Yuliya Kasperskaya, Ramon Xifré, 01 July 2020

In the aftermath of crises, the state of public finances typically regains prominence in policy agendas. This column advances the hypothesis that three properties of the budgetary setup – reliability of projections, openness to scrutiny, and transparency – facilitate the exercise of the ‘budgetary analytical capacities’ of the government, legislature, and the wider public. It constructs an index of such capacities from the OECD Survey on Budget Practices. For the period 2012-2016, a simple measure of fiscal discipline is correlated with the index and is not correlated with other standard political-economy variables that are generally used to explain fiscal discipline.

Sebastian Barnes, Eddie Casey, 09 June 2020

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the role of fiscal policy and transformed the outlook for public finances. This column explores economic and fiscal scenarios for a small euro area country to 2025. Due to the high uncertainty, it argues for a state-contingent approach to policy. Low interest rates, if maintained, along with ‘high-altitude’ debt dynamics could create substantial headroom for the fiscal response and make future adjustments to put the debt ratio on a downward path more manageable.

Cara Pacitti, Richard Hughes, Jack Leslie, Charlie McCurdy, James Smith, Daniel Tomlinson, 12 May 2020

With experts warning that social distancing measures could remain in place for much of this year in the UK, the fiscal pressures faced by the government could well be much more severe than recent official forecasts suggest. Drawing on three scenarios for the economic impact of social distancing lasting for 3, 6 or 12 months, this column looks at the impact on the UK public finances. It suggests that borrowing will rise to historic highs in all three scenarios. This poses liquidity challenges for the government in the near term, and leaves the government more vulnerable to changes in interest rates or inflation in the medium term given far higher debt stocks.

Ian Preston, 05 November 2014

Data on social attitudes show that the perceived burden of immigration on a nation’s public finances is one of the strongest economic concerns associated with hostility to immigration. Yet recent official reports suggest an important positive role for immigration in the long-run health of public finances. This column argues that there can be no general conclusions applicable in all circumstances about whether immigration is favourable or unfavourable for public finances. But evidence is emerging on particular cases through studies of immigrant composition and use of services, and the effects of immigration on native outcomes.

Tim Besley, 26 February 2010

Tim Besley of the London School of Economics – and a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) – talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the idea of creating a politically neutral, expert body to ensure the proper long-term scrutiny of a country’s public finances – by analogy with the UK’s MPC, a Fiscal Policy Committee. The interview was recorded in London in February 2010.

Declan Costello, Gert Koopman, Kieran Mc Morrow , Gilles Mourre, István Székely, Alexandr Hobza, 15 July 2009

The crisis may reduce the EU’s potential output by 5% of GDP or more. This column warns that the crisis may permanently reduce the EU’s supply-side capacity unless policymakers respond with reforms. It outlines measures to address the crisis and address long-run concerns about demographic shifts, public finances, and climate change.

Events

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