Extraordinary JPBAFM Special issue on Stretching the Public Purse: Budgetary Responses to a Global Pandemic

Call for papers for: Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

The new global pandemic of COVID-19 has created dramatic challenges to governments worldwide. Just within a few months in spring 2020, the virus has already traveled around the world, leading the World Health Organization to declare a global pandemic. It has led to skyrocketing numbers of deaths and contaminations, challenged the public and private health systems of many countries, and brought many national economies to a halt. Its negative impacts have been more severely felt than those of some natural disasters (Sargiacomo, 2015), and according to Angel Gurría, the OECD Secretary General, the economic shock from the virus is already bigger than the previous global financial crisis (Chan, 2020).

Besides the public health concerns and the tragic loss of life, this global pandemic has also generated severe political, social, and financial challenges in many countries.  It has revealed many deep-seated problems of social and income inequity, under-investment in the public health system, hidden social tension between ethnic groups, and inadequate coordination between countries and among different levels of government within each country.  It has also forced many countries to pursue aggressive monetary and fiscal policies to mitigate the negative economic impacts, including the relaxation of deficit and debt rules, a new round of quantitative easing by central banks, appropriating extra resources for health care and emergency response services, direct subsidies for enterprises, extra unemployment benefits, tax cuts and credits, tax- and loan-delay measures, and extra subsidies for subnational governments.  While these measures seem necessary to deal with the short-term economic shocks caused by the pandemic, they have significant long-term budgetary implications for many countries, particularly for those that have just begun recovering from the 2008-2010 Great Recession.         
This Special Issue will examine the immediate budgetary responses to the pandemic by different countries and explore the long-term fiscal implications of these policies and their potential boomerang effects on the political, economic, social, and budgetary institutions.  Since budgeting is a reflection of politics (Wildavsky, 1961), and politics, social and budgetary institutions can, in turn, be severely impacted by fiscal and economic hardship (Poterba, 1994), looking at this pandemic as an exogenous shock to the existing institutions of different countries provides a golden opportunity for researchers to examine how and why budgetary policies are made, and how fiscal stress may create significant and, sometimes unintended, consequences on institutions. 

 Specifically, the symposium will explore the following questions:

  • What budgetary measures were used to respond to the pandemic? What were the key political, economic, and social factors that influenced the design of the policy responses (Helland, 2000; Campbell & Sances, 2013)? Did sound budgetary policies previously provide policymakers greater flexibility in designing the responses (Levine, 1978; Darvas, 2010)?
  • What are the short-term and long-term fiscal implications of the budgetary responses in each country? Have the policy responses caused a renewed concern about the financial and fiscal sustainability or stability of the country (Bergmann & Grossi, 2014; Grossi & Cepiku, 2+014; Lenain, et al. 2010; OECD-World Bank, 2019)?
  • What intergovernmental mechanisms and policies were used to coordinate the fiscal response to the pandemic? What were the roles of state-owned enterprises, non-profit organizations, and private businesses in working with governmental entities (Donahue and Joyce, 2001)? Are there any significant implications for the intergovernmental fiscal relationship in the future (Rubin, 2014)? Will the budgetary responses change the future spending and revenue responsibilities of the national and subnational governments?
  • How did the pandemic challenge existing budgetary rules and institutional design?  Will it cause any permanent changes and unintended consequences to existing budgetary institutions?
  • Were the budgetary responses effective in mitigating the economic, social, and public health crises and facilitating a more rapid recovery (Sacco & Buscheé, 2013; Cary, & Jonathan, 2018)?  Have the budgetary responses helped reduce some of the tensions between different economic classes and ethnic groups? What are the lessons learned?
  • What are the potential long-term political and social implications of the budgetary responses?  Has the pandemic caused any rethinking of social (in)equity and willingness to invest in public services?  Will it lead to any new thinking about the roles of the welfare state? Will the pandemic and the budgetary responses cause any political shift and favor certain political parties and political ideologies, as evidenced in the previous Great Recession (Bartels, 2013; Owens & Cook, 2013)?

Deadlines and submissions

  • We invite scholars in the fields of public budgeting, public financial management, and public accounting to submit short viewpoint papers (up to 3,000-4,000 words) to explore the above questions and analyze the budgetary responses of a specific countries so that the symposium as a whole will provide a systematic comparison of the budgetary responses to the pandemic across cultures and political systems  
  • The deadline for paper submissions is July 15, 2020. Papers will be reviewed by the editorial team.

For any questions, please contact the guest editors:

Giuseppe Grossi, [email protected]
Alfred Ho,  [email protected]
Philip G. Joyce,  c[email protected]

Bartels, L. M. (2013). Political Effects of the Great Recession. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 650(1), 47-76.  
Bergmann, A. & Grossi, G. (2014). Symposium on financial sustainability of the public sector: A critical issue for the stakeholders, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 26(1), 91-93
Campbell, A. L., & Sances, M. W. (2013). State Fiscal Policy during the Great Recession: Budgetary Impacts and Policy Responses. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 650(1), 252-273.  
Cary C., Jonathan B., (2018). Municipal response to the Great Recession: Evidence from small- to medium-sized cities in Georgia and Florida, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 30 (4), 384-401 
Chan, S. P. (2020, March 23).  Global economy will suffer for years to come, says OECD.  BBC News.  Available at https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52000219.  
Darvas, Z. (2010). The Impact of the Crisis on Budget Policy in Central and Eastern Europe. OECD Journal on Budgeting, 10(1), 1-42.  https://doi.org/10.1787/budget-10-5km7s5m3nlvd.
Donahue, A. & K., Joyce, P. (2001). A Framework for Analyzing emergency Management with an Application to federal Budget. Public Administration Review, 61(6), 728-740.
Grossi, G., and Cepiku, D. (2014). Financial sustainability and cutback management. Global issues for public organizations. Public Money & Management, 34(2), 79-81. 
Helland, L. (2000).  Fiscal Constitutions, Fiscal Preferences, Information and Deficits: An Evaluation of 13 West-European Countries 1978-95.  In Strauch, R. and van Hagen, J. (eds), Institutions, Politics and Fiscal Policy.  Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 
Lenain, P., Hagemann, R. and Carey, D. (2010). Restoring Fiscal Sustainability in the United States.  OECD Economics Department Working Papers, No. 806. Paris: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/5km5zrsp9230-en.  
Levine, Charles H. 1978. Organizational Decline and Cutback Management. Public Administration Review 38(4): 316–25.
OECD-World Bank (2019). Fiscal Resilience to Natural Disasters: Lessons from Country Experiences. Paris: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/27a4198a-en 
Poterba, J. M. (1994). State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics. Journal of Political Economy, 102(4), 799-821.   
Owens, L. A., & Cook, K. S. (2013). The Effects of Local Economic Conditions on Confidence in Key Institutions and Interpersonal Trust after the Great Recession. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 650(1), 274-298.  
Rubin, I. (2014). Past and Future Budget Classics: A Research Agenda, Public Administration Review, 75(1), 25-25. 
Sacco J. and Buscheé (2013), City responses to economic downturns 2003 to 2009: Statistical and textual analyses of comprehensive annual financial reports, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, 25(3), 425-445.
Sargiacomo, M. (2015). Earthquakes, Exceptional Government and Extraordinary Accounting.” Accounting, Organizations and Society, 42, 67–89.
Wildavsky, A. 1961). The Political Implications of Budget Reform. Public Administration Review, 21(4), 183–90.