This seminar is part of the "Europe and the Global Economy" series.
With the creation of the euro, the European Union embarked on a grand experiment. From the beginning, member countries had widely different degrees of budget, or fiscal, transparency. Early warnings about the potential of moral hazard in public finances as a consequence of asymmetric information about fiscal decisions were largely disregarded. In this paper, we analyze the political origins of differences in adherence to the fiscal framework of the euro. We identify in detail how manipulation of subcomponents of Stock-Flow Adjustments in national accounts is used to produce electoral cycles under the radar of the budget surveillance system of the EU. We show how these domestic incentives to use fiscal policy for electoral purposes and respond to fiscal rules at the supranational level interacted with limited budget transparency at the level of national fiscal authorities to produce a systematic undermining of the Economic and Monetary Union through employment of fiscal gimmicks or creative accounting.
David Dreyer Lassen (PhD 2002, Copenhagen) is Professor of Economics at the University of Copenhagen. His research is in empirical political economy and public economics, and includes work on fiscal transparency, political budget cycles, the politics of budgeting, and quasi-experiments in political behavior and political attitudes. His publications includes articles in American Economic Journal-Economic Policy, American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization. He has been a visiting scholar at IQSS, Harvard University, and currently holds a Starting Grant from the European Research Council.