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.
This paper looks at the factors that have to be considered when designing an aggregate expenditure ceiling. It is argued that expenditure ceilings are effective in promoting fiscal discipline and sustainability, but that a number of trade-offs have to be made when setting up a fiscal framework that will survive in a politically charged environment. The paper illustrates the discussion with a case study of medium-term aggregate expenditure ceilings in three countries: Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden.