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Article

Öffentliche Finanzen im Stresstest – Policy-Reaktionen auf die Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise

Wagschal U., Jaekel T.

The paper examines variations in policy-responses to the financial and economic crisis by OECD-member states. Therefore, in a first step, the size and distribution as well as composition of fiscal packages in 28 OECD-countries are compared. Overall fiscal net effect of stimulus was larger in Non-European liberal welfare states than in social democratic and Continental European welfare states. Concerning the composition of the fiscal stimulus, there was no clear evidence of welfare-state-related patterns. The second part of the paper deals with the consequences of the financial packages for budget consolidation and public debt. Based on a newly created indicator, it is shown that the economic and financial crisis has had dramatic consequences for public finances and budget consolidation efforts throughout the OECD-world. The third part of the paper analyzes the determinants of the size of the fiscal packages, using multivariate regression analysis. We look especially at three dependent variables, the overall size of the fiscal packages, the expenditures and the tax measures. We suspect that there are different logics behind the use of a specific measure. The theoretical approaches are the different schools of public policy research, e.g. the parties-do-matter approach, institutional theories, globalization and socio-economic theory. In addition we also explore public choice arguments, especially the impact of elections. The empirical results are partly contrary to the “traditional” results of public policy research. It is found that several socio-economic factors, for instance population size, public debt and openness of economy, have reduced the scope for discretionary measures. It is noteworthy that problem pressure hasnot lead to larger fiscal packages. Concerning the impact of political parties, we find that the share of centrist parties in government has had a much larger positive impact on the size of the fiscal stimulus compared to leftist parties. Furthermore, the facing elections during the crisis right-wing governments have implemented large fiscal measures, as well. Finally, a competitive veto player-index can explain empirical variations in the use of tax measures to adress the crisis.