Government Debt

The Burden of Public Pension Promises on State and Local Budgets

By and ·December 19, 2018
Brandeis University and Stanford University

The Issue:

Unfunded pension liabilities represent a significant challenge to the finances of many state and local governments. While no analysts dispute the general statement that pensions are underfunded in aggregate, there has been some discussion about how to estimate the magnitude of the gap. Moreover, however ...
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No Free Lunches: The Hard Arithmetic of Economics

By ·September 28, 2018
Wellesley College

The Issue:

Key policy initiatives often are presented to the public as providing benefits with no real costs. While sugarcoating may be a useful political strategy, such narratives mask the difficult tradeoffs implicit in many economic policy decisions and the invariable presence of budget constraints. Such promises ...
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Puerto Rico’s Debt Trap

By ·May 16, 2017
Brandeis University

The Issue:

At the beginning of May, Puerto Rico entered an unprecedented form of bankruptcy protection with a record breaking $123 billion in combined debt and unfunded pension commitments. The ensuing restructuring process will be, in effect, the largest municipal bankruptcy ever, dwarfing Detroit’s $20 billion ...
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