On a large dataset of Italian municipalities for the period 2003–2014, we investigate unexplored effects of fiscal consolidation in decentralized public finance. Based on a simple, realistic theoretical model, we show that municipalities increase arrears on committed public investment expenditure as a response to intergovernmental transfer cuts. Then, we test our predictions controlling for potential sources of endogeneity, and find that a reduction in central government transfers causes a significant increase in arrears, besides other usual adjustments to local fiscal policy (e.g., tax revenues). Our results highlight a perverse effect of fiscal consolidation packages implemented by centrally imposed fiscal restraints.
JEL classification: H30; H72; H77; C33; C36.
This paper studies the monetary policy trade-off between low inflation and low sovereign risk in the environment where fiscal authorities fail to fully ensure the sustainability of government debt. Building on the Fiscal Theory of Price Level (FTPL) and the Fiscal Theory of Sovereign Risk (FTSR), this paper differs in its baseline assumption about the monetary policy objective, which is neither to rule out defaults regardless of inflation costs (as in FTPL), nor to follow inflation targeting regardless of associated sovereign risk (as in FTSR). Instead, we study the case in which the central bank controls the risky interest rate to minimize the probability of default while ruling out large inflation hikes. We show that this policy regime can mitigate default risks only when the central bank is expected to allow sufficient increases in inflation. When agents believe that the central bank's tolerance toward inflation hikes has increased, equilibrium risk premium goes down, suggesting that information concerning changes in the central bank's preferences over inflation directly impacts default risks.