Summary: This paper does two things. First it examines the use of real time inter-annual cash data and the role of early interventions for improving the monitoring of national fiscal policies and the correction of fiscal indiscipline. Early warnings are important because they allow us to spread the necessary adjustments over time. Examples from Germany and Italy show that large corrections are often necessary early on to make adjustments later on acceptable and to keep debt ratios from escalating. There is a credibility issue here; we find the difference between front-loaded and back-loaded adjustment schemes is likely to be vital for the time consistency of fiscal policymaking. Second, without early interventions, the later deficit reductions typically double in size – meaning governments become subject to the excessive deficit procedure and significant improvement tests more often. Thus the budget savings from early intervention and the use of cash data are significant; in our examples they are similar in size to the operating budget of the department of housing and urban development in Germany. Similar results apply in other Eurozone countries.
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28 p.

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