IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/10069.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A Surplus of Ambition: Can Europe Rely on Large Primary Surpluses to Solve its Debt Problem?

Author

Listed:
  • Eichengreen, Barry
  • Panizza, Ugo

Abstract

IMF forecasts and the EU’s Fiscal Compact foresee Europe’s heavily indebted countries running primary budget surpluses of as much as 5 percent of GDP for as long as 10 years in order to maintain debt sustainability and bring their debt/GDP ratios down to the Compact’s 60 percent target. We show that primary surpluses this large and persistent are rare. In an extensive sample of high- and middle-income countries there are just 3 (nonoverlapping) episodes where countries ran primary surpluses of at least 5 per cent of GDP for 10 years. Analyzing a less restrictive definition of persistent surplus episodes (primary surpluses averaging at least 3 percent of GDP for 5 years), we find that surplus episodes are more likely when growth is strong, when the current account of the balance of payments is in surplus (savings rates are high), when the debt-to-GDP ratio is high (heightening the urgency of fiscal adjustment), and when the governing party controls all houses of parliament or congress (its bargaining position is strong). Left wing governments, strikingly, are more likely to run large, persistent primary surpluses. In advanced countries, proportional representation electoral systems that give rise to encompassing coalitions are associated with surplus episodes. The point estimates do not provide much encouragement for the view that a country like Italy will be able to run a primary budget surplus as large and persistent as officially projected.

