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Signaling Fiscal Regime Sustainability


  • Alessandro Prati
  • Francesco Drudi


This paper proposes a signaling model that offers a new perspective on why governments deviate from optimal tax smoothing and delay debt stabilization. In our model, dependable—but not fully credible—governments have an incentive to tighten the fiscal regime when the signaling effect on credit ratings is larger (that is, when a sufficiently large stock of debt has been accumulated). At this point, they may deviate from tax smoothing not to be mimicked by weak governments. The model predicts that primary balances and debt stocks are complementary inputs in the credit rating function as tests on Italian, Irish, Belgian, and Danish data show.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Prati & Francesco Drudi, 1999. "Signaling Fiscal Regime Sustainability," IMF Working Papers 99/86, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:99/86

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Byrne, Joseph P. & Fiess, Norbert & MacDonald, Ronald, 2011. "The global dimension to fiscal sustainability," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 137-150, June.
    2. Santiago HERRERA & Fernando BLANCO, "undated". "The Quality of Brazilian Fiscal Adjustment, 1999 - 2001," EcoMod2004 330600066, EcoMod.
    3. Castriota Stefano & Delmastro Marco, 2010. "Individual and Collective Reputation: Lessons from the Wine Market," L'industria, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 149-172.
    4. repec:pal:imfecr:v:65:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1057_s41308-016-0027-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ardagna Silvia & Caselli Francesco & Lane Timothy, 2007. "Fiscal Discipline and the Cost of Public Debt Service: Some Estimates for OECD Countries," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-35, August.
    6. Drudi, Francesco & Prati, Alessandro, 2000. "Signaling fiscal regime sustainability," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(10), pages 1897-1930, December.
    7. Anna Gibert, 2016. "The Signaling Role of Fiscal Austerity," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1623, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. World Bank, 2004. "Grenada, OECS Fiscal Issues : Policies to Achieve Fiscal Sustainability and Improve Efficiency and Equity of Public Expenditures," World Bank Other Operational Studies 13939, The World Bank.
    9. Drudi, Francesco & Giordano, Raffaela, 2000. "Default risk and optimal debt management," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 861-891, June.
    10. Benigno, Pierpaolo & Missale, Alessandro, 2004. "High public debt in currency crises: fundamentals versus signaling effects," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 165-188, March.
    11. Fiess, Norbert, 2003. "Capital flows, country risk, and contagion," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2943, The World Bank.
    12. Luis Catão & Ana Fostel & Romain Ranciere, 2017. "Fiscal Discoveries and Yield Decouplings," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 65(4), pages 704-744, November.
    13. Silvia Marchesi, 2006. "Buybacks of domestic debt in public debt management," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(5), pages 379-400.
    14. Siviero, S. & Terlizzese, D. & Visco, I., 1999. "Are Model-Based Inflation Forecasts Used in Monetary Policymaking? A Case Study," Papers 357, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.

    More about this item


    Debt; Fiscal policy; signaling; fiscal stabilization; tax smoothing; debt sustainability; credit ratings; debt stock; stock of debt; public debt; fiscal regime; primary deficit;

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue


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