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Regular version of the site

Monthly Public Administration Discussion to Focus on a Stress Test for Public Finances

On October 10, the HSE School of Public Administration hosted its monthly discussion series. This month’s event is entitled ‘Stress Test for Public Finances – Policy-Responses to the Financial and Economic Crisis in the OECD’ and was led by Prof. Dr. Uwe Wagschal of the University of Freiburg (Germany). Professor Wagschal's talk focused on the consequences of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus for the public purse and will compare the fiscal packages in 28 OECD-countries aimed at combating an economic downturn following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Professor Wagschal, who studies comparative political science, is the author of numerous books and articles on public debt and budget consolidation, tax policy, direct democracy, political economy, and statistics for political scientists. He spoke with the HSE News Service ahead of his lecture.

— How did your cooperation with HSE begin, and how has it evolved?

— One of my former PhD students is now a professor at HSE. I also met – some years ago – two colleagues from HSE at an international conference.

— One of your lectures focuses on political conflicts and the role of culture. What are some international examples that illustrate this idea?

— Since Samuel Huntington’s book ‘The Clash of Civilizations’, culture has become an important factor in explaining conflicts. However – as the empirical analyses have shown – culture is more relevant for conflicts within a state than between states. Take the religious conflicts in the Arab world. Most victims are related to conflicts between Sunnis and Shiites. Other cultural issues are language and identity. However, it is not only religion or other cultural factors that matter. Demographic factors are also highly relevant, for example the so-called youth bulge.

— What have been your main findings in research on a stress test for public finances? How can they be applied to the economic crisis in Russia?

— The Russian economy differs from that of Western countries. However, budget debt and budget consolidation is also an issue in Russia. I think that the devaluation of the rouble helped greatly in getting through the hard times.

— What do you think is most important for researchers today? How do we encourage young people to be analytical and open-minded?

— You have to have passion for your research and you have to work hard. In addition, you need good training and knowledge of empirical methods as well as of theories. Furthermore, young researchers should move around and see different scientific environments.

— Do you have any further plans to collaborate with HSE colleagues?

— Yes. I will write a paper together with Professor Tim Jaekel, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences (School of Public Administration), who writes a blog on public sector research and teaching. And I would love to initiate a project on social policy reforms in Russia.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service 

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