Suggested Citation

  • Eichengreen, Barry & Panizza, Ugo, 2014. "A Surplus of Ambition: Can Europe Rely on Large Primary Surpluses to Solve its Debt Problem?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10069, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10069
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10069
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrea Pescatori & Damiano Sandri & John Simon, 2014. "Debt and Growth; Is There a Magic Threshold?," IMF Working Papers 14/34, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Panizza, Ugo & Presbitero, Andrea F., 2014. "Public debt and economic growth: Is there a causal effect?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 21-41.
    3. Roubini, Nouriel & Sachs, Jeffrey D., 1989. "Political and economic determinants of budget deficits in the industrial democracies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 903-933, May.
    4. Oya Celasun & Xavier Debrun & Jonathan D. Ostry, 2006. "Primary Surplus Behavior and Risks to Fiscal Sustainability in Emerging Market Countries: A "Fan-Chart" Approach," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 53(3), pages 1-3.
    5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2015. "Financial and Sovereign Debt Crises: Some Lessons Learned and Those Forgotten," Journal of Banking and Financial Economics, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 2(4), pages 5-17, June.
    6. Salvatore Dell’Erba & Ricardo Hausmann & Ugo Panizza, 2013. "Debt levels, debt composition, and sovereign spreads in emerging and advanced economies," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 518-547, AUTUMN.
    7. Mauro, Paolo & Romeu, Rafael & Binder, Ariel & Zaman, Asad, 2015. "A modern history of fiscal prudence and profligacy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 55-70.
    8. Emanuele Bacchiocchi & Elisa Borghi & Alessandro Missale, 2011. "Public Investment under Fiscal Constraints," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 32(1), pages 11-42, March.
    9. Kenneth Bercuson, 1995. "Singapore; A Case Study in Rapid Development," IMF Occasional Papers 119, International Monetary Fund.
    10. Borensztein, Eduardo & Cowan, Kevin & Valenzuela, Patricio, 2013. "Sovereign ceilings “lite”? The impact of sovereign ratings on corporate ratings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4014-4024.
    11. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1989. "Introduction to "Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System"," NBER Chapters,in: Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System, pages 1-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. De Grauwe, Paul & Ji, Yuemei, 2013. "Self-fulfilling crises in the Eurozone: An empirical test," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 15-36.
    13. Anthony Atkinson & Timothy Smeeding & Lee Rainwater, 1994. "Income Distribution in European Countries," LIS Working papers 121, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    14. Jón R. Blöndal, 2006. "Budgeting in Singapore," OECD Journal on Budgeting, OECD Publishing, vol. 6(1), pages 45-85.
    15. Schick, Allen, 1998. "Why Most Developing Countries Should Not Try New Zealand's Reforms," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 13(1), pages 123-131, February.
    16. Daniel Leigh & Etibar Jafarov, 2007. "Alternative Fiscal Rules for Norway," IMF Working Papers 07/241, International Monetary Fund.
    17. Nouriel Roubini & Jeffrey Sachs, 1989. "Government Spending and Budget Deficits in the Industrial Economies," NBER Working Papers 2919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Jakob Haan & Richard Jong-A-Pin & Jochen Mierau, 2013. "Do budgetary institutions mitigate the common pool problem? New empirical evidence for the EU," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 423-441, September.
    19. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1989. "Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance, Volume 1: The International Financial System," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number sach89-1.
    20. Alessandro MISSALE & Emanuele BACCHIOCCHI & Elisa BORGHI, 2009. "Public investment under fiscal constraints," Departmental Working Papers 2009-45, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    21. Bale, Malcolm & Dale, Tony, 1998. "Public Sector Reform in New Zealand and Its Relevance to Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 13(1), pages 103-121, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:weltar:v:154:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10290-017-0301-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:575-:d:95364 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jmacro:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:238-248 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Cavallo, Eduardo & Eichengreen, Barry & Panizza, Ugo, 2016. "Can Countries Rely on Foreign Saving for Investment and Economic Development?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11451, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Nicholas Crafts, 2016. "Reducing High Public Debt Ratios: Lessons from UK Experience," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 37, pages 201-223, June.
    6. repec:gam:jscscx:v:7:y:2018:i:1:p:9-:d:125740 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Schilirò, Daniele, 2016. "Rules, Imbalances and Growth in the Eurozone," MPRA Paper 75641, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Frankel, Jeffrey, 2015. "The euro crisis: Where to from here?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 428-444.
    9. repec:eee:poleco:v:54:y:2018:i:c:p:145-166 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:kap:jbuset:v:150:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3193-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Robertson, D. & Tambakis, D., 2016. "Long-Run Debt Ratios with Fiscal Fatigue," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1674, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    12. Barry Eichengreen & Asmaa El-Ganainy & Rui Esteves & Kris James Mitchener, 2019. "Public Debt Through the Ages," NBER Working Papers 25494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Mario Coccia, 2018. "National debts and government deficits within European Monetary Union: Statistical evidence of economic issues," Papers 1806.07830, arXiv.org.
    14. Warmedinger, Thomas & Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Drudi, Francesco & Setzer, Ralph & De Stefani, Roberta & Bouabdallah, Othman & Westphal, Andreas, 2017. "Debt sustainability analysis for euro area sovereigns: a methodological framework," Occasional Paper Series 185, European Central Bank.
    15. Checherita-Westphal, Cristina & Žďárek, Václav, 2017. "Fiscal reaction function and fiscal fatigue: evidence for the euro area," Working Paper Series 2036, European Central Bank.
    16. Timm M. Prein & Almuth Scholl, 2018. "The Impact of Bailouts on Political Turnover and Sovereign Default Risk," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2018-04, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    17. Lewis, Daniel J., 2018. "Robust inference in models identified via heteroskedasticity," Staff Reports 876, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    18. repec:bkr:journl:v:77:y:2018:i:1:p:71-107 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Eduardo Cavallo & Barry Eichengreen & Ugo Panizza, 2018. "Can countries rely on foreign saving for investment and economic development?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 154(2), pages 277-306, May.
    20. Betty Daniel, Christos Shiamptanis, 2015. "Predicting Sovereign Fiscal Crises: High-Debt Developed Countries," LCERPA Working Papers 0090, Laurier Centre for Economic Research and Policy Analysis, revised 05 May 2015.
    21. Oliver Picek, 2018. "Kann nationale Konjunkturpolitik noch Beschäftigung schaffen?," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 180, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.
    22. Alberto Botta, 2016. "The Short- and Long-run Inconsistency of the Expansionary Austerity Theory: A Post-Keynesian/Evolutionist Critique," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_878, Levy Economics Institute.
    23. Katia Berti & Eugeniu Colesnic & Cyril Desponts & Stephanie Pamies & Etienne Sail, 2016. "Fiscal Reaction Functions for European Union Countries," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 028, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    24. repec:eee:joecas:v:15:y:2017:i:c:p:17-31 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Eichengreen, Barry, 2015. "How the euro crisis ends: Not with a bang but a whimper," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 415-422.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • F0 - International Economics - - General
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:cpr:ceprdp:10069. 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 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.

    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.