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This paper analyses the impact of public debt level and its (un)sustainability on fiscal policy in Croatia in the 2001–2015 period. A switching regression approach is used to distinguish different regimes when government spending, i.e. fiscal policy has more or less impact on economic growth during different cycles. In the second part, the structural VAR model is used to analyse the dynamic effects of government spending on domestic demand in Croatia. To observe the public debt effects on a fiscal policy, a “closed” model is compared with an “extended” model which includes a debtto- GDP indicator. Results show a negative impact of recession on public debt sustainability and confirm the main thesis that public debt level significantly affects and reduces the effectiveness of fiscal policy in Croatia.

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Seldom does public attention follow taxation as it does now. As a result of the global economic crisis, due to the fiscal consolidations, taxation plays an increasingly important role within financial policy. The emergence and the extensive spread of taxes on the financial sector is one of the consequences of the global economic crisis. This paper deals with some theoretical connections of this change in taxation.

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Most countries now share the prospect of an extended period of public fiscal austerity. Yet at the same time the demands for improved public services continues. This paper reviews the relationship between expenditure restraint and reform. It describes three broad strategies for achieving savings, noting that each has a different mixture of advantages and disadvantages. It then identifies four significant considerations that public service leaders will need to bear in mind as they decide their programs: timing, ethics, communications and legitimacy. The paper concludes with the observation that simultaneously tackling the needs for austerity and reform will call for extraordinary levels of public service leadership.

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Acta Oeconomica
Authors: Jorge de Andrés-Sánchez, Ángel Belzunegui-Eraso and Francesc Valls-Fonayet

Abstract

The relationship between social expenditure, on the one hand, and poverty or income inequality indicators, on the other, focuses a great interest in the literature on welfare systems. In this paper, we evaluate the efficiency of the social transfer policies of the EU-28 states between 2011 and 2015 using deterministic and stochastic frontier models. Using the fuzzy clustering methods, we identify the patterns in the size of welfare systems, which we measure from the value and efficiency of social expenditure. In this way, we identify four clusters. The first cluster comprises many EU-15 countries (normally the Continental and the Nordic welfare states); the second comprises nations that were integrated into the EU in the last 15 years (mostly the former Communist countries); the third cluster comprises the culturally and geographically heterogeneous countries, such as Hungary, Ireland, Croatia and Luxemburg (whose main characteristic is the high efficiency of their social expenditure); and finally, the fourth group basically comprises the southern European countries, whose social transfer policy effectiveness is rather weak.

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In this paper, we use the structural VAR model to analyse the dynamic effects of (discretionary) fiscal shocks on the economic activity of the private sector in Croatia between 2000 and 2012. Due to the fact that Croatia is a small open transition economy, we assume that shocks of foreign origin can have notable effects on its performance. Therefore, the original Blanchard-Perotti identification method is extended by introducing variables that represent external (foreign) demand shocks. The results show that government spending has a positive and statistically significant effect on private aggregate demand and private consumption, and that net indirect taxes have a negative and statistically significant effect on private consumption and private investment.

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Abstract

Both the level and composition of public expenditures and revenues have implications for economic development, as argued by the ‘fiscal multiplier’ and the ‘quality of public finance’ literature. Public finance decisions also influence the distribution of income. By reviewing the literature, I argue for a fair distribution of income as reflected in low income inequality, not particularly because of the impact of income inequality on long-term growth (which is a controversial issue), but primarily because income inequality typically implies inequality of opportunity. European Union countries have very diverse public finance structures and different levels of effectiveness, and there is room for improvement in growth and equality impacts in all countries. A general guideline would be that the most effective approach comprises progressive taxes and inheritance taxes, spending on education, health and public infrastructure, and better government effectiveness. At the height of the 2008 global and the subsequent European financial and economic crises, the fiscal consolidation strategies of EU countries largely relied on cutting public investment and social spending (except pensions), which is the opposite of what is suggested in the literature. Better fiscal rules and good fiscal institutions are needed to safeguard growth- and distribution friendly expenditures in a crisis.

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Performance and efficiency of governments in OECD countries

Experiences of the great moderation period

Acta Oeconomica
Author: László Muraközy

In the last decades, one of the most characteristic features in the developed economies has been the growing role of government. In this study, we focus on the Great Moderation period of the OECD countries. Targeting a more subtle approach to the role of the modern state, we shall here analyse not only the size of governmental expenditures, but also the performance and efficiency achieved. Taking the findings of the professional literature into account, we divided the developed countries into five groups, four from Europe, plus the overseas OECD countries. We shall examine what is the optimal size of the public sector for these groups from the point of view of economic growth and compare these results with the real figures.

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The purpose of this paper is the empirical testing of the relationship between economic growth and government spending and, at the same time, to determine the extent to which economic growth causes growth in government expenditures (Wagner’s law) or the other way around (Keynesian hypothesis). The econometric analysis, using data for the Greek economy covering the period 1958–2004 and based on recent developments in the theory of cointegrated processes, reveals a long-run equilibrium relationship between government expenditures and economic output. Furthermore, the analysis detects causal effects in both the short-run and long-run horizon running from government expenditures to the level of economic activity and vice versa.

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Abstract

Are governments able to continuously boost economic growth by spending for decades? Can the state be a more efficient user of income by improving the structure of public spending? The paper analyses the correlation between various types of public expenditures and GDP growth in different countries of the EU. The database was composed from the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) classification of public spending, which contains data of 25 EU economies in the period 1996–2017. Three econometric models were applied in accordance with the empirical practice found in the literature: first-differences general method of moment (GMM), fixed effects panel and ordinary least squares (OLS) models. The expenditures on social protection proved to have a negative, statistically significant and robust impact on GDP growth. The results are similar for general public spending, and while spending on public order also has a significant and robust coefficient, its sign is ambiguous. The novelty of the article relate to the findings on lagged education and health spending, which have a positive impact on GDP growth.

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Abstract

In the 1990s and early 2000s, comparison of transition strategies of China versus those in Central and Eastern Europe raised controversies in the economic and political science literature. However, differences between China and the countries of the former Soviet bloc in their transition strategies resulted not necessarily from a deliberate political choice but from different initial conditions. Low-income and largely rural China, after its first radical step (de-collectivisation of agriculture in 1978), could move more gradually due to its under-industrialisation and retaining administrative control over the economy. The over-industrialised Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and former Soviet Union (FSU) countries where the previous command system of economic management spontaneously collapsed at the end of 1980s, did not have such an option. They had to conduct market-oriented reforms as quickly as they could, with all the associated economic and social pain. Regardless of speed and strategy of transition, almost all previously centrally-planned economies, including China, completed building basic foundations of a market system by the early 2000s although the quality of economic and political institutions and policies differ between the sub-regional groups and individual countries.

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