Now showing 1 - 10 of 12
  • Publication
    Fiscal politics in time: Pathways to fiscal consolidation in Ireland, Greece, Britain, and Spain, 1980-2012
    (Cambridge University Press, 2015-05) ; ;
    The comparative study of debt and fiscal consolidation has acquired a new focus in the wake of the global financial crisis. This paper re-evaluates the literature on fiscal consolidation that flourished during the 1980s and 1990s. The conventional approach to explanation is based on segmenting episodes of fiscal change into discrete observations. We argue that this misses the dynamic features of government strategy, especially in the choices made between expenditure-based and revenue-based fiscal consolidation strategies. We propose a focus on pathways rather than episodes of adjustment, to capture what Pierson terms 'politics in time'. A case-study approach facilitates analysis of complex causality that includes the structures of interest intermediation, the role of ideas in shaping the set of feasible policy choices, and the situation of national economies in the international political economy. We support our argument with qualitative data based on two case studies, Ireland and Greece, and with additional paired comparisons of Ireland with Britain, and Greece with Spain. Our conclusions suggest that the conventional literature, by excluding key political variables from consideration, may distort our understanding and result in misleading policy prescription.
      698Scopus© Citations 13
  • Publication
    The European Context of Ireland’s Economic Crisis
    (Economic & Social Research Institute, 2010) ;
    The current economic crisis has hit all European countries hard, but some are much more severely affected others. The problems manifest in European peripheral countries, especially Ireland, Spain, and Greece, have roots in domestic policy mistakes. However, the European context of these policy profiles also needs to be taken into account. The creation of the Euro initially yielded large credibility gains for the weaker economies, extending low interest rates across the Eurozone. But it also introduced a set of perverse incentives toward fiscal expansion which were supposed to be managed at domestic level. Weak European coordinating capacity meant there were few effective external disciplines on national decision-making. The sanctions built into the Stability and Growth Pact proved more controversial and therefore less constraining than originally envisaged. The problems accumulating in the weaker economies made them particularly exposed to crisis when the downturn came. The crisis is not merely one of peripheral economies' policy errors, but extends to the design of European decision-making and the management of monetary union. These issues are explored with reference to the Irish case: the crisis of the Irish and other peripheral economies points to a crisis at the heart of European politics.
      833
  • Publication
    The politics of fiscal effort in Spain and Ireland : Market credibility versus political legitimacy
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2013-11) ;
    Austerity measures in response to Eurozone crisis have tended to be conceived, debated, and implemented as if only the technical parameters of budget management mattered. But policies that impose budgetary hardships on citizens, whether in the form of increased taxes or cuts to public spending go right to the heart of voter expectations about what it is both appropriate and acceptable for governments to do. Pro-cyclical measures that worsen an already difficult situation in a recession run counter to deep-seated norms and expectations in European countries, built up over decades of democratic governance, whereby governments are expected to provide offsetting protection for their citizens against the vicissitudes of the market. If austerity measures are held to be unavoidable in response to market turbulence, and especially if this view is underwritten by international authorities, new challenges of political legitimation are likely to arise. These issues are explored through the experiences of Spain and Ireland.
      716
  • Publication
    The politics of fiscal effort in Ireland and Spain: market credibility versus political legitimacy
    (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014-02) ;
    Austerity measures in response to Eurozone crisis have tended to be planned and implemented as if only the technical parameters of budget management mattered. But policies that impose budgetary hardships on citizens go right to the heart of voter expectations about what it is both appropriate and acceptable for governments to do. Pro-cyclical measures that worsen an already difficult situation in a recession run counter to deep-seated norms and expectations in European countries, built up over decades of democratic governance, whereby governments are expected to provide offsetting protection for their citizens against the vicissitudes of the market. Moreover, if austerity measures are viewed as externally imposed by international authorities, new kinds of challenges to political legitimacy are likely to arise. While Greece is commonly seen as a critical test case, this chapter explores these issues through the contrasting experiences of Spain and Ireland.
      153
  • Publication
    Paying for the Welfare State in the European Periphery
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2015-11-05) ;
    This exploratory paper outlines an approach to the evolution of the tax state in four countries: Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. It is motivated by our interest in a cluster of countries that are all too often excluded from comparative studies in political economy. Both the volume and the composition of tax revenues in these four countries display somewhat different patterns from those of the wealthier European countries. Their systematic exclusion may distort comparative generalizations in important ways. We focus here on three analytical themes that merit further exploration. Each of them helps us challenge the conventional understanding of the dynamics of tax policy. The first is that of timing. These four countries were late welfare developers, which meant that the demands placed on the tax capacity of the state is at variance with trends elsewhere, with implications for the constraints and opportunities available to their governments. The second concerns the specific domestic political economy mechanisms involved in these countries’ tax choices, which can be opened out using perspectives drawn from fiscal sociology. The third theme concerns the international political economy, and suggests that the economic and financial vulnerability of countries on the 'periphery' may influence many aspects of their policy choices, including the size of their tax state and the composition of their revenues. This preliminary version of our work focuses on the experiences of Spain and Ireland; further work on Portugal and Greece will follow.
