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Institutions for Fiscal Stability

  • Eichengreen, Barry

This paper reviews the controversy over Europe’s Stability and Growth Pact and offers a proposal for its reform. It argues that Europe would be best served by focusing on the fundamental causes of unsustainable debts — public enterprises that are too big to fail, unfunded public pension schemes that are too big to ignore, inefficient and costly labor market and social welfare problems, and budget making institutions that create common pool and free-rider problems — rather than on arbitrary numerical indicators like whether the budget deficit is above or below 3 per cent of GDP. It proposes defining an index of institutional reform with, say, a point each for reform of budget making arrangements, reform of public pension schemes, and reform of labor markets and unemployment insurance. Countries receiving three points would be exempt from the Pact’s numerical guidelines, since there is no reason to think that they will be prone to chronic deficits. The others, whose weak institutions render them susceptible to chronic deficits, would in contrast still be subject to its warnings, sanctions and fines. Keywords: Stability Pact, fiscal policy, Europe

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Paper provided by Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley in its series Institute of European Studies, Working Paper Series with number qt34p6v7pt.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:bineur:qt34p6v7pt
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  1. Buiter, Willem H. & Grafe, Clemens, 2002. "Patching up the Pact: some Suggestions for Enhancing Fiscal Sustainability and Macroeconomic Stability in an Enlarged European Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 3496, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Beetsma, R.M.W.J. & Bovenberg, A.L., 1995. "Monetary Union without Fiscal Coordination May Discipline Policymakers," DELTA Working Papers 95-22, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  3. Coricelli, Fabrizio & Ercolani, Valerio, 2002. "Cyclical and Structural Deficits on the Road to Accession: Fiscal Rules for an Enlarged European Union," CEPR Discussion Papers 3672, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. von Hagen, Jurgen & Harden, Ian J., 1995. "Budget processes and commitment to fiscal discipline," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 771-779, April.
  5. Barry Eichengreen & Ricardo Hausmann & Jürgen Von Hagen, 1999. "Reforming Budgetary Institutions in Latin America: The Case for a National Fiscal Council," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 415-442, October.
  6. Uhlig, Harald, 2002. "One Money, but Many Fiscal Policies in Europe: What Are the Consequences?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. M. Buti & D. Franco & H. Ongena, 1997. "Budgetary Policies during Recessions - Retrospective Application of the "Stability and Growth Pact" to the Post-War Period," European Economy - Economic Papers 121, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  8. Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 1998. "The Stability Pact: more than a minor nuisance?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 65-113, 04.
  9. von Hagen, Jürgen, 1998. "Budgeting institutions for aggregate fiscal discipline," ZEI Working Papers B 01-1998, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  10. Gleich, Holger, 2003. "Budget institutions and fiscal performance in Central and Eastern European countries," Working Paper Series 0215, European Central Bank.
  11. Dixit, Avinash & Lambertini, Luisa, 2003. "Symbiosis of monetary and fiscal policies in a monetary union," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 235-247, August.
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