The Contradictions of Balanced Structural Government Budgets

17 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2012

Date Written: June 6, 2012


The paper points to the push for balanced budgets in many countries. It briefly reviews the rationale for balanced budgets and finds them wanting. It is argued that a balanced budget and economy operating at potential output are in generally incompatible and hence a balanced structural budget is not possible. It is argued that there are major issues in the estimation of potential output and of the size of structural budget position, which creates severe difficulties in using the structural budget position as an objective of fiscal policy.

Keywords: balanced budget, potential output, structural budget

JEL Classification: E61, E62

Suggested Citation

Sawyer, Malcolm C., The Contradictions of Balanced Structural Government Budgets (June 6, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Malcolm C. Sawyer (Contact Author)

Levy Economics Institute ( email )

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
United States
845-758-7700 (Phone)
845-758-1149 (Fax)

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