Public Spending and the Role of the State

CFS-IBF Financial History Lecture

10. Mär 2021 (10. März 2021, 16:00 Uhr)

Zur Veranstaltung

Public expenditure is an essential tool for governments to underpin prosperity, opportunities and freedom in our advanced countries. But discontent is spreading at a time when high spending, debt and new challenges risk overwhelming many governments. This book’s four themes are, therefore, as relevant today as they are timeless:
1) The role of the state has grown enormously over the past 150 years, initially setting sound rules of the game and providing essential public goods and services. In recent decades, however, public spending has often grown more than needed and lost focus, while public debt has reached record levels.
2) There are huge differences in the ‘value for money’ citizens get from their governments. Public spending of 30%–35% of GDP, or perhaps 40%, suffices to do well, which is much less than the prevailing 45%–55% in many countries.
3) There are dark clouds on the horizon from risks in the social and financial sphere. If social spending trends continue, or if a new financial crisis strikes, public finances will not be sustainable in many countries.
4) Governments need to reform their expenditure and strengthen their rules and institutions to deliver better on their core tasks. This way, they will stay lean, efficient and sustainable.

Dr. Ludger Schuknecht, former Deputy Secretary-General at the OECD and Chief Economist of the German Federal Ministry of Finance
Discussant: Prof. Harold James PhD, Princeton University
Moderator: Prof. Dr. Rainer Klump, CFS-Director, and Goethe University

Die Veranstaltung findet als Zoom Videokonferenz in englischer Sprache statt.


Ludger Schuknecht
Ludger Schuknecht was Deputy Secretary-General at the OECD and Chief Economist of the German Federal Ministry of Finance. He also held posts at the European Central Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. His research interests include international finance and fiscal policy, expenditure policies and the role of the state. His books include Public Spending and the Role of the State: History, Performance, Risk and Remedies (November 2020) and Public Spending in the 20th Century: A Global Perspective, co-authored with Vito Tanzi (2000), both published by Cambridge University Press and Trade Protection in the European Union (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1992).
Harold James
Harold James is a British historian specializing in German history and European economic history. He is a Professor of History and International Relations at Princeton University. At the beginning of his career, James was focused on modern German history, especially the economic and financial history of the interwar period. Some of his most significant contributions are a study of Deutsche Bank, an investigation of the role of the Reichsbank in the expropriation of Jewish assets during the Nazi era as well as a study on German identity. More recently, Harold James has been interested in the economic consequences of globalization, focussing on on the comparison with earlier attempts at globalization that lead to the economic crisis of 1929. His last book, written with Markus Brunnermeier and Jean-Pierre Landau (2018), dealt with “The Euro: The Battle of Economic Cultures”.

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