Roel Beetsma, Xavier Debrun, 16 May 2016

The success of independent central banks is often used to argue in favour of independent fiscal councils with the aim of promoting sound fiscal policies. But unlike central banks, fiscal councils have no policy levers to pull – they can bark but never bite. This column explores the theoretical foundations and practical implications of fiscal councils. The evidence suggests that independent councils can mitigate the deficit bias. They do this by subjecting the ‘fiscal alchemy’ to systematic, rigorous, and highly publicised scrutiny.

Frits Bos, Coen Teulings, 01 May 2012

The sovereign debt problems in European countries have increased the interest in fiscal watchdogs. This column draws lessons from the evolution of the oldest such institution, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. It suggests starting with a conventional approach focusing on monitoring and analysing the government budget only to later contribute to broader policy issues.

Lars Calmfors, Simon Wren-Lewis, 21 April 2011

Fiscal councils are independent bodies set up by governments to evaluate fiscal policy. As problems with debt and deficits have taken hold, they have become increasingly popular. This column looks at what existing councils do and what dangers they face. It argues that, with the right guarantees of their independence in place, independent fiscal councils can make a significant positive contribution to fiscal policy.

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