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The sustainable borders of the state


  • Dieter Helm


Economic crises have historically set the stage for the reconfiguration of the economic borders of the state. Current concerns focus on debt and associated intergenerational issues, such as pensions, infrastructure, and the environment. The sustainable state is designed to put in place a framework for integrating these intergenerational issues, alongside the traditional focus on macroeconomic policy, static market failures, and transfers. The building blocks include the accounting framework and, in particular, a national balance sheet setting out assets and liabilities, and providing for capital maintenance over time. To support these assets and to provide for sufficient investment, the sustainable state requires an appropriate level of savings, and institutions to translate these savings into investments. Two components are: the deployment of regulatory asset bases to underpin long-term sunk and fixed costs, given the time inconsistency problem in government's commitments; and the development of financial intermediaries such as an infrastructure bank. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Dieter Helm, 2011. "The sustainable borders of the state," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(4), pages 517-535.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:27:y:2011:i:4:p:517-535

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rolf J. Langhammer, 2005. "The EU Offer of Service Trade Liberalization in the Doha Round: Evidence of a Not-Yet-Perfect Customs Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 311-325, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kelbesa Megersa & Danny Cassimon, 2015. "Public Debt, Economic Growth, and Public Sector Management in Developing Countries: Is There a Link?," Public Administration & Development, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(5), pages 329-346, December.
    2. Frank W. Geels, 2013. "The impact of the financial-economic crisis on sustainability transitions: Financial investment, governance and public discourse," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 39, WWWforEurope.

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