Analysing public finances

In this paper, we present a disaggregated framework for the analysis of past and projected structural developments in the most relevant revenue and expenditure categories and the fiscal balance. The framework, in particular, distinguishes between the effects of discretionary fiscal policy and of macroeconomic and other developments and is sufficiently standardised to be used in multi-country studies.

Here, it is applied to Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal over the period 1998 to 2004. During this period the structural primary balance ratio clearly worsened in all countries except Finland. In Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, both revenue and expenditure contributed to the deterioration of the structural primary balance. In Germany the large deterioration in revenue was partially offset by the decline in the structural primary expenditure ratio, while the opposite was true for Portugal. The analysis highlights the various factors that contributed to these developments.

ECB-paper written together with a lot of people. It’s complicated.

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