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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

1 - Introduction: Liberal Constitutions During Financial Crises

from I - The Role of Constitutions in Dealing with Crises

Summary

The constitutions of most liberal democracies contain provisions that constrain governmental action in relation to economic policy. Some provisions grant citizens rights: For example, Americans enjoy a right under the US constitution’s Contract Clause, prohibiting states from impairing the obligation of contracts. Most constitutions also provide individual rights protections against uncompensated and arbitrary taking of property. Structural provisions of constitutions also affect economic policy, sometimes by limiting government action directly, rather than through the claims of citizens. For example, balanced-budget rules constrain fiscal decision-making, as do legislative supermajorities required by some constitutions for financial decisions. Such structural provisions have spread in recent years, especially in response to the great recession of 2007 and 2008.