Fiscal Forum: “The Political Economy of High Debt”

IMF Seminar

imf seminars event

DATE: April 19, 2015

DAY: Sunday

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

LOCATION: IMF HQ2, Conference Hall 2

Sunday, April 19 AT 03 00 PM

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The last forty years have witnessed an unprecedented peacetime growth in public debt.  Furthermore, debt reduction in many countries will have to take place against a backdrop of growing adjustment fatigue, as well has long-term structural changes to the global economic environment, including deteriorating demographics, rising inequality and weakening growth prospects.

The high-level panel will discuss the political economy of high debt in the context of the economic and social challenges facing policymakers over coming decades.  The discussion will take a long-term perspective and try to identify the enduring political lessons from successful fiscal consolidations.   Panelists will focus on the consolidation challenges facing high-debt countries and the potential political constraint imposed by weakening political support for adjustment among voters.  The panel will also consider the merits of sovereign debt restructuring, and look beyond public debt ratios to examine the totality of fiscal risks facing countries.

The panel is the highlight of the sixth annual IMF Fiscal Forum—a network of senior officials from ministries of finance from the major economies of the world.


Video: The Political Economy of High Debt

Video: The Politics of Adjustment

Video: The Politics of High Debt: Future Challenges

Fiscal Forum: “The Political Economy of High Debt”


Moderator: David Wessel


David Wessel is director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution. The center provides independent, non-partisan analysis of fiscal and monetary policy issues in order to further public understanding and to improve the quality and effectiveness of those policies. He joined Brookings in December 2013 after 30 years on the staff of The Wall Street Journal, where most recently he was Economics Editor and author of the weekly Capital Column. He is still a contributing correspondent to The Wall Street Journal and appears frequently on NPR’s Morning Edition.

(As of April 2016)

Christine Lagarde


Christine Lagarde has been Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund since July 2011. She held various ministerial positions within the French government, including Finance and Economy Minister (2007–11), Minister for Foreign Trade, and Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. She was also Chairman of the Global Executive Committee and Global Strategic Committee of Baker & McKenzie.

Joaquim Levy


Joaquim Levy took office as the Finance Minister of Brazil in early 2015. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Levy was the President of Bradesco Asset Management, a division of Bradesco, Brazil's second largest private bank. He also held various positions in government and economics, such as Secretary of Finance for Rio de Janeiro, Vice-President of Finance and Administration at the IDB, Secretary at the National Treasury, Chief Economist, Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management, Deputy Secretary of Economic Policy at the Ministry of Finance, Visiting Economist at the ECB and Economist with the IMF. Mr. Levy is a graduate in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago and a Master in economics from Getúlio Vargas Foundation.

Helen Clark


Helen Clark is the Administrator of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand. As Prime Minister, she served three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008. She was the first woman elected at a general election as the Prime Minister and the fifth longest serving person to hold that office. During the 1980s and early 90s, Ms. Clark held numerous Cabinet positions, including Minister of Housing and Minister of Health and Minister of Conservation. She held the position of Deputy Prime Minister for a year. Ms. Clark graduated from the University of Auckland in 1974 and became politically active in the New Zealand Labour Party as a teenager.

Maria Luis Albuquerque

Maria Luis

Maria Luís Albuquerque is the Minister of State and Finance of Portugal. She holds a Masters degree (1997) in Monetary and Financial Economics from Technical University of Lisbon. She held various senior positions at the Treasury and Ministry of Economy from 1996 to 2001. Between 2001 and 2007 she was Director of the Department of Financial Management of REFER, the railway infrastructure public company. From 2007 to 2011 she was Head of Issuing and Markets Department at the Portuguese Debt Management Agency. She was Secretary of State for Treasury and Finance between June 2011 and October 2012 and Secretary of State for Treasury between October 2012 and June 2013. She took office as Minister of State and Finance in July 2013.