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The impact of contingent liability realizations on public finances

Elva Bova, Marta Ruiz-Arranz, Frederik Toscani and Hatice Elif Ture
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Marta Ruiz-Arranz: Inter-American Development Bank
Hatice Elif Ture: International Monetary Fund

International Tax and Public Finance, 2019, vol. 26, issue 2, No 6, 417 pages

Abstract: Abstract The 2008 global financial crisis highlighted the significant impact bank bailouts, state-owned enterprise recapitalizations, and other so-called contingent liability realizations can have on public finances. In this paper, we construct a novel dataset of contingent liability realizations in advanced and emerging market economies for the period 1990–2014. We find that when they materialize, contingent liabilities are a major source of fiscal distress. The average gross government payout related to a contingent liability realization is 6% of GDP, but gross payouts can be as high as 40% of GDP for major financial sector bailouts. Contingent liability realizations from different sources are correlated among each other and tend to occur during periods of weak growth and economic crisis, accentuating pressure on public finances during already difficult times. We find that they accounted for as much as one-third of the debt increases after the financial crisis. Indicative evidence suggests that countries with stronger governance indicators and, in particular, more comprehensive coverage of fiscal accounts, suffer more moderate contingent liability realizations. Improved oversight and transparency thus seems to go some way in reducing public financial risks.

Keywords: Contingent liabilities; Fiscal risks; Public debt; Fiscal crises (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E62 H60 H63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s10797-018-9496-1

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