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Incentives for public investment under fiscal rules

  • Mintz, Jack M.
  • Smart, Michael

The authors explore the relationship between fiscal rules and capital budgeting. The current budgetary approach to limit deficits to a fixed portion of GDP or to balance budgets could undermine incentives to invest in public capital with long-run returns since politicians concerned about electoral prospects would favor expenditures providing immediate benefits to their voters. An alternative budgetary approach is to separate capital from current revenues and expenditures and relax fiscal constraints by allowing governments to finance capital expenditures with debt, as suggested by the golden rule approach to capital funding. But the effect of capital budgeting would be to provide opportunities to politicians to escape the fiscal rule constraints by shifting current expenditures into capital accounts that are difficult to measure properly, thereby leading to increased borrowing. As an alternative, the authors propose a modified golden rule limiting debt finance to a proportion of the government's investment in self-liquidating assets.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3860.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3860
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  1. Marc Robinson, 2002. "Accrual accounting and Australian fiscal policy," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(2), pages 287-300, June.
  2. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2004. "Improving the SGP Through a Proper Accounting of Public Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 4220, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Lane, Philip R., 2003. "The cyclical behaviour of fiscal policy: evidence from the OECD," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2661-2675, December.
  4. Fabrizio Balassone & Daniele Franco, 2000. "Public investment, the Stability Pact and the ‘golden rule’," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 207-229, June.
  5. Buiter, Willem H., 1998. "Notes on 'A Code for Fiscal Stability'," CEPR Discussion Papers 1831, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. von Hagen, Jurgen & Harden, Ian J., 1995. "Budget processes and commitment to fiscal discipline," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 771-779, April.
  7. Poterba, James M., 1995. "Capital budgets, borrowing rules, and state capital spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 165-187, February.
  8. Alt, James E. & Lassen, David Dreyer, 2006. "Fiscal transparency, political parties, and debt in OECD countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1403-1439, August.
  9. Nouriel Roubini & Jeffrey Sachs, 1989. "Government Spending and Budget Deficits in the Industrial Economies," NBER Working Papers 2919, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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