M. Ayhan Kose, Franziska Ohnsorge, Naotaka Sugawara, 12 February 2018

The availability of fiscal space has been at the centre of recent debates on the effective use of fiscal policy. This column introduces a new cross-country database of fiscal space indicators and applies it to the analysis of the evolution of fiscal space over the past quarter century and during oil price plunges. Fiscal space has weakened materially in many emerging and developing economies since the Global Crisis. Fiscal space tends to deteriorate in energy-exporting emerging and developing economies during oil price plunges but later improves, often because of procyclical fiscal tightening.

Paul De Grauwe, 13 May 2016

Greece may be about to get some debt relief, although there is still resistance to the idea. This column argues that the ECB has been providing other Eurozone countries with debt relief since early 2015 through its programme of quantitative easing. The reason given for excluding Greece from the QE programme – the ‘quality’ of its government bonds – can easily be overcome if the political will exists to do so. It is time to start treating a country struggling under the burden of immense debt in the same way as the other Eurozone countries are treated.

Andrea Consiglio, Stavros Zenios, 12 August 2015

Some experts view Greek debt as sustainable, while others claim it is not sustainable. This column argues that the distinction between tactical and strategic debt sustainability can explain this difference of opinions. Moreover, strategic debt sustainability analysis should account for tail risk. This approach shows that Greek debt is highly unsustainable, but sustainability can be restored with a nominal haircut of 50%, interest rate concessions of 70%, or a rescheduling of debt to a weighted average maturity of 20 years. Greece and its creditors should ‘bet on the future’ and embrace debt relief.

Andrea Presbitero, 19 November 2010

The global crisis and expansionary government reactions that followed revived the attention of policymakers and academics on the adverse effects of large public debt. This column examines the case of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. It argues that a focus on the consequences of external debt is outdated as the share of domestic debt in total public debt in increased from 11% to 37% from 1991 to 2008. A new framework to deal with total public debt is now required to take into account domestic interest payments.

Andreas Freytag, Gernot Pehnelt, 11 December 2008

In a future phase of the crisis, the issue of sovereign debt relief is likely to arise. Such debt relief has historically been marked by political failure and short-term thinking, and not delivered promising results. Drawing on recent research, this column argues for tying debt relief to good governance goals is one way to improve the outcome.

Events