In this paper we assess the importance given in capital markets to the credibility of the European fiscal framework. We evaluate to which extent relevant fiscal policy events taking place in the course of 2002 produced a reaction in the long-term bond segment of the capital markets. Firstly, we identify the fiscal policy events and qualitatively assess the views of capital market participants. Secondly, we estimate the impact of these fiscal events on the interest rate swap spreads, which is our measure for the risk premium. According to our results the reaction of swap spreads, where it turned out to be significant, has been mostly around five basis points or less.
German public finances are currently subject to considerable changes in the macro-economic environment and this is probably only the beginning of more far-reaching developments in the future. Like many other European countries, Germany, on the one hand, faces the fiscal problems emerging from an ageing population, which will put upward pressure on social security expenditures. On the other hand, the public will reject an increase of the already high tax burden and an increasingly globalized economy and further European integration may put an additional limit on the government’s capability to raise additional revenues. Finally, German governments will have to show whether they are able to meet these conflicting challenges in the future within the fiscal framework set by the Maastricht Treaty and the Stability and Growth Pact. Therefore, continued debt accumulation does not seem to be a viable option to circumvent the ageing problem and the limit on taxation. Thus we see three challenges for German public finances in the future. In this paper, we develop the recent history of German fiscal policy as a background to judging how fit Germany is to meet these challenges. Our main focus is on the government’s fiscal strategies and the gradual erosion of the institutions that secured Germany’s fiscal stability in the past.
This paper uses a new data set on budgetary institutions in Europe to examine the impact of fiscal rules and budget procedures in EU countries on public finances. It briefly describes the main pattern of budgetary institutions and their determinants across the EU 15 member states. Empirical evidence for the time period 1985-2004 suggests that the centralisation of budgeting procedures restrains public debt. In countries with one-party governments or coalition governments where parties are closely aligned and where political competition among them is low, this is achieved by the delegation of decision-making power to the minister of finance. Fiscal contracts that require countries to set multi-year targets and that reinforce those targets increase fiscal discipline in countries with ideologically dispersed coalitions and where parties regularly compete against each other.
This book presents a theoretical framework to discuss how governments coordinate budgeting decisions. There are two modes of fiscal governance conducive to greater fiscal discipline, a mode of delegation and a mode of contracts. These modes contrast with a fiefdom form of governance, in which the decision-making process is decentralized. An important insight is that the effectiveness of a given form of fiscal governance depends crucially upon the underlying political system. Delegation functions well when there few, or no, ideological differences among government parties, whereas contracts are effective when there are many such differences. Based on original research, the book classifies European Union countries from 1985 to 2004. Empirically, delegation and contract states perform better than fiefdom states if they match the underlying political system. Additional chapters consider why countries have the fiscal institutions that they do, fiscal governance in Central and Eastern Europe, and the role of such institutions in the European Union.