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Fiscal Discipline as a Social Norm: The European Stability Pact

This paper reviews the arguments for and against the ‘Stability and Growth Pact’ signed by the countries of the Euro area. We find the theoretical debate to be inconclusive, as both externality and credibility arguments can be used to yield opposite, and equally plausible conclusions. We also argue that evidence in favour of a Pact-like rule is scant. We therefore suggest the view that the Stability Pact is a public social norm, and that a country’s adherence to that norm is in fact a response to the need to preserve reputation among the other members of the European Union. Using this extreme but not implausible hypothesis, we build a simple model similar in spirit to Akerlof’s (1980) seminal paper on social norms, and we show that reputation issues may cause the emergence of a stable but inferior equilibrium. We further show that after the enlargement, with a number of countries anxious to prove their ‘soundness’ joining the club, the problems posed by the pact/social norm are likely to increase.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2007-22.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:0722
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  1. repec:hrv:faseco:3353756 is not listed on IDEAS
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  13. Ardagna, Silvia & Lane, Timothy & Caselli, Francesco, 2007. "Fiscal Discipline and the Cost of Public Debt Service: Some Estimates for OECD Countries," Scholarly Articles 2579739, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  27. Ardagna, Silvia & Caselli, Francesco & Lane, Timothy, 2004. "Fiscal discipline and the cost of public dept service: some estiames for OECD countries," Working Paper Series 0411, European Central Bank.
  28. Yash P. Mehra, 1992. "Deficits and long-term interest rates: an empirical note," Working Paper 92-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  29. Steven R. Cunningham & Jon Vilasuso, 1995. "Is Keynesian Demand Management Policy Still Viable?," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 17(2), pages 187-210, January.
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  31. Andersen, Torben M. & Sorensen, Jan Rose, 1995. "Unemployment and fiscal policy in an economic and monetary union," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 27-43, March.
  32. Caporale, Guglielmo Maria & Williams, Geoffrey, 2002. "Long-term nominal interest rates and domestic fundamentals," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 119-130.
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