Austerity without end – or, how Italy found itself trapped by European rules

By Raul Sampognaro

If the budget submitted by France is out of step with the rules on fiscal governance in the euro area (see the recent posts on this subject by Henri Sterdyniak and Xavier Timbeau), Italy is also in the hot seat. The situations of France and Italy are, however, not directly comparable: the case of Italy could be far more restrictive than that of France, once again reflecting the perverse effects of Europe’s new governance. While, unlike France, Italy is no longer subject to an Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), with its budget deficit at the 3% threshold since 2012, it is still covered by the Stability and Growth Pact’s preventive arm and thus enhanced surveillance with respect to the debt criterion. The country’s debt of 127% of GDP is well above the 60% level set by EU rules and, according to its medium-term budgetary objective (MTO), Italy must come close to balancing government spending. Continue reading “Austerity without end – or, how Italy found itself trapped by European rules”

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Japan’s reconstruction: constrained by the deterioration in public finances

By Bruno Ducoudré

Following the earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011, the government estimated the cost of the loss at 16.9 trillion yen (3.6 points of GDP). The response in terms of the structural deficit needed to deal with this exogenous shock conflicts with the government’s desire to implement an austerity policy to reduce the deficit. The additional financing requirements are thus coming at the worst possible time, amidst the economic crisis that began in 2008, which has been accompanied by a sharp deterioration in public finances due to the need to prop up the economy. Continue reading “Japan’s reconstruction: constrained by the deterioration in public finances”

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