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Under Threat: Rules-Based Fiscal Policy and How to Preserve It

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  • Debrun, Xavier

    (International Monetary Fund)

  • Jonung, Lars

    (Department of Economics, Lund University)

Abstract

Rules-based fiscal policy is under threat. Over the last two decades, it proved frustratingly complicated to strike the right balance between three essential properties of sound fiscal policy rules: simplicity, flexibility, and enforceability. Simplicity has been sacrificed to ensure that more contingent (i.e. flexible) rules remained enforceable. The resulting arrangements have failed to adequately guide fiscal policy, undermining formal compliance, and ultimately, popular and political support for rules. To mitigate the risk that countries abandon rules-based policymaking, we suggest downplaying enforceability—i.e. the role of formal sanctions through enforcement—and enhancing the reputational costs of breaching rules. At the limit, the rule could consist of a simple quantitative benchmark for a key fiscal indicator. To boost reputational effects, independent fiscal councils should focus on debunking the "fiscal alchemy", clearing the public debate from partisan smokescreens, and fostering popular support for sound fiscal policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Debrun, Xavier & Jonung, Lars, 2018. "Under Threat: Rules-Based Fiscal Policy and How to Preserve It," Working Papers 2018:29, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2018_029
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    Cited by:

    1. Amélie Barbier-Gauchard & Kea Baret & Alexandru Minea, 2021. "National fiscal rules and fiscal discipline in the European Union," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(20), pages 2337-2359, April.
    2. Debrun, Xavier, 2019. "Independent Fiscal Institutions in the European Union: Is Coordination Required?," MPRA Paper 93143, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Kea BARET & Theophilos PAPADIMITRIOU, 2019. "On the Stability and Growth Pact compliance: what is predictable with machine learning?," Working Papers of BETA 2019-48, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    4. Gootjes, Bram & de Haan, Jakob, 2022. "Procyclicality of fiscal policy in European Union countries," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    5. Carlos Fonseca Marinheiro, 2021. "The Expenditure Benchmark: Complex and Unsuitable for Independent Fiscal Institutions," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 63(3), pages 411-431, September.
    6. Andersson, Fredrik N. G. & Jonung, Lars, 2019. "The Swedish Fiscal Framework – The Most Successful One in the EU?," Working Papers 2019:6, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    7. Ardanaz, Martín & Cavallo, Eduardo & Izquierdo, Alejandro & Puig, Jorge, 2021. "Growth-friendly fiscal rules? Safeguarding public investment from budget cuts through fiscal rule design," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).
    8. Andersson, Fredrik N. G. & Jonung, Lars, 2022. "The Risks of Adopting the Bond Yield as the Anchor for the EU Fiscal Framework," Working Papers 2022:1, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    9. Afonso, António & Huart, Florence & Tovar Jalles, João & Stanek, Piotr, 2022. "Twin deficits revisited: A role for fiscal institutions?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 121(C).
    10. European Fiscal Board (EFB), 2021. "2021 annual report of the European Fiscal Board," Annual reports 2021, European Fiscal Board.
    11. Kea BARET, 2021. "Fiscal rules’ compliance and Social Welfare," Working Papers of BETA 2021-38, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    12. Momi Dahan & Itamar Yakir, 2022. "Revealed political favoritism: evidence from the allocation of state lottery grants in Israel," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 190(3), pages 387-406, March.
    13. Jankovics, László, 2021. "Költségvetési tanácsok az EU-ban - ölebek, vérebek vagy őrkutyák? [Fiscal councils in the EU: lapdogs, watchdogs or bloodhounds?]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(3), pages 251-281.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal policy rules; Euro area; fiscal policy; independent fiscal councils;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • F61 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Microeconomic Impacts

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