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Macroeconomics and Politics in the Accumulation of Greece’s Debt: An econometric investigation, 1975-2009

  • George Alogoskoufis

This paper focuses on an econometric investigation of the macroeconomic and political factors that contributed to Greece’s excessive debt accumulation and its failure to adequately address its fiscal imbalances, from the restoration of democracy in 1974 till the crisis of 2009. The econometric investigation is based on a model in which two political parties alternate in power, and in which governments choose primary expenditure and taxes to minimize deviations from politically determined expenditure and tax targets, subject to a debt accumulation equation. The model predicts a political equilibrium in which primary expenditure and taxes follow feedback rules which go in the direction of stabilizing the debt to GDP ratio. However, this stabilization incentive is weaker in election years. The model also predicts potential partisan differences in the evolution of primary expenditure and taxes, due to the different preferences of political parties. Estimates of government reaction functions to public debt for the period 1975-2009 suggest a rather weak stabilizing reaction of primary deficits to public debt. This stabilizing reaction disappears in election years, which are characterized by strong fiscal expansions. We find no evidence of partisan differences in the reaction of primary deficits to inherited debt, but we do find evidence of lower primary deficits in the post-1992 Maastricht treaty period. Overall the model accounts for the accumulation of Greece’s government debt in terms of the trend increase in primary expenditure, the positive shocks to primary expenditure in election years and the weak stabilizing reaction of government revenue, due to tax smoothing.

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Paper provided by Hellenic Observatory, LSE in its series GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe with number 68.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hel:greese:68
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  1. George Alogoskoufis, 2012. "Greece’s Sovereign Debt Crisis: Retrospect and Prospect," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 54, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  2. Nicos Christodoulakis, 2012. "Currency crisis and collapse in interwar Greece: Predicament or Policy Failure?," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 60, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  3. Achilleas Anagnostopoulos & Stanley Siebert, 2012. "The impact of Greek labour market regulation on temporary and family employment - Evidence from a new survey," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 62, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  4. Yannis Kechagiaras, 2012. "Why did Greece block the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia? An Analysis of Greek Foreign Policy Behaviour Shifts," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 58, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  5. Stella Ladi, 2012. "The Eurozone Crisis and Austerity Politics: A Trigger for Administrative Reform in Greece?," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 57, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  6. Vassilis Monastiriotis & Yiannis Psycharis, 2011. "Without purpose and strategy?: a spatio-functional analysis of the regional allocation of public investment in Greece," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 38377, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Yannis Valinakis, 2012. "Greece’s European Policy Making," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 63, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  8. Christos Lyrintzis, 2011. "Greek Politics in the Era of Economic Crisis: Reassessing Causes and Effects," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 45, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  9. Anastassios Chardas, 2012. "Multi-level governance and the application of the partnership principle in times of economic crisis in Greece," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 56, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  10. Nicholas Apergis, 2011. "Characteristics of inflation in Greece: Mean Spillover Effects among CPI Components," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 43, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  11. Nikos Chrysoloras, 2013. "Rebuilding eurozone's ground zero: a review of the Greek economic crisis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 48254, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Helen Caraveli & Efthymios G. Tsionas, 2012. "Economic Restructuring, Crises and the Regions: The Political Economy of Regional Inequalities in Greece," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 61, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  13. Georgia Kaplanoglou & Vassilis T. Rapanos, 2011. "The Greek Fiscal Crisis and the Role of Fiscal Governance," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 48, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  14. Nikos Chrysoloras, 2013. "Rebuilding Eurozone’s Ground Zero. A review of the Greek economic crisis," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 66, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  15. Spyros Skouras & Nicos Christodoulakis, 2011. "Electoral Misgovernance Cycles: Evidence from wildfires and tax evasion in Greece and elsewhere," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 47, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  16. Melina Skouroliakou, 2012. "The Communication Factor in Greek Foreign Policy: An Analysis," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 55, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  17. Christos Lyrintzis, 2011. "Greek politics in the era of economic crisis: reassessing causes and effects," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33826, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  18. Alexis Heraclides, 2011. "The Essence of the Greek-Turkish Rivalry: National Narrative and Identity," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 51, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
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