Fiscal Policy Rules in the Western Balkans: An Evaluation

20  October 2017    11:00 am CEST

George Kopits, global fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
(Discussant: Vladimir Gligorov, wiiw)


wiiw, Rahlgasse 3, 1060 Vienna, lecture hall (entrance from the ground floor)


Against the backdrop of a challenging and fitful post-socialist transition and despite their diversity in culture, policymaking institutions, and governance, Western Balkan countries are aspiring to become members of the European Union. As part of their quest for EU membership, over the past few years, Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia have adopted fiscal policy rules. Although still at a relatively early stage of implementation, a preliminary evaluation of the design and operation of the rules—applying internationally accepted standards of good practice—suggests that their quality across countries is rather mixed. In the light of macroeconomic policy analysis and drawing on relevant experience elsewhere, a number of options are outlined for strengthening rules-based fiscal frameworks in the region, taking into account key attributes of each country, such as monetary policy regime, public debt sustainability, and administrative capacity.

George Kopits is a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where his primary research interest is policymaking in the European Union. He is a member of Portugal’s Public Finance Council and is on the adjunct faculty of Central European University. In 2014-15, he was an advisor at the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office. In 2012-13, he chaired the OECD Reference Group on Independent Fiscal Institutions and participated in Peru’s Commission on Strengthening the Macro-Fiscal Framework. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the first chair of the Fiscal Council in Hungary—elected unanimously by Parliament. From 2004 to 2009, he was a member of the Monetary Council, National Bank of Hungary. Previous positions include assistant director at the International Monetary Fund, and financial economist at the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Treasury Department. In addition to involvement in fiscal and monetary policymaking in Hungary and the United States, Kopits headed technical assistance teams on economic policy issues to Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Hungary, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Also, he has been invited to provide advice to the authorities of Argentina, China, Colombia, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, South Africa, Slovakia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Venezuela. He has held visiting academic appointments at Bocconi, Budapest, Cape Town, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Siena, and Vienna universities. He authored numerous publications and is an occasional contributor to media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.