SAFE Policy Letter Collection No. 1, 2015

Austerity and Growth – Concepts for Europe

Against the background of the European debt crisis, the Research Center SAFE, in the fall of 2013, had issued a call for papers on the topic “Austerity and Economic Growth: Concepts for Europe”, with the objective of soliciting research proposals focusing on the nature of the relationship between austerity, debt sustainability and growth. Each of the five funded projects brought forth an academic paper and a shortened, non-technical policy brief. These policy papers are presented in the present collection of policy letters, edited by Alfons Weichenrieder.

The first paper by Alberto Alesina, Carlo Favero and Francesco Giavazzi looks into the question of how fiscal consolidations influence the real economy. Harris Dellas and Dirk Niepelt emphasize that fiscal austerity is a signal that investors use to tell apart governments with high and low default costs that accordingly will have a high or low probability of repayment.The paper by Benjamin Born, Gernot Müller and Johannes Pfeiffer,looks at the impact of austerity measures on government bond spreads. Oscar Jorda and Alan M. Taylor, in the fourth contribution, put into question whether the narrative records of fiscal consolidation plans are really exogenous. The final study by Enrique Mendoza, Linda Tesar and Jing Zhang suggests that fiscal consolidation should largely depend on expenditure cuts, rather than tax increases that may fail, when fiscal space is exhausted.