When is fiscal adjustment an illusion?
Fiscal adjustment is an illusion when it lowers the budget deficit or public debt but leaves the government's net worth unchanged, says the author. Conventional measures of the budget deficit largely measure the change in explicit public sector liabilities (debt). A more appropriate measure of the deficit would be the change in public sector net worth, but many criticize this concept as impossible to measure. The author takes a positive, rather than normative, approach to the net worth definition of fiscal balance. A simple model shows that when an outside agent forces a reduction in a government's conventional deficit (debt accumulation), the government will respond by lowering its asset accumulation or by increasing hidden liabilities. That leaves net worth unchanged, so fiscal adjustment is an illusion. He performs some simple empirical tests on the observational predictions of the model, examining a sample of countries with World Bank and International Monetary Fund adjustmentprograms and case studies of Maastricht Euro countries. The results confirm the model predictions: Fiscal adjustment in these countries was at least partly an illusion.
|Date of creation:||31 May 1999|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433|
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page: http://www.worldbank.org/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Buiter, W.H. & Corsetti, G. & Roubini, N., 1992.
"Excessive Deficits: Sense and Nonsence in the Treaty of Maastricht,"
674, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
- Buiter, Willem H. & Corsetti, Giancarlo & Roubini, Nouriel, 1992. "`Excessive Deficits': Sense and Nonsense in the Treaty of Maastricht," CEPR Discussion Papers 750, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- James M. Poterba, 1993.
"State Responses to Fiscal Crisis: The Effects of Budgetary Institutionsand Politics,"
NBER Working Papers
4375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Poterba, James M, 1994. "State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 799-821, August.
- George A Mackenzie & Peter Stella, 1996. "Quasi-Fiscal Operations of Public Financial Institutions," IMF Occasional Papers 142, International Monetary Fund.
- Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, . "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States (Reprint 060)," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 10-96, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Henning Bohn, .
"Budget Deficits and Government Accounting,"
Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers
28-91, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Bohn, Henning, 1992. "Budget deficits and government accounting," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-83, December.
- Bohn, Henning & Inman, Robert P., 1996.
"Balanced-budget rules and public deficits: evidence from the U.S. states,"
Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy,
Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 13-76, December.
- Henning Bohn & Robert P. Inman, 1996. "Balanced Budget Rules and Public Deficits: Evidence from the U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Barry Eichengreen and Jurgen von Hagen., 1995.
"Fiscal Policy and Monetary Union: Federalism, Fiscal Restrictions and the No-Bailout Rule,"
Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers
C95-056, University of California at Berkeley.
- Eichengreen, Barry & von Hagen, Jürgen, 1995. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Union: Federalism, Fiscal Restrictions and the No-Bailout Rule," CEPR Discussion Papers 1247, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Eichengreen, Barry & von Hagen, Jurgen, 1995. "Fiscal Policy and Monetary Union: Federalism, Fiscal Restrictions and the No-Bailout Rule," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers 233417, University of California-Berkeley, Department of Economics.
- International Monetary Fund, 1996. "Zaire - Background Information and Statistical Data," IMF Staff Country Reports 96/28, International Monetary Fund.
- Eisner, Robert, 1984. "Which Budget Deficit? Some Issues of Measurement and Their Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 138-43, May.
- Eduardo Engel & Ronald Fischer & Alexander Galetovic, 1998. "Infraestructure Franchising and Government Guarantees," Documentos de Trabajo 29, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
- Alberto Alesina & Tamim Bayoumi, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Fiscal Rules: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Mind your P's and Q's : the cost of public investment is not the value of public capital," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1660, The World Bank.
- Blejer, Mario I & Cheasty, Adrienne, 1991. "The Measurement of Fiscal Deficits: Analytical and Methodological Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1644-78, December.
- Barry Eichengreen & Jürgen Hagen, 1996. "Fiscal restrictions and monetary union: Rationales, repercussions, reforms," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 3-23, February.
- Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 1998. "The Stability Pact: more than a minor nuisance?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 13(26), pages 65-113, 04.
- Eisner, Robert & Pieper, Paul J, 1986. "A New View of the Federal Debt and Budget Deficits: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1156-57, December.
- Robert Holzmann & Yves Hervé & Roland Demmel, 1996. "The maastricht fiscal criteria: Required but ineffective?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 25-58, February.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2109. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.