No Simple Fix: Fiscal Rules and the Politics of Austerity

33 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2014 Last revised: 7 Jul 2015

See all articles by Alasdair S. Roberts

Alasdair S. Roberts

University of Massachusetts Amherst - School of Public Policy

Date Written: July 10, 2014

Abstract

Fiscal rules were supposed to provide a simple remedy for out-of-control government spending. They were predicated on a deep skepticism about the capacity of democratic systems to exercise fiscal self-control. After three decades of experimentation, it is evident that advocates of fiscal rules overestimated the capacity of legal instruments to impose discipline on democratic processes. Certainly, many advanced democracies have improved their fiscal performance -- but fiscal rules have played a small role in this process. Experience suggests that advocates of fiscal rules drew the wrong lessons from the experience of the 1970s, and underestimated the capacity of democratic systems to respond constructively to fiscal crises.

Suggested Citation

Roberts, Alasdair S., No Simple Fix: Fiscal Rules and the Politics of Austerity (July 10, 2014). Forthcoming in Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 22.2 (Summer 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2464187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2464187

Alasdair S. Roberts (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Amherst - School of Public Policy ( email )

Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States
6175999029 (Phone)

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