      186
  • Publication
    Austerity in the European periphery: the Irish experience
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2016-01-28) ; ; ;
    Ireland has come to be seen as an exemplary case of the successful practice of austerity, both economically and politically. But these inferences would be misleading. The real story about fiscal adjustments in Ireland is more problematic, the reasons for recovery are more complex, and the political consequences are a good deal more nuanced. This paper sets the Irish experience alongside that of the other Eurozone periphery countries. It argues that these countries' recovery prospects depend on the EU economic policy framework, but that Ireland’s connections to non-Eurozone economies also shape its growth prospects. Political stability is problematic in all the periphery countries, with the rise of challenger parties articulating values and priorities that may be difficult to accommodate within the current European policy regime. This is connected to a wider problem of the decay of older political identities and loyalties and the emergence of a new legitimation gap for EU member states.
      686
  • Publication
    The New Politics of Austerity: Fiscal Responses to the Economic Crisis in Ireland and Spain
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2012-02) ;
    This paper adopts a new analytical approach to explaining choices in fiscal politics in Ireland and Spain between 2008 and 2010, in response to international economic crisis. It adopts a comparative cross-national research design to explore why two countries with similar pre-crisis fiscal profiles adopted radically different strategies in the initial phase of the crisis: Ireland adopted an orthodox deficit-reduction strategy, while Spain implemented a ‘heterodox’ stimulus fiscal package. Yet by mid-2010, Spain’s fiscal stance had converged with Ireland’s, as the wider European crisis deepened and the scope for autonomous national policy choice narrowed. The paper tracks this shift in a second stage of the research design, examining within-country variation over time, to provide a nuanced and sophisticated analysis of strategic choices at critical moments. It argues that the shift toward a European politics of austerity is different in a number of important ways from the older politics of fiscal consolidation, and that this has far-reaching implications not only for the evolution of European integration, but also for the balance between democratic politics and transnational markets.
      3272
  • Publication
    Fiscal politics in time: pathways to fiscal consolidation, 1980-2012
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2012-12) ;
    The comparative study of debt and fiscal consolidation has acquired a new focus in the wake of the global financial crisis. This leads us to re-evaluate the literature on fiscal consolidation that flourished during the 1980s and 1990s. The conventional approach segments episodes of fiscal change into discrete observations. We argue that this misses the dynamic features of government strategy, especially in the choices made between expenditure-based and revenue-based fiscal consolidation strategies. We propose a focus on pathways rather than episodes of adjustment, to recapture what Pierson terms 'politics in time'. A case-study approach facilitates analysis of complex causality that includes the structures of interest intermediation, the role of ideas in shaping the set of feasible policy choices, and the situation of national economies in the international political economy. We support our argument with qualitative data based on two case studies, Ireland and Greece, and with additional paired comparisons of Ireland with Britain, and Greece with Spain.
      354
  • Publication
    Building on easy money: the political economy of housing bubbles in Ireland and Spain
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2013-10) ; ;
    This paper undertakes a structured, focused case-study comparison of housing bubbles in Ireland and Spain, based on the selection of two most-different cases that nonetheless share a common outcome of interest. Both countries were exposed to the same set of changes in their international policy environment in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in the form of a low interest rate regime associated with the creation of European Monetary Union (EMU). The two countries have very different economic structures, different political decisionmaking profiles, and different relationships between the political and banking systems. Yet these two countries had the most extreme experience of housing bubbles during the 200os, and both suffered a similar construction-related economic collapse that ruined their respective banking systems after 2008. The paper argues that the decision-making taking place within their very different domestic institutional frameworks was subordinated to the fact that they shared a similar form of international vulnerability. Both were extremely open to mobile international capital during the 2000s. Their vulnerability to financialization resulted in a common experience of very rapid asset price inflation, which left both countries particularly exposed when the international financial collapse took place. The shared experience of European ‘peripherality’ meant that two countries belonging to different ‘varieties of capitalism’ ended up with very similar kinds of economic collapse
      986
  • Publication
    The Politics of Tough Budgets: The Eurozone Periphery 2008-2011
    The global financial crisis opened large budget deficit and public debt problems in the countries of the Eurozone periphery –Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain. All have been required to adopt budget retrenchment measures, particularly so for the first three once they entered EU-­‐IMF loan programmes. This paper analyses the dynamics of fiscal responses to the crisis across the four cases, using the content of budget decisions and the profile of budgetary outcomes as the principal primary data. These countries provide interesting variation on several dimensions: in the origins of the crisis (with different mixes of public and private sector debt), in initial responses to the crisis (prioritizing an expansionary or a contractionary stance), in the composition of budget adjustment (revenue-­‐raising or expenditure-­‐cutting), and in the evolution of their budgetary stance over time. The paper uses the full resources of case study methods to examine the policy configurations that underpin commonality and variation, and to expose the elements involved in complex causal processes. This analytical strategy enables us to investigate the political economy conditions underpinning fiscal policy choices in hard times.
      293