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.
Comparisons about the role of the government in an economy are usually made by reference to the share of tax revenue or of public expenditure in gross domestic product. However, governments often use other tools for pursuing their objectives. The paper discusses these other tools, shows the extent to which they can replace the traditional fiscal instruments, and assesses their quantitative importance. Various highly speculative hypotheses are advanced about the role of these other tools in countries at different levels of development.