Teresa Daban Sanchez, Steven Symansky, Gian Milesi-Ferretti, Enrica Detragiache, and Gabriel Di Bella
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
Fiscal rules can help to counteract the deficits and spending biases that too often originate in the political process. Rules that constrain spending--rather than the balance--allow fiscal policy to be countercyclical. Yet the design of effective spending rules is by no means straightforward. Should a rule be real or nominal? How comprehensive should the definition of spending be? What safeguards ensure the credibility of a rule? How do rules work in decentralized systems where regions and states are partially autonomous? France, Germany, Italy, and Spain--countries that could benefit from more emphasis on fiscal rules to constrain spending--are explored here as case studies.