January, 2009


A review of recent fiscal history can help to understand the mechanisms by which subnational governments adapt their tax, expenditure, and debt policies to an ever- changing economic environment, and on the role of fiscal assistance from higher-level governments in this process. In principle, proposed Federal assistance to states and localities may provide useful macroeconomic stimulus and financial support, but past experience, in the US and elsewhere, highlights the pitfalls in achieving rapid delivery of substantial assistance while simultaneously targeting scarce fiscal resources to the most urgent needs and preserving incentives for prudent financial management by states and localities.

David E. Wildasin / dew@davidwildasin.us