De Tocqueville's 'Dangerous Moment': The Importance of Getting Reforms Right

15 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2005

See all articles by Anne O. Krueger

Anne O. Krueger

International Monetary Fund (IMF); Stanford University - Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)


Economic reform, on an ongoing basis, is vital if economies are to achieve, and maintain, rapid and sustained economic growth. Yet governments face challenges when introducing economic reforms. Policymakers must judge what reforms are needed; when to introduce them; and how rapidly to pursue their reform programme. Failed reforms can discredit the reform process as a whole, and so make it more difficult, and more costly, to retry in the future. The reform process in emerging market economies provides many lessons that are widely applicable. Perseverance is critical: reforms must be followed through if they are to be successful. Reforms also need to be wide-ranging, encompassing not just monetary, fiscal and trade policy but reform of the financial sector and of public institutions. Reforms in many countries need to include the protection of property and individual rights; improved tax administration and greater efficiency of public spending; and commercial codes. Reforms can be most easily implemented at times of global expansion. Fiscal consolidation, for example, is more easily accomplished in a more favourable environment partly because it helps deliver future growth and partly because it gives governments scope for counter-cyclical policy during future downturns.

Suggested Citation

Krueger, Anne O., De Tocqueville's 'Dangerous Moment': The Importance of Getting Reforms Right. Available at SSRN:

Anne O. Krueger (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

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Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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