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States, Debt, and Power'Saints' and 'Sinners' in European History and Integration$
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Kenneth Dyson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714071

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714071.001.0001

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Public Debt and Multilevel Statehood

Public Debt and Multilevel Statehood

Sub-National Fiscal Governance, Structural Imbalances, and ‘Stand-Alone’ Fiscal Capacity

(p.506) 16 Public Debt and Multilevel Statehood
States, Debt, and Power

Kenneth Dyson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines sovereign creditworthiness as a problem in building sub-national fiscal capacity; why it matters; why it generates controversy about its purpose; and how it relates to historic grand bargains about the basis of national cohesion and exhibits path dependency. It makes a distinction between formal and material sub-national fiscal capacity, emphasizing the importance of structural imbalances, regional balance sheets, ‘stand-alone’ fiscal capacity, and ‘system strength’. The chapter highlights the distinctive characteristics of sub-national fiscal governance. It also shows the growing significance of international credit ratings and EU fiscal surveillance, leading to tightening of hierarchical controls and of market-based discipline. The chapter examines the determinants of sub-national credit ratings. A comparison is made of sub-national fiscal capacity in the United States, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The conclusion considers the reframing of sub-national fiscal governance under EMU and economic and financial crisis.

Keywords:   grand bargains, national cohesion, sub-national governance, fiscal capacity, structural imbalances, credit ratings, market discipline, EU fiscal surveillance, hierarchical control

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