The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Several European Union countries have recently implemented or are envisaging fiscal that operations improve budgetary figures but have no structural impact on government finances. This paper evaluates some of these measures using a balance sheet approach. In particular, it examines the degree to which reductions in government debt in EU countries has been accompanied by a decumulation of government assets. In the run-up to Maastricht (1997) it finds a strong correlation between changes in government liabilities and government assets, and larger declines in government assets in countries starting from higher public debt levels.