The Secret Weapon for Fiscal Strength—Strong Budget Institutions

Holger van EdenBy Holger van Eden 

Most economists would agree that institutions in general are incredibly important in helping to shape countries’ overall economic and fiscal outcomes. But which institutions really matter, and to what extent, is less clear.

A team of staff at the IMF recently completed a study, along with detailed country evaluations, that explores the G-20 countries’ efforts to strengthen their budget institutions in the wake of the global financial crisis, and evaluates their impact on fiscal policy. We ask whether strong budget institutions helped these countries to cope with the substantial fiscal consolidation needs that arose after the Great Recession. The evidence suggests that these institutions have indeed been important.

Budget institutions matter

In the study we identify 12 institutions (see figure1) that are commonly viewed as important for the effectiveness of fiscal policy. To be clear, the term “institution” is used in a broad sense—it encompasses processes, procedures, systems, legal frameworks, and organizational entities which contribute to the budget process.

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Seeing Our Way Through The Crisis: Why We Need Fiscal Transparency

Without good fiscal information, governments can’t understand the fiscal risks they face or make good budget decisions. Fiscal transparency—the public availability of timely, reliable, and relevant data on the past, present, and future state of the public finances—is thus to the foundation of effective fiscal management.

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