The Wiso Dean Ulrich Thonemann has appointed Prof. Dr. Sebastian Siegloch as a new director of the FiFo Instituite for Public Economics. The former ZEW economist and Cologne-trained journalist has been Professor of Economics in the Cluster of Excellence ECONtribute at the Wiso Faculty of the University of Cologne since mid-2022. His current research focuses on the interface of public economics with labor and urban economics. "We couldn't have found a better fit," expresses co-director Michael Thöne his delight at the new appointment. The FiFo team and the board of the Gesellschaft zur Förderung der finanzwissenschaftlichen Forschung welcome the top-class reinforcement and look forward to the collaboration.

The fiscal equalization system between the federal, state and local governments in Austria is facing a major reform. But energy transition and climate protection might not play a role in this. At the panel discussion of the expert dialogue of EEÖ and Wifo "Austria's energy transition in the field of tension of federalism", Michael Thöne recommends not to rely exclusively on the desired great reform. Effective climate measures of the energy transformation must eventually be implemented apart from the fiscal equalization system and not within it. What speaks in favor of such "quick and dirty solutions" is their speed, because also Austria can no longer afford to be slow when it comes to climate protection.

Refugee financing is re-igniting the old dispute between the federal government, the Länder and the municipalities about the tasks to be financed by each level. In the run-up to the refugee summit in the Federal Chancellery, Michael Thöne explains in an interview with NDR the chances and dangers of direct financial relations between the federal government and the municipalities. He assesses the current dispute as the first of many to come, because for now the times are over when pressing political problems could be mitigated with a great deal of additional money.

 In 1922, agricultural vehicles were exempted from vehicle tax in order to promote the mechanisation of farming. The goal has been achieved for decades; the tax benefit lives on. In the spring of 2023, the Federal Court of Auditors had once again "ultimatively" called on the Minister of Finance to actually implement the recommendations from the 2019 FiFo evaluation of this 475-million-euro per year subsidy - Spiegel reported, among others. Now Michael Thöne explains on Bavarian television that the abolition of this futile subsidy paves the way for a more modern, sustainable approach to supporting our agriculture.

India is witnessing one of the largest urban growth spurts in human history. Since 1970, the subcontinent's urban population has increased almost fivefold. Today's 500 million urban inhabitants are expected to be augmented by another 400 million by 2050. Conventional municipal finances are not up to this dynamic. At the Urban CoP Launch Conference of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India, Michael Thöne presents international good practice in urban finance. In addition to strong own revenues in user charges, new local taxes and green bonds, there is also a need for reliable vertical tax shares and fiscal equalisation transfers to cope with India's rapid urban growth.

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