The course provides an introduction to the economic analysis of the financing side of the government budget. The objective is to provide a toolbox with which to approach in a rigorous way a variety of issues related to the design and evaluation of public policy.
The public sector as an economic agent. The nature of the economic effects of public policy: allocation, distribution and stabilization. Positive versus normative analysis. Criteria for evaluating public policy: economic efficiency, equity, paternalism and individual freedom. Trade-offs among objectives.
Agents and activities of the public sector. Indices of the dimension of the public sector. The budget of the public sector in Spain: Presupuestos Generales del Estado. Budget concepts and budgetary processes. Indices of budget policy.
The budget constraint of the public sector. A classification of government sources of revenue. Elements of a tax. Types of taxes. Desirable characteristics of a tax system: economic efficiency, fiscal justice, administrative simplicity, flexibility, accountability. Proportionality, progressivlty and regressivity. Measures of progression.
Tax incidence as the effects of taxes on income distribution. Balanced-budget incidence and differential incidence. Tax incidence in partial equilibrium. Unit taxes and ad-valorem taxes. The role of elasticities. Tax incidence in general equilibrium models. Tax capitalization. Public financing and public debt. Differential incidence of public debt and taxes: the Ricardian equivalence theorem. Public debt, burden on future generations and neutrality.
All of the changes in the Tenth edition were made to further the authors' goal of providing students with a clear and coherent view of the role of government spending and taxation. The authors' years of policy experience have convinced themselves that modern public finance provides a practical and invaluable framework for thinking about policy issues. The goal is simple: to emphasize the links between sound economics and the analysis of real-world policy problems.
Public finance is the study of the role of the government in the economy. It is the branch of economics that assesses the government revenue and government expenditure of the public authorities and the adjustment of one or the other to achieve desirable effects and avoid undesirable ones. The purview of public finance is considered to be threefold, consisting of governmental effects on:
One of the more traditional subfields of economics, public finance emphasizes the function and role of government in the economy. A region's inhabitants established a formal or informal entity known as the government to carry out a variety of tasks, including providing for social requirements like education and healthcare as well as protecting the populace's private property from outside threats.
The proper role of government provides a starting point for the analysis of public finance. In theory, under certain circumstances, private markets will allocate goods and services among individuals efficiently (in the sense that no waste occurs and that individual tastes are matching with the economy's productive abilities). If private markets were able to provide efficient outcomes and if the distribution of income were socially acceptable, then there would be little or no scope for government. In many cases, however, conditions for private market efficiency are violated. For example, if many people can enjoy the same good (the moment that good was produced and sold, it starts to give its utility to every one for free) at the same time (non-rival, non-excludable consumption), then private markets may supply too little of that good. National defense is one example of non-rival consumption, or of a public good.
\"Market failure\" occurs when private markets do not allocate goods or services efficiently. The existence of market failure provides an efficiency-based rationale for collective or governmental provision of goods and services. Externalities, public goods, informational advantages, strong economies of scale, and network effects can cause market failures. Public provision via a government or a voluntary association, however, is subject to other inefficiencies, termed \"government failure.\"
Under broad assumptions, government decisions about the efficient scope and level of activities can be efficiently separated from decisions about the design of taxation systems (Diamond-Mirrlees separation). In this view, public sector programs should be designed to maximize social benefits minus costs (cost-benefit analysis), and then revenues needed to pay for those expenditures should be raised through a taxation system that creates the fewest efficiency losses caused by distortion of economic activity as possible. In practice, government budgeting or public budgeting is substantially more complicated and often results in inefficient practices.
Government can pay for spending by borrowing (for example, with government bonds), although borrowing is a method of distributing tax burdens through time rather than a replacement for taxes. A deficit is the difference between government spending and revenues. The accumulation of deficits over time is the total public debt. Deficit finance allows governments to smooth tax burdens over time and gives governments an important fiscal policy tool. Deficits can also narrow the options of successor governments. There is also a difference between public and private finance, in public finance the source of income is indirect, e.g., various taxes (specific taxes, value added taxes), but in private finance sources of income is direct.
Collection of sufficient resources from the economy in an appropriate manner along with allocating and use of these resources efficiently and effectively constitute good financial management. Resource generation, resource allocation, and expenditure management (resource utilization) are the essential components of a public financial management system.
How a government chooses to finance its activities can have important effects on the distribution of income and wealth (income redistribution) and on the efficiency of markets (effect of taxes on market prices and efficiency). The issue of how taxes affect income distribution is closely related to tax incidence, which examines the distribution of tax burdens after market adjustments are taken into account. Public finance research also analyzes effects of the various types of taxes and types of borrowing as well as administrative concerns, such as tax enforcement.
Taxation is the central part of modern public finance. Its significance arises not only from the fact that it is by far the most important of all revenues but also because of the gravity of the problems created by the present day tax burden. The main objective of taxation is raising revenue. A high level of taxation is necessary in a welfare State to fulfill its obligations. Taxation is used as an instrument of attaining certain social objectives, i.e., as a means of redistribution of wealth and thereby reducing inequalities. Taxation in a modern government is thus needed not merely to raise the revenue required to meet its expenditure on administration and social services, but also to reduce the inequalities of income and wealth. Taxation might also be needed to draw away money that would otherwise go into consumption and cause inflation to rise.
Governments, like any other legal entity, can take out loans, issue bonds, and make financial investments. Government debt (also known as public debt or national debt) is money (or credit) owed by any level of government; either central or federal government, municipal government, or local government. Some local governments issue bonds based on their taxing authority, such as tax increment bonds or revenue bonds.
Most government budgets are calculated on a cash basis, meaning that revenues are recognized when collected and outlays are recognized when paid. Some consider all government liabilities, including future pension payments and payments for goods and services the government has contracted for but not yet paid, as government debt. This approach is called accrual accounting, meaning that obligations are recognized when they are acquired, or accrued, rather than when they are paid. This constitutes public debt.
Public finance in centrally planned economies has differed in fundamental ways from that in market economies. Some state-owned enterprises generated profits that helped finance government activities.. In various mixed economies, the revenue generated by state-owned enterprises is used for various state endeavors; typically the revenue generated by state and government agencies.
Macroeconomic data to support public finance economics are generally referred to as fiscal or government finance statistics (GFS). The Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001) is the internationally accepted methodology for compiling fiscal data. It is consistent with regionally accepted methodologies such as the European System of Accounts 1995 and consistent with the methodology of the System of National Accounts (SNA1993) and broadly in line with its most recent update, the SNA2008.
The GFSM 2001 addresses the institutional complexity of government by defining various levels of government. The main focus of the GFSM 2001 is the general government sector defined as the group of entities capable of implementing public policy through the provision of primarily non market goods and services and the redistribution of income and wealth, with both activities supported mainly by compulsory levies on other sectors. The GFSM 2001 disaggregates the general government into subsectors: central government, state government, and local government (See Figure 1). The concept of general government does not include public corporations. The general government plus the public corporations comp