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Fiscal Consolidation: Part 1. How Much is Needed and How to Reduce Debt to a Prudent Level?

  • Douglas Sutherland
  • Peter Hoeller
  • Rossana Merola

The economic and financial crisis was the catalyst for a fiscal crisis that engulfs many OECD countries. In most countries, budget deficits soared as a result of the economic slump, weaker revenues and the policy response to the crisis. Consolidating the public finances is an important challenge for many countries. Estimates of fiscal gaps suggest that substantial and sustained fiscal tightening will be needed in nearly all countries to bring debt down to prudent levels. However, given a weak global economy, implementing a large fiscal tightening could be particularly costly. Structuring consolidation packages to use instruments with low multipliers initially and enhancing the institutional framework for fiscal policy to lend greater credibility to the commitment to consolidate over time may help minimise the trade-offs with growth in the short run. In most countries there is scope to target spending programmes more effectively and eliminate distortions in taxation and re-orientate taxation to minimise distortions. Such measures, buttressed by structural reforms, such as to unsustainable pension systems, can underpin fiscal sustainability, while minimising the costs to long-run growth. Consolidation budgétaire : Partie 1. Quel est le degré d'assainissement nécessaire et comment ramener la dette à un niveau prudent ? La crise économique et financière a servi de catalyseur pour une crise budgétaire qui engloutit de nombreux pays de l’OCDE. Dans la plupart des pays, les déficits budgétaires ont fait un bond en raison du marasme économique, de la diminution des recettes et des mesures prises en réponse à la crise. Assainir les finances publiques représente un enjeu majeur pour bon nombre de pays. Sur la base d’estimations des écarts budgétaires, il semble qu’il faudra un resserrement budgétaire important et durable dans presque tous les pays pour ramener la dette à des niveaux prudents. Cependant, compte tenu de la faiblesse de l’économie mondiale, la mise en oeuvre d’un vaste programme de restriction budgétaire pourrait être particulièrement coûteuse. Structurer les programmes de consolidation de façon à utiliser au départ des instruments à multiplicateurs faibles et, à terme, à améliorer le cadre institutionnel de la politique budgétaire afin de rendre plus crédible l’engagement à assainir les finances publiques pourrait aider à réduire au minimum les arbitrages avec la croissance dans le court terme. Dans la plupart des pays, il est possible de cibler plus efficacement les programmes de dépenses et d’éliminer les distorsions dans la fiscalité et de réorienter cette dernière afin de réduire au minimum les distorsions. Ces mesures, étayées par des réformes structurelles telles que la réforme des systèmes de retraite, qui ne sont plus tenables, peuvent soutenir la viabilité budgétaire tout en réduisant au minium les coûts pour la croissance à long terme.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 932.

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Date of creation: 10 Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:932-en
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