What are the Long-Term Benefits of the Economic Stimulus Package II for German Local Governments? – The Case of Saxony
This article deals with the question whether the investments subsidized by the economic stimulus package II („Konjunkturpaket II“) do not only have short-term effects on demand but also long-term effects e.g. on local economic growth. As far as the short-term effects are concerned, the case of the German state of Saxony shows – with some delay – a rise in local government´s investments. Hence, the time-lag problem inherent in all governmental spending programmes seems to keep within reasonable limits. Up to now there have been no signs of inflationary price tendencies in the construction sector. According to - for example - the „new“ economic growth theory, one ought to be sceptical about the long-term effects of the projects supported by the programme: Even for genuine public intermediate goods the withdrawal effects of financing have to be weighed against the positive effects on private enterprise sector productivity. Furthermore, the effects on factor prices caused by the investment grants might encourage the excess use of physical capital in public production. This sceptical attitude of the theory is confirmed for Saxony by the fact that primarily public consumption goods (sports and leisure facilities) or educational facilities (kindergartens, primary schools), which are of no direct relevance to the local enterprises, are supported by the programme. Investments in vocational training, research and development play only a minor role at the local government level or are explicitly excluded from the programme. Especially because of the incentives to misallocate public resources it is recommended to rely on unconditional grants in future support programmes. Then the local governments could use the grants for either „investments” in human capital (new [fixed-term contract] hires, qualification) or in physical capital, according to their needs.