Historical Social Research

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Lisa Knoll & Konstanze Senge: Public Debt Management between Discipline and Creativity. Accounting for Energy Performance Contracts in Germany. [Abstract]

The determination of government debt levels is a complex multilayered process subjected to constant reform. In the aftermath of the 2007-8 financial crisis, a twofold reform trend has emerged. On the one hand, the European Commission demands and supports stronger harmonization of national accounts, thereby eliminating loopholes for creative accounting practices such as public-private partnerships or swap deals, which increase government debt levels in many cases. On the other hand, the European Commission demands and supports new forms of ‘creative financing’ such as Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs), a specific form of public-private partnership designed to meet climate change investment goals. Adopting a lens of French Conventionalism, we highlight conflicts within statistic and accounting frameworks and their moral-political trajectories. We derive insights into these broader conflicts by examining the concrete case of national statistics and public sector accounting practices in the German EPC field.

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