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Fiscal Gimmickry in Europe: One-Off Measures and Creative Accounting

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  • Vincent Koen
  • Paul van den Noord

Abstract

Accounting conventions usually leave some room for judgment, which governments may be tempted to take advantage of, especially when fiscal rules bite or threaten to do so. The European experience over the past decade -- documented here in great detail -- illustrates that fiscal gimmicks come in many different guises, but also that some are less mischievous than others. Logit regression analysis confirms that when deficit rules or, to a lesser extent, debt thresholds tend to become more binding, recourse to gimmicks is more likely. It also suggests that more centralised budget systems are less prone to such gimmickry. The policy implications are clear as regards the virtues of transparent and consistent accounting practices, but more ambiguous regarding the merits or otherwise of one-off measures ... Astuces budgétaires en Europe : Mesures non récurrentes et créativité comptable En général, les conventions comptables sont sujettes à interprétation, et les gouvernements peuvent être tentés d’en profiter, notamment lorsqu’ils sont contraints, ou en voie de l’être, par des règles budgétaires. L’expérience européenne au cours de la décennie écoulée -- décrite ici avec force détails -- montre que les astuces budgétaires sont protéiformes, mais aussi que certaines posent moins de problèmes que d’autres. Des régressions logit confirment que lorsque les règles sur les déficits ou, dans une moindre mesure, les seuils d’endettement deviennent plus contraignants, la probabilité d’un recours à des astuces augmente. Elles corroborent également l’idée que les astuces tendent à être moins employées dans des systèmes budgétaires plus centralisés. Les implications de politique économique sont claires s’agissant des vertus de la transparence et de la cohérence des comptes, mais plus ambiguës concernant les mérites ou inconvénients des mesures non récurrentes ...

Suggested Citation

  • Vincent Koen & Paul van den Noord, 2005. "Fiscal Gimmickry in Europe: One-Off Measures and Creative Accounting," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 417, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:417-en
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/237714513517
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    Keywords

    astuce budgétaire; budget; budgets; comptes nationaux; dette publique; déficit budgétaire; Economic and Monetary Union; fiscal deficit; fiscal gimmicks; fiscal rules; national accounts; pacte de stabilité et de croissance; political economy; public debt; règles budgétaires; stability and growth pact; Union économique et monétaire; économie politique;

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • H27 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Other Sources of Revenue
    • H6 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
    • H74 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Borrowing
    • H81 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Governmental Loans; Loan Guarantees; Credits; Grants; Bailouts
    • H82 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Governmental Property
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods

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