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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes household balance sheet structure in Denmark and sensitivity to rising rates. Households in Denmark have gotten considerably wealthier in recent decades. High household assets, in particular in the mandatory pension system and housing, provide stability by funding future consumption and protecting against shocks. The high, but mostly illiquid, assets have a counterpart, however, in the high household debt, as households often need to borrow to consume or buy property. The resulting combination of large assets and liabilities on household balance sheets make the Danish economy sensitive to interest-rate changes. Sudden increases in interest rates can create macroeconomic instability via their impact on the debt service of households and knock-on effects on consumption.
Mr. Todd D. Mattina and Ms. Victoria Gunnarsson
This paper assesses the relative efficiency and flexibility of public spending in Slovenia compared to the advanced and new EU member states. Spending on health care, education, and social protection is relatively high in Slovenia without achieving correspondingly better outcomes. Inefficiencies appear to stem from the financing mechanisms for social services, institutional arrangements, and the weak targeting of social benefits. In addition, the composition of spending appears to be strongly tilted towards nondiscretionary items that reduce the fiscal room for maneuver. Greater flexibility is needed to facilitate the reallocation of relatively inefficient expenditure into higher priorities. In this manner, medium-term expenditure rationalization can focus on reducing inefficient outlays rather than restraining traditionally flexible components of the budget, such as public investment.