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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 Dynamics

Public Debt Dynamics

Political Will and State Capacity

(p.485) 15 Public Debt Dynamics
States, Debt, and Power

Kenneth Dyson

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a critique of formal debt sustainability analysis, including the Maastricht Treaty fiscal rules, stressing the problems of one-size-fits-all approaches. It examines patterns in public debt accumulation, including the roles of rent-seeking behaviour and economic, financial, and geo-strategic crises. The chapter looks at macroeconomic drivers of debt sustainability, notably GDP growth, as well as at structural drivers, in particular sector balance and dependency. The chapter also investigates the roles of cultural, ideological, and institutional drivers of debt sustainability. They include the ideological character of governments, cabinet duration and type of government, electoral cycle, domestic fiscal institutions, fiscal rules, veto players, economic culture, public opinion, state traditions, and governing competence of elites. The analysis of these drivers leads to the conclusion that formal debt sustainability analysis fails to address key determinants of public debt, notably governing competence.

Keywords:   public debt, formal sustainability analysis, Maastricht Treaty, fiscal rules, macroeconomic drivers, GDP growth, structural drivers, culture, ideology, institutions

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