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Is state fiscal policy asymmetric over the business cycle?

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Author Info

  • Bent E. Sorensen
  • Oved Yosha

Abstract

A number of stabilizers are thought to mute the business cycle. One key stabilizer is federal fiscal policy. The federal budget surplus tends to rise during economic booms and fall in downturns, helping to stabilize consumers’ disposable income and thereby mitigate economic fluctuations. During booms, for example, the budget surplus typically rises because tax revenues rise more than expenditures.> Another stabilizer that has traditionally received less attention is state fiscal policy. Like the federal budget surplus, state government surpluses tend to rise during economic expansions and decline during downturns. Moreover, like the federal budget, state budgets represent large shares of the economy. The stabilizing influence of state fiscal policy, however, may differ across business cycle expansions and downturns – making state fiscal policy asymmetric. For example, state budgets could be more effective at mitigating economic slumps than at muting booms if taxes fall more sharply during a slump than they rise in an expansion of equal magnitude. Asymmetry in fiscal policy could be caused by a number of factors, such as balanced budget rules, which are constitutionally imposed restrictions on a state government’s ability to incur debt.> Sorensen and Yosha examine the business cycle behavior of state fiscal policy to determine whether policy is asymmetric and, if so, to identify the causes. They conclude that state revenue and expenditure display significant asymmetry over the business cycle, with nearly offsetting effects on the budget surplus. As a result, state fiscal policy tends to mute economic booms to roughly the same degree it mitigates slowdowns. The asymmetries in revenue and expenditure appear to be associated with balanced budget rules, although their fundamental causes cannot be clearly identified.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in its journal Economic Review.

Volume (Year): (2001)
Issue (Month): Q III ()
Pages: 43-64

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2001:i:qiii:p:43-64:n:v.86no.3

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Keywords: Fiscal policy ; Business cycles;

References

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  1. Lane, Philip R., 2003. "The cyclical behaviour of fiscal policy: evidence from the OECD," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2661-2675, December.
  2. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 1999. "Government Size and Automatic Stabilizers: International and Intranational Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2259, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  4. Barry Eichengreen and Tamim Bayoumi., 1993. "The Political Economy of Fiscal Restrictions: Implications for Europe from the United States," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-020, University of California at Berkeley.
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  6. James M. Poterba, 1995. "State Responses to Fiscal Crisis: The Effects of Budgetary Institutionsand Politics," NBER Working Papers 4375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Donald P. Morgan, 1993. "Asymmetric effects of monetary policy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 21-33.
  8. Edward M. Gramlich, 1991. "The 1991 State and Local Fiscal Crisis," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 249-288.
  9. James M. Poterba & Kim S. Rueben, 1997. "State Fiscal Institutions and the U.S. Municipal Bond Market," NBER Working Papers 6237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ernesto Talvi & Carlos A. Vegh, 2000. "Tax Base Variability and Procyclical Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 7499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Henning Bohn, 1998. "The Behavior Of U.S. Public Debt And Deficits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 949-963, August.
  12. Sorensen, B.E. & Yosha, O., 1997. "Federal Insurance of the U.S. States: An Empirical Investigation," Papers 16-97, Tel Aviv.
  13. Karras, Georgios, 1996. "Are the Output Effects of Monetary Policy Asymmetric? Evidence from a Sample of European Countries," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(2), pages 267-78, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Tagkalakis, Athanasios, 2008. "The effects of fiscal policy on consumption in recessions and expansions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1486-1508, June.
  2. C. Randall Henning & Martin Kessler, 2012. "Fiscal federalism: US history for architects of Europe's fiscal union," Essays and Lectures 669, Bruegel.
  3. Roberta Moreira Wichmann & Marcelo Savino Portugal, 2014. "Política Fiscal Assimétrica: O Caso Do Brasil," Anais do XLI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 41th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 038, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  4. Christian Ariel Volpe Martincus & Andrea Molinari, 2005. "Regional Business Cycles and National Economic Borders - What are the Effects of Trade in Developing Countries?," ERSA conference papers ersa05p93, European Regional Science Association.
  5. Edelman, Mark, 2003. "Appraisal Comments on Tax Increment Financing Effectiveness in the Context of Evaluating Iowa Tax Policy Alternatives," Staff General Research Papers 10207, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.

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