IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A new fiscal policy for Germany


  • Philippa Sigl-Gloeckner

    (Dezernat Zukunft)

  • Max Krahé

    (Dezernat Zukunft)

  • Pola Schneemelcher

    (Dezernat Zukunft)

  • Florian Schuster

    (Universitaet zu Koeln)

  • Viola Hilbert

    (Deutschen Instituts fuer Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW))

  • Henrika Meyer

    (Mercator Research Institute for Global Commons and Climate Change)


The sustainability of public finances should be measured by the debt-to-GDP ratio; the debt-to-GDP ratio is best controlled by keeping the deficit in check. For decades, these ideas shaped German fiscal policy. In 2009, with the introduction of the debt brake, this approach found its way into the German constitution. Recent research, however, has shown that this paradigm yields suboptimal results in the current environment: It neither ensures the long-term sustainability of public finances, nor limits external imbalances, nor effectively contributes to solving the challenges Germany faces today, in particular decarbonisation and demographic change. As this is increasingly being recognised, a lively debate on the future of fiscal rules has developed, both in Germany and internationally. This working paper contributes to that debate by developing reform ideas that depart from a positive goal for fiscal policy rather than from the deficiencies of the current rules. The paper starts off with an overview over the current reform debate. Following this literature review, three closely related questions are answered: what is the right objective for fiscal policy? What might an institutional framework look like to put this objective into practice? And what concrete, politically realistic reform options could move us in that direction? In response to the three questions, we identify sustainable full capacity utilisation of the economy as a sound objective for fiscal policy; make a proposal for a framework consisting of four components; and develop detailed proposals for initial re-form steps to begin implementing this framework in Germany, including an adjustment of the cyclical component of the debt brake (governed by ordinary law), introducing an investment fund for municipal investments, and adding a watchman indicator for rising interest costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippa Sigl-Gloeckner & Max Krahé & Pola Schneemelcher & Florian Schuster & Viola Hilbert & Henrika Meyer, 2021. "A new fiscal policy for Germany," Working Papers 2a, Forum New Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:agz:wpaper:2102a

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2021
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sebastian Gechert & Katja Rietzler & Sven Schreiber & Ulrike Stein, 2019. "Wirtschaftliche Instrumente für eine klima- und sozialverträgliche CO2-Bepreisung," IMK Studies 65-2019, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    2. Olivier J Blanchard, 2019. "Public Debt: Fiscal and Welfare Costs in a Time of Low Interest Rates," Policy Briefs PB19-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    3. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-578, May.
    4. Olivier Blanchard, 2019. "Public Debt and Low Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(4), pages 1197-1229, April.
    5. Bardt, Hubertus & Dullien, Sebastian & Hüther, Michael & Rietzler, Katja, 2019. "Für eine solide Finanzpolitik: Investitionen ermöglichen!," IW policy papers 10/2019, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) / German Economic Institute.
    6. Bouabdallah, Othman & Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Freier, Maximilian & Muggenthaler, Philip & Müller, Georg & Nerlich, Carolin & Sławińska, Kamila, 2020. "Automatic fiscal stabilisers in the euro area and the COVID-19 crisis," Economic Bulletin Articles, European Central Bank, vol. 6.
    7. Misch, Florian & Wolff, Peter, 2008. "The returns on public investment: concepts, evidence and policy challenges," Discussion Papers 25/2008, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE).
    8. Danny Yagan, 2019. "Employment Hysteresis from the Great Recession," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(5), pages 2505-2558.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Philippa Sigl-Gloeckner & Max Krahé & Pola Schneemelcher & Florian Schuster & Viola Hilbert & Henrika Meyer, 2021. "Eine neue deutsche Finanzpolitik," Working Papers 2, Forum New Economy.
    2. Christoph M. Schmidt, 2020. "The German Debt Brake on Trial: Not Guilty," CESifo Forum, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 21(01), pages 35-40, April.
    3. Schilirò, Daniele, 2020. "COVID-19 crisis and the public debt issue:The case of Italy," MPRA Paper 103997, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Nov 2020.
    4. Jan Priewe, 2020. "Why 60 and 3 percent? European debt and deficit rules - critique and alternatives," IMK Studies 66-2020, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    5. Jussi Lindgren, 2021. "Examination of Interest-Growth Differentials and the Risk of Sovereign Insolvency," Risks, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-14, April.
    6. El-Shagi, Makram & Schweinitz, Gregor von, 2021. "Fiscal policy and fiscal fragility: Empirical evidence from the OECD," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 115(C).
    7. Guillaume Cléaud & Francisco de Castro Fernández & Jorge Durán Laguna & Lucia Granelli & Martin Hallet & Anne Jaubertie & Carlos Maravall Rodriguez & Diana Ognyanova & Balazs Palvolgyi & Tsvetan Tsali, 2019. "Cruising at Different Speeds: Similarities and Divergences between the German and the French Economies," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 103, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    8. Nikolaos Filippakis & Theodoros V. Stamatopoulos, 2021. "Public Debt and Economic Growth: A Review of Contemporary Literature," South-Eastern Europe Journal of Economics, Association of Economic Universities of South and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region, vol. 19(1), pages 33-50.
    9. Luca Metelli & Kevin Pallara, 2020. "Fiscal space and the size of the fiscal multiplier," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1293, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    10. Peppel-Srebrny, Jemima, 2021. "Not all government budget deficits are created equal: Evidence from advanced economies' sovereign bond markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).
    11. Silke Tober, 2021. "Inflation 2021: kein geldpolitischer Handlungsbedarf," Wirtschaftsdienst, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 101(9), pages 681-684, September.
    12. Johannes Blum & Klaus Gründler & Raphael de Britto Schiller & Niklas Potrafke, 2019. "Die Schuldenbremse in der Diskussion – Teilnehmer des Ökonomenpanels mehrheitlich für Beibehaltung," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 72(22), pages 27-33, November.
    13. Simeon Djankov & Ugo Panizza, 2020. "Developing economies after COVID-19: An introduction," Vox eBook Chapters, in: Simeon Djankov & Ugo Panizza (ed.), COVID-19 in Developing Economies, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 8-23, Centre for Economic Policy Research.
    14. Jordi Galí, 2016. "Monetary policy and bubbles in a new Keynesian model with overlapping generations," Economics Working Papers 1561, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2020.
    15. Henry Mooney & MariÌ a Alejandra Zegarra, 2020. "Extreme outlier: The pandemic’s unprecedented shock to tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean," Vox eBook Chapters, in: Simeon Djankov & Ugo Panizza (ed.), COVID-19 in Developing Economies, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 112-126, Centre for Economic Policy Research.
    16. John Cochrane, . "The fiscal root of inflation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Jappelli, Ruggero & Pelizzon, Loriana & Plazzi, Alberto, 2021. "The core, the periphery, and the disaster: Corporate-sovereign nexus in COVID-19 times," SAFE Working Paper Series 331, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    18. Casalin, Fabrizio & Dia, Enzo & Hughes Hallett, Andrew, 2020. "Public debt dynamics with tax revenue constraints," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 501-515.
    19. Sindzingre, Alice, 2021. "Truth vs. justification: Contrasting heterodox and mainstream thinking on development via the example of austerity in Africa," IPE Working Papers 155/2021, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    20. Christian Breuer, 2020. "Goverment Debt Post COVID-19: Back To Golden Rules," Chemnitz Economic Papers 041, Department of Economics, Chemnitz University of Technology, revised Feb 2020.

    More about this item


    Fiscal Policy; Fiscal Rules; Debt Brake; Debt Management;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:agz:wpaper:2102a. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Xhulia Likaj (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.