Fiscal Policy in Europe: Controversies over Rules, Mutual Insurance, and Centralization
AbstractWe discuss the main fiscal policy issues in Europe, focusing on two that are at the core of the current debate. The first is that the government deficit and debt were, from the outset, the key objects of contention in the debate that led to the creation of the Eurozone, and they still are. The second issue is that a currency union implies the loss of a country-specific instrument, a national monetary policy. This puts a higher burden on fiscal policy as a tool to counteract shocks, a burden that might be even heavier now that the European Central Bank has arguably reached the Zero Lower Bound. Two obvious solutions are mutual insurance (or risk-sharing) amongst countries and a centralized stabilization policy. Yet both have been remarkably difficult to come by, especially due to political constraints. We review and discuss the relative merits of several proposals for increased insurance or centralization, or both. We conclude with an early discussion of the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for European fiscal policy reform and an assessment of the current fiscal measures.
CitationBilbiie, Florin, Tommaso Monacelli, and Roberto Perotti. 2021. "Fiscal Policy in Europe: Controversies over Rules, Mutual Insurance, and Centralization." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 35 (2): 77-100. DOI: 10.1257/jep.35.2.77
- D72 Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- E62 Fiscal Policy
- F45 Macroeconomic Issues of Monetary Unions
- H62 National Deficit; Surplus
- H63 National Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt