Mr. Nathaniel G Arnold, Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Ms. Bergljot B Barkbu, Mr. Hamid R Davoodi, Andresa Lagerborg, Mr. Waikei R Lam, Mr. Paulo A Medas, Ms. Julia Otten, Louise Rabier, Christiane Roehler, Asghar Shahmoradi, Mariano Spector, Mr. Sebastian Weber, and Mr. Jeromin Zettelmeyer
The EU’s fiscal framework needs reform. While existing fiscal rules have had some impact in constraining deficits, they did not prevent deficits and debt ratios that have threatened the stability of the monetary union in the past and that continue to create vulnerabilities today. The framework also has a poor track record at managing trade-offs between containing fiscal risks and stabilizing output. Finally, the framework does not provide sufficient tools for EU-wide stabilization. This was most visible during the decade following the euro area sovereign debt crisis, when structurally low real interest rates stretched the policy tools of the European Central Bank (ECB), leading to a persistent undershooting of its inflation target. This paper proposes a new framework based on risk-based EU-level fiscal rules, strengthened national institutions, and a central fiscal capacity. First, risk-based EU-level fiscal rules would link the speed and ambition of fiscal consolidation to the level and horizon of fiscal risks, as identified by debt sustainability analysis (DSA) using a common methodology developed by a new and independent European Fiscal Council (EFC). The 3 percent deficit and 60 percent debt reference values would remain. Second, all member countries would be required to enact medium-term fiscal frameworks consistent with the EU-level rules—that is, to ensure convergence over the medium-term to an overall fiscal balance anchor by setting expenditure ceilings. Independent national fiscal councils (NFCs) would have a much stronger role to strengthen checks and balances at the national level (including undertaking or endorsing macroeconomic projections and performing DSAs to assess fiscal risks). The European Commission (EC) would continue to play its key surveil¬lance role as articulated in the Maastricht Treaty and the EFC would be the center of a peer network of fiscal councils. Third, building on the recent experience with the NextGenerationEU (NGEU), an EU fiscal capacity (FCEU) would improve euro area macroeconomic stabilization and allow the provision of common EU public goods—a task that has become more urgent given the green transition and common security concerns. Central to the proposal is a mutually reinforcing relationship between EU rules and national-level imple¬mentation. Strengthening implementation requires both better national ownership of the rules and their application and greater congruence of national-level frameworks with EU-level rules. The former can only be achieved by rules that convincingly balance the needs of members with the avoidance of negative externali¬ties across members. This argues for a risk-based approach—the first pillar of our proposal. The latter requires a stronger role for significantly upgraded national level frameworks—the second pillar of our proposal.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, uncertainty remains exceptionally high. The Fund has provided extraordinary financial support as well as timely analysis and policy advice during the first phase of the crisis, but additional efforts are needed to help members secure a durable exit, minimize long-term scarring, and build a more sustainable and resilient economy. Against this backdrop, and in line with the strategic directions laid out in the Fall 2020 Global Policy Agenda and the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) Communiqué, this Work Program puts forward a prioritized Board agenda for December 2020 to June 2021, focused on activities of most critical importance to our members.
This paper analyses why corruption can persist for long periods in a democracy and inquires whether this can result from a well-informed rational choice of the citizens. By applying a citizen-candidate model of representative democracy, the paper analyzes how corruption distortsthe allocation of resources between public and private expenditure, altering the policy preferences of elected and nonelected citizens in opposite directions. The result is a reduction in real public expenditure and, if the median voter's demand for public goods is sufficiently elastic, a tax reduction. In this case, some citizens can indirectly benefit from corruption. The paper shows that, under this condition, if the citizens anticipate a shift in policy preferences in favor of higher public expenditure, they may support institutional arrangements that favor corruption (such as a weak enforcement of the law) in order to alter future policy decisions in their favor. This result complements the findings of other studies that have attributed the persistence of corruption in a democracyto some failure on the part of the voters or the electoral system. It also bears implications for developing effective anticorruption strategies and for redefining the role that can be played by the international community.