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Problems of Soft Budget Constraints in Intergovernmental Relationships: The Case of Italy

  • Massimo Bordignon

Problems of `soft budget` constraints in intergovernmental relationships are currently at the frontier of research in local public economics. This paper reviews the Italian experience in the field, starting from the mid-1970s up to the present period, compares it with that of other countries, and uses it to comment upon the state of the literature. The paper argues that the soft budget constraint problem has been a rampant one in Italian local public finance, generating efficiency losses, lack of political accountability and undermining the soundness of public finances. The paper inquires into the causes and possible solutions to the problem, and in particular describes and comments upon the decentralization process of the 1990s. Finally, the Italian debate on fiscal federalism of the 1990s is also reviewed, arguing that some of the suggestions of this debate may be of interest more generally.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 3099.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3099
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  1. 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.
  2. Mathias Dewatripont & Eric Maskin, 2004. "Credit and efficiency in centralized and decentralized economies," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9605, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Bordignon, Massimo & Minelli, Enrico, 2001. "Rules transparency and political accountability," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 73-98, April.
  4. Bordignon, Massimo & Manasse, Paolo & Tabellini, Guido, 1996. "Optimal Regional Redistribution Under Asymmetric Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 1437, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Massimo Bordignon & Paolo Manasse & Guido Tabellini, . "Come Fare la Perequazione Regionale in Italia? Parte I," Working Papers 107, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  6. Teresa Garcia-Milà & Timothy J. Goodspeed & Therese J. McGuire, 2001. "Fiscal decentralization policies and sub-national government debt in evolving federations," Economics Working Papers 549, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2002.
  7. Massimo Bordignon & Alberto Zanardi, 1997. "Tax Evasion in Italy," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 56(3-4), pages 169-210, December.
  8. Gordon, Roger H, 1983. "An Optimal Taxation Approach to Fiscal Federalism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 567-86, November.
  9. János Kornai, 2014. "The soft budget constraint," Acta Oeconomica, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 64(supplemen), pages 25-79, November.
  10. von Hagen, Jurgen & Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Federalism, Fiscal Restraints, and European Monetary Union," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 134-38, May.
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