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Debt rule federalism: The case of Germany

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  • Ciaglia, Sarah
  • Heinemann, Friedrich

Abstract

In 2009, Germany introduced a new debt rule in its federal constitution (Grundgesetz). The socalled 'debt brake' prescribes a balanced budget for both the federal level and the states. However, the states have leeway regarding transposition and specification of the national requirements into their own state constitutions and budgetary laws. This analysis presents a comprehensive comparison of the 16 state provisions. We develop an indicator which quantifies the stringency of state rules (Strength of Fiscal Rule Indicator). Two results emerge: First, despite the common constitutional rule at the federal level, the analysis reveals a considerable heterogeneity across German states. Second, several highly indebted states miss the chance to make their fiscal regime more credible. This finding corresponds to the disincentives of the German federation. Due to bailout-guarantees enshrined in German federalism, German states do not have incentives to impress bond markets through particularly strict budgetary rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Ciaglia, Sarah & Heinemann, Friedrich, 2012. "Debt rule federalism: The case of Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-067, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:12067
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/66119/1/729459888.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Iara, Anna & Wolff, Guntram B., 2014. "Rules and risk in the Euro area," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 222-236.
    2. Heinemann, Friedrich & Osterloh, Steffen & Kalb, Alexander, 2014. "Sovereign risk premia: The link between fiscal rules and stability culture," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 110-127.
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    Cited by:

    1. Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem & Christoph Schinke, 2016. "Debt Brakes in the German States: Governments’ Rhetoric and Actions," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 17(2), pages 253-275, May.
    2. Reischmann Markus, 2014. "Staatsverschuldung in Extrahaushalten: Historischer Überblick und Implikationen für die Schuldenbremse in Deutschland," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 15(2), pages 171-181, June.
    3. Dominik Hecker & Dano Meiske & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem & Christoph Schinke, 2016. "Schuldenbremsen in den deutschen Bundesländern: Worte und Taten der Landesregierungen," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 69(02), pages 14-22, January.
    4. Yeter, Mustafa & Heinemann, Friedrich, 2014. "The effects of fiscal rules on public finances and their identification," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100425, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fiscal rules; debt brake; Germany; fiscal federalism;

    JEL classification:

    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • H74 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Borrowing
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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