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Deficit and Debt in Transition

The Political Economy of Public Finances in Central and Eastern Europe


Edited by István Benczes

István Benczes is Associate Professor, Department of World Economy, Vice Dean, Faculty of Economics, Corvinus University Budapest

The adjustment problems of public finance in countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) are often misunderstood and misinterpreted by western scholars. This book contributes to the bridging of the gap between what is being thought by external observers and what the actual public finance reality is, as described by competent local scholars.

Popular political economy research has remained biased towards advanced countries and has neglected developing and transition economies. Publications on CEE countries’ public finances seem to be reluctant to apply the conceptual framework of standard political economy to these countries because of the assumption that CEE economies are different from their Western peers. But is this really the case? Are CEE economies so much different that none of the well-known “Western” political economy concepts or models can be applied to the analysis of fiscal performance in the region? Benczes demonstrates that they can be safely applied in the context of CEE economies as well. He sees no need to develop a separate or unique theory designed for the study and understanding of (one-time) transition economies.

Contents: Acknowledgements List of Tables List of Figures List of Boxes List of Abbreviations List of Contributors Introduction: Political Economy and Public Finances I. Cross-Country Analysis of Public Finances in Central and Eastern Europe 1. Economic Freedom and Public Debt in Central and Eastern Europe 2. Political Business Cycles: Theory and Empirical Findings for the CEE Region 3. The Strategic Use of Public Debt in Central and Eastern Europe 4. Varieties of Capitalism and Public Finances in Central and Eastern Europe II. Case Studies in the Public Finances of Central and Eastern Europe 5. Passive Macroeconomic Populism in the Baltics 6. Values, Norms, and Beliefs: The Case of Poland 7. Critical Junctures and Unintended Consequences: The Case of Hungary 8. Structural Reforms in a Low-Trust Environment: The Case of Slovakia 9. Europeanization with a Detour: The Case of Croatia Index


242 pages, cloth
ISBN 978-963-386-058-8 
$60.00 / €45.00 / £38.00

"This book utilizes a very interesting application of 'new institutionalist' thinking of public finances in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The main question posed is whether the CEE economies require thinking regarding public finances different from that used in the rest of the developed world. Benczes and his contributors demonstrate that this is not the case at all... This book is well worth reading. Summing up: recommended." - Choice