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Fiscal Rules and Fiscal Performance in the EU and Japan


  • Hagen, Jürgen von


Fiscal rules specify quantitative targets for key budgetary aggregates. In this paper, we review the experience with such rules in Japan and in the EU. Comparing the performance of fiscal policy in the 1980s and 1990s until 2003, we find that the fiscal rule of the 1980s exerted some but not much disciplinary influence on Japanese fiscal policy. The fiscal rule of the Maastricht Treaty had a significant impact on political budget cycles in the EU, but did little to constrain fiscal policy in the large member states. Since the start of the European Monetary Union, the disciplinary effect of the fiscal rule in the EU has vanished. Next, we discuss the importance of budgetary institutions for the effectiveness of fiscal rules. In Europe, a number of countries adopted strong fiscal rules, i.e., a fiscal rule combined with a design of the budget process enabling governments to commit to the rule. We find that strong fiscal rules have been effective. We conclude with some suggestions for the design of a strong fiscal rule in Japan.

Suggested Citation

  • Hagen, Jürgen von, 2006. "Fiscal Rules and Fiscal Performance in the EU and Japan," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 147, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:147

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    1. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:8:y:2007:i:8:p:1-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sacchi, Agnese & Salotti, Simone, 2015. "The impact of national fiscal rules on the stabilisation function of fiscal policy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-20.
    3. Bove, Vincenzo & Efthyvoulou, Georgios & Navas, Antonio, 2017. "Political cycles in public expenditure: butter vs guns," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 582-604.
    4. Muscatelli, Vito A. & Natale, Piergiovanna & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2012. "A simple and flexible alternative to Stability and Growth Pact deficit ceilings. Is it at hand?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 14-26.
    5. Thushyanthan Baskaran, 2009. "Did the Maastricht treaty matter for macroeconomic performance? A difference-in-difference investigation," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(3), pages 331-358, August.
    6. Bertrand Candelon & Joan Muysken & Robert Vermeulen, 2010. "Fiscal policy and monetary integration in Europe: an update," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 323-349, April.
    7. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2599 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Miyazaki, Tomomi, 2014. "Fiscal reform and fiscal sustainability: Evidence from Australia and Sweden," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 141-151.
    9. Marco Buti & João Nogueira Martins & Alessandro Turrini, 2007. "From Deficits to Debt and Back: Political Incentives under Numerical Fiscal Rules," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 53(1), pages 115-152, March.
    10. repec:eee:ecmode:v:65:y:2017:i:c:p:138-146 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2013. "The Deterioration in the US Fiscal Outlook, 2001-2010," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-18.
    12. Philippe Burger & Chandapiwa Jimmy, 2006. "Should South Africa Have A Fiscal Rule?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 74(4), pages 642-669, December.
    13. Anthony M Annett, 2006. "Enforcement and the Stability and Growth Pact; How Fiscal Policy Did and Did Not Change Under Europe’s Fiscal Framework," IMF Working Papers 06/116, International Monetary Fund.
    14. Maltritz, Dominik & Wüste, Sebastian, 2015. "Determinants of budget deficits in Europe: The role and relations of fiscal rules, fiscal councils, creative accounting and the Euro," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 222-236.
    15. Bernardino Benito & Francisco Bastida & Cristina Vicente, 2013. "Creating Room for Manoeuvre: a Strategy to Generate Political Budget Cycles under Fiscal Rules," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 467-496, November.
    16. repec:eee:spacre:v:16:y:2013:i:1:p:46-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Katsimi, Margarita & Moutos, Thomas, 2010. "EMU and the Greek crisis: The political-economy perspective," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 568-576, December.
    18. Blavoukos, Spyros & Pagoulatos, George, 2008. "Fiscal adjustment in Southern Europe: the limits of EMU conditionality," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 5607, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Spyros Blavoukos & George Pagoulatos, 2008. "Fiscal Adjustment in Southern Europe: the Limits of EMU Conditionality," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 12, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.

    More about this item


    Fiscal policy; political budget cycles; government budgeting;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H61 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Budget; Budget Systems
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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