From Deficit to Surplus: The Path to Solvency for the USA
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Obama’s Budget Focuses on Path to Rein In Deficit - The New York Times
The size of the required adjustment is given with measures such as the Fiscal gap. The most commonly used criterion is the government's inter-temporal budget constraint or inter-temporal equilibrium condition:.
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The government's inter-temporal budget constraint states that the initial debt level should be equal to the present value of future surpluses. That is, the government debt must be backed by expected future cash flows. Many economists have voiced grave concerns over using inter-temporal budget constraint as a de facto definition or criterion for fiscal sustainability.
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There are many different indicators of fiscal sustainability. The indicators measure the fiscal adjustment required to bring public finances back to sustainable track. Specifics of the indicator depend on the operational definition of fiscal sustainability and the underlying economic modelling framework employed in a study. Some of the most commonly used indicators are so-called tax gaps. For example, the infinite horizon tax gap, or S2 sustainability indicator in European Commission phraseology is defined as:.
The infinite horizon tax gap gives the adjustment required to satisfy the inter-temporal budget constraint in terms of a permanent one-time change to projected path of primary balance to GDP ratios. For derivations and more information, see for example,    or. There are numerous challenges and threats to the sustainability of public finance which can range from institutional challenges ranging from creating independent fiscal institutions, fiscal responsibility laws, fiscal rules and the management of fiscal risks to changing dynamics in the demographic structure of societies.
Independent fiscal institutions which act responsibly are key for maintaining fiscal responsibility but often these institutions are created or further developed in response to crises instead of proactively preventing it. For example, during the great recession new fiscal rules were introduced to counteract debt accumulation. The question can be raised whether these economies are sustainable in the short run due to economic shocks and in the long run due to endemic problems in the structure of the system.
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The major challenges of the public finance sustainability consist of creating independent fiscal institutions, fiscal responsibility laws, fiscal rules and the management of fiscal risks. A few key factors for creating stability through institutions which have been leveraged by EU member states are the following activities which the majority of fiscal councils have enacted: .
The trend of demographic aging presents a major challenge to the industrialized world and an increasing number of developing countries. Recent projections developed by the UN Population Division estimate a 40 percent increase in world population and 7.
For example, shocks such as war and mass migration can dramatically alter the demographic composition of a society. In the industrialized world this trend is driven by simultaneous decreasing fertility and increasing longevity. One economic indicator that is used to illustrate the share of economically inactive people in society is the old age dependency ratio.
This ratio is significant for determining the pressure on exerted on the productive population by the dependent population. Although longevity is an arguably positive outcome, when paired with a decline in fertility it can create higher financial stress on working people.
Key aspects that influence the age-dependency ratio: . Political actors often get in the way of financial stability due to competing interests between stakeholders that have a lot to gain through not implementing changes that would benefit society as a whole. One example of this is the financial sector in EU non Eurozone member states which benefit from trading currencies and would lose a large part of their income should their country join the eurozone.