A perceived lack of public finances is often cited as a primary reason to privatize or commercialize services. Privatization advocates announce that "the public cupboard is bare" and that private funds and/or market-based cost recovery policies are required to expand and improve services. And yet enormous sums of 'public' monies were used to bail out private banks and other corporations in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and there are vast sums of funds locked up in public pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, to name but a few of the potentially available sources of public finance for essential services.
The MSP is exploring the conceptual debates over definitions of public finance as well as how these funds are used, accounted for and prioritized in practice. The first study published in this focus area is The Cupboard is Full: Public Finance for Public Services in the Global South that shows how public capital accumulating in Public Pension Funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds worldwide could be used toward closing the global basic services gap.