The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover 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 studies how fiscal rules interact with the intergovernmental fiscal framework to foster fiscal discipline among European subnational governments. We use political variables describing the fiscal attitudes of the central government as instruments to obtain consistent estimates of the impact of subnational fiscal rules on fiscal balances. The results suggest that the discipline-enhancing effect of fiscal rules is weaker when there are large 'vertical fiscal imbalances' that is, large differences in revenue and spending assignments across the different levels of government. These findings imply that separate reforms to reduce excessive vertical fiscal imbalances complement a rules-based fiscal framework that is aimed at fostering fiscal discipline.