Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The significance of fiscal space in Europe’s response to the crisis

Bartha, Zoltán and Sáfrányné Gubik, Andrea (2012): The significance of fiscal space in Europe’s response to the crisis. Published in: Crisis Aftermath: Economic policy changes in the EU and its Member States, Conference Proceedings, Szeged, University of Szeged , Vol. ISBN 9, (2012): pp. 170-181.


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The textbook response to deteriorating economic performance is monetary easing, the lowering of official interest rates. When the financial and economic crises hit Europe in 2008, however, monetary policy had very little room in most European countries, as the central bank interest rates were already pretty low. Fiscal policy instruments had to be used therefore, a branch of economic policy that was believed to be dated by many mainstream economists.

In contrast to their interest rate conditions, the European countries formed a quite heterogeneous group in regard to their fiscal space: some had more because of balanced budgets and relatively low national debt ratios; others had a lot less. The paper analyses the responses given by 30 European countries to the crisis, and combines the effects with the pre-2008 fiscal characteristics. It identifies some clusters based on their performance and on their major fiscal indicators before and after the crisis.

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