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Walking the fiscal tightrope: a framework for fiscal sustainability in government 

From the government debt crisis in Europe to the fiscal cliff in the US, governments around the world continue to struggle to achieve fiscal sustainability and control their finances in a post-GFC world.
Walking the fiscal tightrope

To achieve greater insight and understanding of the impacts of government debt and fiscal policy on the global economy, KPMG International examined the fiscal policy settings of 19* countries within the G20 group of countries across the budgetary, economic and intergenerational cycles. Based on the key findings, the report proposes the essential characteristics and attributes of a competent fiscal sustainability framework for the public sector.

According to the research:

  • Counter to popular opinion, the roots of the current government debt crisis do not lie solely in the GFC. In fact, there are numerous factors that have led to today’s issues with fiscal sustainability. In particular, a key issue is the persistent lack of fiscal discipline and an inability to achieve fiscal policy targets, the result of short-termism and political expediency.
  • The challenges now facing government finance in many of the world’s leading economies will likely not be solved in the short term. Most governments, if not all, will now also have to deal with the longer term impacts created by intergenerational aging and global economic interconnectedness.
  • The solution is clear: better frameworks—and an improved commitment to adhere to them long term.

Country comparison tool

Explore key fiscal data and trends across the budgetary, economic and intergenerational cycles for the 19 countries.


* The G20 member country not included is Brussels (representing the remaining European Union (EU) member states). Since the UK, France, Germany and Italy are included as separate G20 countries in their own right, further representation from EU member states was deemed unnecessary, given that many fiscal policies are ‘Treaty driven’.

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Country comparison tool

Explore key fiscal data and trends across the budgetary, economic and intergenerational cycles for the 19 countries.

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