland? A question of institutional complementarity," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 279-301, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:23:y:2012:i:4:p:279-301
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-012-9125-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem & Christoph Schinke, 2016. "Debt Brakes in the German States: Governments’ Rhetoric and Actions," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 17(2), pages 253-275, May.
    2. Guido Baldi, 2016. "Fiscal policy rules, budget deficits, and forecasting biases," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 185-194, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public debt; Constitutional borrowing limits; Credible commitment; Institutional complementarity; E62; H61; H62; H63;

    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
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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