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 Research Projects at the MPIfG

The Fiscal Crisis of the State in Contemporary Capitalism

Wolfgang Streeck

A longer-term perspective reveals growing stress on the financial resources of the democratic interventionist state, as expressed among other things in a steady increase of national debt. For some time now, government policy in a number of countries has been profoundly shaped by an endemic crisis of public finance. In Germany this has led to an apparently insurmountable conflict between four equally urgent political objectives: paying for social security by general taxes, rather than payroll taxes, to lower labor costs; consolidating public budgets and reducing the public debt; cutting taxes on mobile capital; and increasing public investment in response to new social problems and changing economic conditions. The world financial crisis of 2008 onwards will expand public debt to an unprecedented degree. As nation-states are enlisted by the capitalist economy and a changing society to serve as bankers and problem-solvers of last resort, their fiscal options are rapidly shrinking. The project analyzes how modern welfare states cope with the widening gap between their fiscal means and the demands made on them by the economy and society. How sustainable is a state-society-economy configuration that apparently requires governments to live permanently beyond their means? Project duration: January 2009 to October 2014.
Streeck, Wolfgang/Daniel Mertens, 2011: Fiscal Austerity and Public Investment: Is the Possible the Enemy of the Necessary? MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/12. Cologne: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
Streeck, Wolfgang, 2011: The Crises of Democratic Capitalism. In: New Left Review 71/2011, 5-29. (German translation: Lettre International 95/Winter 2011, 7-17. French translation: Le Monde diplomatique, Janvier 2012, 10-11.) A slightly extended version: The Crisis in Context: Democratic Capitalism and Its Contradictions. MPIfG Discussion Paper 11/15. Cologne: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
Streeck, Wolfgang/Jens Beckert, 2012: Die Fiskalkrise und die Einheit Europas. In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 4/2012, 7-17.
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