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The Political Economy of the Budget Surplus in the U.S


  • Alberto Alesina


Current surpluses in the U.S. have been achieved by a combination of a strong economy, low interest rates, and sharp cuts in defence spending. These surpluses follow a period (the eighties) of rather exceptional budget deficits. This paper investigates the origin, size, and expected future patterns of the U.S. budget balance. It discusses how different political forces may generate alternative fiscal scenarios for the U.S. in the next decade.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Alesina, 2000. "The Political Economy of the Budget Surplus in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 7496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7496
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:04:p:811-828_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 403-414.
    4. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
    5. Peter A. Diamond (ed.), 1999. "Issues in Privatizing Social Security: Report of an Expert Panel of the National Academy of Social Insurance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262041774, January.
    6. Auerbach, Alan J., 1997. "Quantifying the Current U.S. Fiscal Imbalance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(3), pages 387-398, September.
    7. William D. Nordhaus, 1975. "The Political Business Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 169-190.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreea STOIAN, 2011. "A Retrospective Approach on Assessing Fiscal Vulnerability: Empirical Evidence for Overindebted European Countries," Timisoara Journal of Economics, West University of Timisoara, Romania, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, vol. 4(3(15)), pages 183-188.
    2. Corinne Prost & Cédric Audenis, 2003. "Finances publiques et cycle économique : une autre approche," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 157(1), pages 1-12.
    3. Sena Kimm GNANGNON, 2011. "The consequences of Fiscal Episodes in OECD Countries for Aid Supply," Working Papers 201122, CERDI.
    4. Haffert, Lukas, 2016. "Permanent budget surpluses as a fiscal regime," MPIfG Discussion Paper 16/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    5. Sèna Kimm Gnangnon, 2011. "The consequences of Fiscal Episodes in OECD Countries for Aid Supply," Working Papers halshs-00613161, HAL.
    6. Fabrizio Carmignani, 2001. "Political Data for Applied Political Economy Research," Working Papers 43, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2001.

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