Enabling better policy making

The FiFo Institute for Public Economics at the University of Cologne unites top quality economic research with a straightforward "hands on"-approach to policy consulting. Our mission is to enable better policy making.

Primarily, we engage in all fields related to public finance, to urban economics and local finance, to environmental economics, and to questions of demographic change. We pursue these aims: By listening first. By providing the best information attainable. By answering the relevant research questions. By offering top-quality policy advice.

find out more


Creating a plenty of housing that meets the needs and tripling the speed of climate protection in the housing sector at the same time: In addition to many private investments, this will also require intensive government efforts. Here, the funding channels must be geared even more efficiently to achieving maximum "bang for the buck", explains Michael Thöne in his interview with the VdW magazine.


On the second day of the Online Finance Days 2021 of the Evangelische Akademie Loccum, Michael Thöne will speak on "Resilience and Reform - Tasks of the federal levels in the 2020s". Register here for the free digital conference.



As German guest at the Austrian Cities’ Assembly, Michael Thöne discusses the similarities and differences of both countries in the political handling of acute and chronic crises at the panel on municipal finances. The Austria Press Agency reports; the video stream is here.



Notwithstanding ongoing coalition talks, Olaf Scholz finds the time to discuss the core tasks and challenges of German public finances and government policy with Jens Bullerjahn, Ringo Wagner and Michael Thöne. Our special thanks for that! The conversation will be one of the (many) highlights of the upcoming FES book "Deutschland und sein Geld" (Germany and its Money), which will be completed at the turn of the year.



Can Germany succeed in the digital and climate transformation without modernising the debt brake? Proposals include investment promotion companies. In the Handelsblatt, Michael Thöne cautions against this path. Such ancillary budgets undermine parliamentary control rights and set the wrong example for Europe. Most importantly, they do not function for the most important investments for the future, he explains in a Twitter thread.  


From local authorities to the EU, all levels of government need to become more resilient against crises. Decisive from a fiscal point of view: Who insures whom? Who bears the initial responsibility, who shoulders the burden later on? In FiFo Discussion Paper21-1, Michael Thöne argues that resilient federal finances must provide answers for acute crises such as Corona and also for chronic crises such as climate change - albeit very different ones.


In the annual finance equalisation law GFG 2022, important levers are turned; but much remains the same old story. In the hearing of experts, Michael Thöne stressed that the funding woes of municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia can hardly be solved if everything is merely treated as a horizontal urban-rural problem. Vertical perspectives are omitted. Corona aid to the municipalities is only granted in the form of undetermined credit. Also, the entire vertical fiscal balance between the Land and the municipalities has not been examined in detail for decades... Honi soit qui mal y pense.
See the FiFo statement here.


The Municipalities need financial security independent of revenue shortfalls and power games in the Länder parliaments. This can only be guaranteed by a clear orientation towards real needs. Michael Thöne discusses the ongoing paradigm shift towards more balanced, objective municipal fiscal equalisation with Jörg Berres, President of the Rhineland-Palatinate Court of Audit, and Patrik Kraulich, Head of Department in the Hessian Ministry of Finance. Moderated by Ulrich Keilmann, Director at the Hessian Court of Audit. Watch the (German) video of the online event of the "Behörden Spiegel" here


Research meets rating: In a joint webinar of the leading European provider of credit ratings Scope and FiFo Köln, Eiko Sievert and Michael Thöne discuss tasks and challenges of German fiscal policy in the next legislature and Germany's sovereign outlook. You will find the replay of the webinar on LinkedIn; Michael Thöne's presentation with additional material here for direct download.

06 October 2021

Michael Thöne

FiFo / October 2021 / Discussion Paper, FiFo-Köln

(pdf, 2,14 MB)
15 June 2021

Heito Aderhold, Franziska Brantner, Ute Brümmer, Anja Hajduk, Ramona Pop, Sebastian Schäfer, Jens Südekum, Michael Thöne, Thomas von Gizycki

Bericht des Finanzpolitischen Arbeitskreises 2021 der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (Hsg.)


09 June 2021

Helena Kreuter

Das Konzept der europäischen öffentlichen Güter könnte ein wichtiger Treiber für die weitere europäische Integration im föderalen Sinne werden. Wie Helena Kreuter in der auf Euractiv Italia veröffentlichten Opinion betont, setzt dies jedoch eine gut durchdachte Organisation ihrer Bereitstellung im europäischen Mehrebenensystem voraus.


Zugriff auf die Publikation:

Opinion auf Euractiv Italia


We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.