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Policy Contribution

Are advanced economies at risk of falling into debt traps?

One of the consequences of the global financial crisis has been rapid growth in public debt in most advanced economies. This Policy Contribution assesses the size of public debt in advanced economies and considers the potential consequences of sovereign insolvency.

By: and Date: November 10, 2016 Topic: Macroeconomic policy

The gross general government debt-to-GDP ratios in many advanced economies have reached the highest levels in peacetime history and continue to grow, putting into question sovereign solvency in these economies.

In case of new adverse shocks, whether economic or political, global or country-specific, which result in the deterioration of growth prospects or higher real interest rates, or both, the situation could easily get out control.

Apart from the risk of sovereign default, excessive public debt might also have a negative impact on the stability of financial sector and on economic growth in the medium and long term.

Debt sustainability simulations for the group of highly-indebted advanced economies – those in which the general government gross public debt-to-GDP ratio exceeded 80 percent in 2015 – suggest that benefits of the current record-low interest rates and post-crisis growth recovery should be used for fiscal consolidation.

The aim of this should be not only to stop further expansion of debt-to-GDP ratios, but also to gradually reduce them. Such corrective measures are needed in six out of seven G7 members (Germany being the exception) and in 10 out of 19 euro-area members. The fiscal situation of Japan, where gross debt has reached 250 percent of GDP, is particularly precarious.

In addition, unless there are reforms of public pension, health and long-term care systems, fiscal consolidation in advanced economies must also create room for the higher spending levels in these areas that will result from aging populations.

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Policy Contribution

European governance

Fiscal support and monetary vigilance: economic policy implications of the Russia-Ukraine war for the European Union

Policymakers must think coherently about the joint implications of their actions, from sanctions on Russia to subsidies and transfers to their own citizens, and avoid taking measures that contradict each other. This is what we try to do in this Policy Contribution, focusing on the macroeconomic aspects of relevance for Europe.

By: Olivier Blanchard and Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European governance, Macroeconomic policy Date: April 29, 2022
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Opinion

European governance

How to reconcile increased green public investment needs with fiscal consolidation

The EU’s ambitious emissions reduction targets will require a major increase in green investments. This column considers options for increasing public green investment when major consolidations are needed after the fiscal support provided during the pandemic. The authors make the case for a green golden rule allowing green investment to be funded by deficits that would not count in the fiscal rules. Concerns about ‘greenwashing’ could be addressed through a narrow definition of green investments and strong institutional scrutiny, while countries with debt sustainability concerns could initially rely only on NGEU for their green investment.

By: Zsolt Darvas and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European governance, Green economy, Macroeconomic policy Date: March 8, 2022
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Past Event

Past Event

A debate on fiscal rules and the new monetary strategy

Presentation of the Yearbook of the Euro 2022.

Speakers: Maria Demertzis, Fernando Fernández, Gonzalo García Andrés, José Carlos García de Quevedo, Pablo Hernández de Cos and Jorge Yzaguirre Topic: European governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: February 17, 2022
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Opinion

European governance

The euro comes of age

A well-functioning euro reflects a degree of unity that allows the EU to credibly claim a position at the global table and therefore help shape the policies that will deal with global problems. That is a decisive success.

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: European governance, Macroeconomic policy Date: January 13, 2022
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Opinion

A role for the Recovery and Resilience Facility in a new fiscal framework

Discussions on reforming European Union fiscal rules must consider a more permanent but targeted role for the Recovery and Resilience fund to meet climate ambitions.

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: Macroeconomic policy Date: January 10, 2022
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Past Event

Past Event

Inside the European crises: a conversation with Marco Buti

At this event Marco Buti talks to Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram Wolff about his new book, in which he gives an insiders look at European policy making.

Speakers: Marco Buti, Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: December 3, 2021
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Past Event

Past Event

Fiscal policy and rules after the pandemic

What are the possibilities for shaping the new fiscal policy?

Speakers: Zsolt Darvas, Maria Demertzis, Michel Heijdra and Katja Lautar Topic: Macroeconomic policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: November 24, 2021
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Blog Post

Fiscal arithmetic and risk of sovereign insolvency

The record-high debt levels in advanced economies increase the risk of sovereign insolvency. Governments should start fiscal consolidation soon in an environment of low nominal and real interest rates and post-COVID growth.

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global economy and trade, Macroeconomic policy Date: November 18, 2021
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Podcast

Podcast

Rethinking fiscal policy

A look at the past, present and future of fiscal policy in the European Union with Chief economist of the European Stability Mechanism, Rolf Strauch.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European governance, Macroeconomic policy Date: October 20, 2021
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Podcast

Podcast

What should public spending look like?

What should we do about the increase in public spending due to COVID-19? Bruegel Director Guntram Wolff and Former Deputy Secretary-General of OECD Ludger Schuknecht discuss.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global economy and trade Date: July 14, 2021
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Opinion

Is Bidenomics more than catch-up?

The Biden administration's promises to 'think big' and rebuild the country seem like a major historical departure from decades of policy orthodoxy.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global economy and trade Date: June 3, 2021
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Blog Post

International tax debate moves from digital focus to global minimum

International corporate tax reform is coming closer if countries can set aside their differences and work for progress rather than the perfect deal.

By: Rebecca Christie Topic: Global economy and trade Date: May 27, 2021
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