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Fiscal Policy and Rebalancing in the Euro Area: A Critique of the German Debt Brake from a Post-Keynesian Perspective

Author

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  • Eckhard Hein
  • Achim Truger

Abstract

The German debt brake is often regarded as a great success story, and has therefore served as a role model for the Euro area and its fiscal compact. In this paper we fundamentally criticize the debt brake. We show that (1) it suffers from serious shortcomings, and its success is far from certain even from a mainstream point of view; (2) from a Post-Keynesian perspective, it completely neglects the requirements for fiscal policies of member-countries in a currency union and will prevent fiscal policy from contributing to the necessary rebalancing in the Euro area; and (3) alternative scenarios, which could avoid the deflationary pressures of the German debt brake on domestic demand and contribute to internally rebalancing the Euro area, are extremely unlikely, as they would have to rely on unrealistic shifts in the functional income distribution and/or investment and savings behavior in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2013. "Fiscal Policy and Rebalancing in the Euro Area: A Critique of the German Debt Brake from a Post-Keynesian Perspective," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_776, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_776
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eckhard Hein, 2002. "Monetary policy and wage bargaining in the EMU: restrictive ECB policies, high unemployment, nominal wage restraint and inflation above the target," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 55(222), pages 299-337.
    2. Thomas Herndon & Michael Ash & Robert Pollin, 2014. "Does high public debt consistently stifle economic growth? A critique of Reinhart and Rogoff," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 257-279.
    3. Philip Arestis & Eckhard Hein & Edwin Le Héron, 2007. "Aspects of Modern Monetary and Macroeconomic Policies," Post-Print halshs-00155170, HAL.
    4. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger & Till van Treeck, 2011. "The European Financial and Economic Crisis: Alternative Solutions from a (Post-) Keynesian Perspective," IMK Working Paper 9-2011, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    5. Philip Arestis, 2011. "Fiscal Policy Is Still an Effective Instrument of Macroeconomic Policy," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 58(2), pages 143-156, June.
    6. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert King, 1997. "The New Neoclassical Synthesis and the Role of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 231-296 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Mark Gertler & Jordi Gali & Richard Clarida, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
    8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 573-578, May.
    9. Till van Treeck & Silke Tober & Achim Truger & Michael Brecht, 2010. "Squaring the circle in Euroland? Some remarks on the Stability and Convergence Programmes 2010-2013," IMK Working Paper 3-2010, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    10. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.
    11. Katja Rietzler & Dieter Teichmann & Achim Truger, 2013. "IMK Steuerschätzung 2013-2017," IMK Report 81-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    12. Eckhard Hein, 2013. "The crisis of finance-dominated capitalism in the euro area, deficiencies in the economic policy architecture, and deflationary stagnation policies," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(2), pages 325-354.
    13. Anthony P. Thirlwall, 2011. "The Balance of Payments Constraint as an Explanation of International Growth Rate Differences," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 64(259), pages 429-438.
    14. Eckhard Hein & Engelbert Stockhammer, 2010. "Macroeconomic Policy Mix, Employment and Inflation in a Post-Keynesian Alternative to the New Consensus Model," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(3), pages 317-354.
    15. Hein, Eckhard & Truger, Achim, 2013. "Future fiscal and debt policies: Germany in the Context of the European Monetary Union," IPE Working Papers 24/2013, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    16. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2006. "Germany's post-2000 stagnation in the European context - a lesson in macroeconomic mismanagement," IMK Working Paper 03-2006, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    17. Achim Truger & Henner Will, 2013. "The German “debt brake”: a shining example for European fiscal policy?," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(1), pages 153-188.
    18. Engelbert Stockhammer & Eckhard Hein & Lucas Grafl, 2011. "Globalization and the effects of changes in functional income distribution on aggregate demand in Germany," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(1), pages 1-23.
    19. Philip Arestis, 2013. "Economic theory and policy: a coherent post-Keynesian approach," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 10(2), pages 243-255.
    20. Thomas I. Palley, 2011. "Monetary Union Stability: The Need for a Government Banker and the Case for a European Public Finance Authority," IMK Working Paper 2-2011, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    21. repec:ilo:ilowps:470934 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Louis-Philippe Rochon & Mark Setterfield, 2007. "Interest rates, income distribution, and monetary policy dominance: Post Keynesians and the "fair rate" of interest," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(1), pages 13-42.
    23. Eckhard Hein & Achim Truger, 2006. "Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Performance in the Euro area - Lessons for the Future," IMK Working Paper 07-2006, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    24. Philip Arestis & Malcolm Sawyer, 2004. "On Fiscal Policy and Budget Deficits," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 1(2), pages 61-74.
    25. Eckhard Hein & Lena Vogel, 2008. "Distribution and growth reconsidered: empirical results for six OECD countries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 479-511, May.
    26. C. W.M. Naastepad & Servaas Storm, 2007. "OECD demand regimes (1960-2000)," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 29(2), pages 211-246, January.
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    28. Philip Arestis & Malcolm Sawyer, 2013. "Moving from Inflation Targeting to Prices and Incomes Policy," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 60(1), pages 1-17, March.
    29. repec:ilo:ilowps:470932 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Behrendt, 2014. "The Fiscal Compact and Current Account Patterns in Europe," Global Financial Markets Working Paper Series 2014-52, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    2. Achim TRUGER & Michael NAGEL, 2016. "Austerity, Cyclical Adjustment and How to use the Remaining Leeway for Expansionary Fiscal Policies Within the Current EU Fiscal Framework," Turkish Economic Review, KSP Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 235-255, June.
    3. Detzer, Daniel & Hein, Eckhard, 2014. "Finance-dominated capitalism in Germany: Deep recession and quick recovery," IPE Working Papers 39/2014, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    4. Eckhard Hein & Daniel Detzer, 2014. "Coping with imbalances in the Euro area: Policy alternatives addressing divergences and disparities between member countries," Working papers wpaper63, Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project.
    5. Detzer, Daniel & Hein, Eckhard, 2014. "Financialisation and the financial and economic crises: The case of Germany," IPE Working Papers 44/2014, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    6. Achim Truger, 2015. "The Fiscal Compact, Cyclical Adjustment and the Remaining Leeway for Expansionary Fiscal Policies in the Euro Area," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 62(2), pages 157-175, June.
    7. Bernd Hayo & Florian Neumeier, 2016. "The debt brake in the eyes of the German population," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 139-159, January.
    8. Truger, Achim, 2015. "Austerity, cyclical adjustment and the remaining leeway for expansionary fiscal policies within the current EU fiscal framework," IPE Working Papers 50/2015, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Institute for International Political Economy (IPE).
    9. Achim Truger, 2014. "Austerity, cyclical adjustment and the remaining leeway for expansionary fiscal policies in the Euro area," IMK Working Paper 140-2014, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fiscal Policy; Rebalancing; Functional Income Distribution; Debt Brake; Germany; Euro Area;

    JEL classification:

    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E64 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Incomes Policy; Price Policy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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