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A Shock Therapy for the Public Debt
Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
Any analysis of the problems of the Italian public debt must start from two main observations. The first: the present state of public finance cannot be explained by exclusively economic considerations – its politico-social dimension, its being the effect of a widespread process of redistribution, is also highly important, perhaps crucial. The second observation is that "gradualistic" cures – what might be termed a book-keeping approach – have so far all failed: since they have overlooked the politico-social aspects of the issue, they have come up against very strong resistance.
Hence the need for a new approach, for shock treatment, or, more precisely, for a manoeuvre capable, in the space of a single financial year, of modifying one or more of the principle aggregates of public financial accounts drastically. Such shock treatment does not replace, but accompanies the gradualism of return: it must also be politically and socially acceptable and be of a qualitative, as well as quantitative, nature. The operation may be performed on the expenditure side – a shock cut in interest-rates or in spending above interests: or on the revenue side – a tax shock, for example: or it might also incide directly on the size of the public debt. Today the country is prepared to pay more to have better public services: here is the basis for a new fiscal pact, which might, in turn, be a social and political pact.