Fiscal Affairs Department 50th Anniversary Conference


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Fiscal Affairs Department's 50th Anniversary Conference: "Fiscal Affairs, Past and Future"

IMF Headquarters (HQ2), Washington, DC
Friday, December 5, 2014

This year has been a year of institutional birthdays at the Fund and, on December 5th, the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF celebrated its 50th anniversary with a one-day conference on the theme “Fiscal Affairs, Past and Future.”

The conference featured talks and presentations by Alan Auerbach (University of California, Berkeley), Ravi Kanbur (Cornell University), Stanley Fischer (US Federal Reserve), and Simon Johnson (MIT), together with presentations by former FAD Directors Vito Tanzi, Teresa Ter-Minassian, and Carlo Cottarelli.

Lawrence Summers (Harvard University) delivered the luncheon keynote address on the challenging theme of “Fiscal Policy for the Next 50 Years,” and Vitor Gaspar closed a full day of lively discussion by presenting the pillars of the FAD’s strategy going forward.

The conference brought together more than 300 participants, including fiscal policy experts, senior policy makers, and former and current IMF staff. They discussed the evolution of fiscal policy over the past half century and celebrated Mr. Abdel-Rahman who joined FAD in 1964 and continues to be associated to the department nowadays. The conference was also an occasion to discuss the challenges likely to lie ahead and the role of FAD in addressing fiscal policy making and implementation challenges.

Presenters and participants discussed past and future issues in the three core fiscal areas: taxation, expenditure, and macro fiscal policy, and the contributions—past and prospective—of FAD. Vitor Gaspar, FAD Director, closed by looking ahead: “We at FAD have an ambitious work plan ahead. We will strengthen further our position as a leading center of excellence on public finances in the global economy. We will also strive to provide the highest quality advice to our member countries to promote sustainable and equitable growth.”

Watch videos of all the sessions:


8:30–9:30 am

Registration and Coffee

9:30–10:00 am

Opening Address

Video Video

Vitor GasparVitor Gaspar is the Director of Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF. Mr. Gaspar, a Portuguese national, has held a variety of senior policy positions in Banco de Portugal, including most recently as Special Adviser. He served as Minister of State and Finance of Portugal during 2011-2013. He was acting director-general of the European Commission’s Bureau of European Policy Advisers during 2007-2010 and director-general of general research at the European Central Bank from 1998-2004. Mr. Gaspar holds a Ph.D and a post-doctoral agregado in Economics from Universidade Nova de Lisboa; he also studied at Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

David LiptonDavid Lipton has been First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in 2011. Before coming to the Fund, he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Economic Affairs at the White House. Previously, he served as Under Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Treasury.

10:00–11:15 am


Domestic revenue mobilization is a key concern for governments and tax issues have been a core mandate of the Fiscal Affairs Department since its inception. How much revenue to raise? From whom? How? Can good tax design and implementation support economic growth, employment creation and fairness objectives? How can revenue administrations best support tax compliance? This session will draw on 50 years of experience in advising on tax policy and revenue administration to address lessons learned and challenges ahead.

Video Video

Vito TanziVito Tanzi holds a BA (1959) and an MA (1961), in economics, from The George Washington University, and a second MA (1963) and the PhD (1967), in economics, from Harvard University. Before joining the IMF, Mr. Tanzi taught economics at the George Washington University and at American University, where he was professor of economics and chairman of the economics department. In 1974 he joined the IMF, as Head of the Tax Policy Division (1974-81), and became Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department (1981-2000). After leaving the IMF he spent two years in the Italian Government, as State Secretary for Economy and Finance, and has remained professionally active.

Alan AuerbachAlan J. Auerbach is the Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law, Director of the Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance, and former Chair of the Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and previously taught at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, where he also served as Economics Department Chair. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Econometric Society.

11:15–11:45 am


11:45–1:00 pm


The demand for public spending has grown massively over the last 50 years. What can be done to improve the efficiency of public expenditure and ensure that it best serves poverty reduction and wider equity objectives? How can social spending on pensions and health be contained when societies are rapidly aging? How can fiscal institutions and the transparency of fiscal activities be improved? Building on nearly 50 years of work, this session will focus on the agenda for reform in expenditure policy and public financial management.

Video Video

Teresa Ter-MinassianTeresa Ter-Minassian holds degrees in Law from the University of Rome (Italy) and in Economics from Harvard University. She joined the IMF in 1972, working in the European, Western Hemisphere and Fiscal Affairs Departments. She is currently an international economic consultant, working in particular with the Inter-American Development Bank on fiscal issues in Latin America.

Ravi KanburRavi Kanbur is T. H. Lee Professor of World Affairs at Cornell University. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate in economics from the University of Oxford. He has taught at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Essex, Warwick, Princeton and Columbia. Professor Kanbur has served on the senior staff of the World Bank, including as Resident Representative in Ghana and Chief Economist of the African Region. He has also served as Director of the World Bank's World Development Report.

1:00–2:45 pm

Luncheon and Keynote Address

Video Video

Lawrence SummersLawrence H. Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus of Harvard University. He previously served Secretary of the Treasury, Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama and Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist of the World Bank.

2:45–4:15 pm

Macro Fiscal Policy

The crisis has challenged established views on fiscal policy, which has returned to the forefront of the public debate. Can fiscal policy be an effective countercyclical tool? When is public debt sustainable? What is the appropriate path of fiscal adjustment? What is the role of fiscal institutions? What fiscal rules can both anchor policies and support economic growth? How can fiscal risks be assessed and managed effectively? This session will review the evolution of macro-fiscal policy and the issues likely to be key in the coming years.

Video Video

Video Greeting: Stanley Fischer, Vice Chairman, United States Federal Reserve Board

Stanley FischerStanley Fischer is the Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. From 2005 to 2013 he was Governor of the Bank of Israel. Fischer was Vice Chairman of Citigroup from 2002 through 2005. From 1994 to 2001, he was the First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. He served as Chief Economist of the World Bank from 1988 to 1990. From 1973 to 1994, Fischer was a member of the MIT Economics Department. Fischer was born in Zambia in 1943.

Carlo CottarelliCarlo Cottarelli, a citizen of Italy, has been Commissioner for Public Spending Reform since end-October 2013. After receiving degrees in economics from the University of Siena and the London School of Economics, he joined the Research Department of the Bank of Italy where he worked from 1981 to 1987 in the Monetary and Financial Sector Division.

Simon JohnsonSimon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is also a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., a co-founder of, a member of the Congressional Budget Office's Panel of Economic Advisers, and a member of the FDIC’s Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee. Professor Johnson is also a member of the private sector systemic risk council founded by Sheila Bair in 2012. In July 2014, he joined the Financial Research Advisory Committee of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research (OFR).

4:15–4:45 pm

Closing Remarks

Video Video

Vitor Gaspar, FAD Director, IMF
4:45–5:30 pm

Dessert Reception