Tackling the National Debt: Lessons from Abroad

Date: May 24, 2010

The Pew Charitable Trusts
901 E Street, NW 9th Floor

Washington, DC 20004


Monday, May 24
8:30 am to 11 am (coffee and pastries until 9:00 am)

Debt has become a hot topic around the globe -- Greece's debt crisis has sparked riots and emergency aid from the EU, and some fear the debt contagion could spread to Spain and beyond. Here in the United States, we have serious debt problems of our own: Our red ink is rising to a level we haven't seen since 1950, shortly after World War II.
What can we learn from countries that have overcome deep fiscal troubles?
On May 24, the Pew Economic Policy Group will host top-ranking budget officials from Austria and Sweden, two countries that managed to pull themselves back from the fiscal brink.
Space is limited. Contact Douglas Walton at dwalton@pewtrusts.org for reservations.

Welcome –  Marvin Phaup, Director, Federal Budget Reform Initiative, Pew Economic Policy Group
Introduction – Barry Anderson, Former Head, Budgeting and Public Expenditures Division, OECD
Austrian Experience – Gerhard Steger, Director General for Budget and Public Finances, Federal Ministry of Finance, Austria
Swedish Experience – Jens Henriksson, Former Executive Director for Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltic States, International Monetary Fund
Discussant – Rudy Penner, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute
General Discussion 
Barry Anderson is a consultant on U.S. and international budget issues.  Until March 2010, he led the Budgeting and Public Expenditures Division at OECD. From 1999 to 2003, he served as the Deputy Director and then Acting Director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Jens Henriksson was a senior official in Sweden's Ministry of Finance from 1994 to 2006. During that period, he led Sweden's aggressive efforts to rein in spending and boost revenue, reducing the country's debt-to-GDP ratio from 73 percent to 38 percent. Between 2008 and 2010, Henriksson was an executive director at the International Monetary Fund.
Rudolph G. Penner is a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and was Director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1983 to 1987.  He also served as Assistant Director for Economic Policy at the Office of Management and Budget and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Marvin Phaup is the Project Director of the Federal Budget Reform Initiative, a program of the Pew Economic Policy Group, and also is a research scholar and professorial lecturer at George Washington University. He previously served as deputy assistant director in the Financial Studies group of the Congressional Budget Office's Macroeconomic Analysis division and as a senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Gerhard Steger has been the Director General for Budget and Public Finances at Austria's Federal Ministry of Finance since October 1997. In that post, Steger has revamped Austria's budget process by introducing "performance budgeting" and focusing on medium-term as well as short-term goals. Since June 2009, he is chairman of the OECD working party of Senior budget officials.

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