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The cyclical response of fiscal policies in the euro area. Why do results of empirical research differ so strongly?

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Author Info

  • Roberto Golinelli

    ()
    (University of Bologna, Department of Economics)

  • Sandro Momigliano

    ()
    (Bank of Italy, Department for Structural Economic Analysis)

Abstract

Whether discretionary fiscal policies in industrialized countries act counter- or pro-cyclically and whether their reaction is symmetric or asymmetric over the cycle are still largely unsettled questions. This uncertainty remains even when attention is restricted to euro-area countries, where these questions have important implications for the debate on European fiscal rules. We review the recent empirical literature to explain why the results of the various studies differ so greatly. We find that differences are driven partly by the choices made in modelling fiscal behaviour and in the related notions of fiscal policy cyclicality. Results are also affected by data source and vintage (ex post or real-time). The time period chosen is relatively less important. We conclude that the notion of pro-cyclical fiscal policies often upheld in the debate is not justified by the data. Ex post data suggest either a-cyclicality or weak counter-cyclicality. Real-time information gives clearer indications of counter-cyclical behaviour, especially when we progress from a very simple “core” model to a more complex one, including at least the impact of fiscal rules. As for symmetry or asymmetry, the answer varies with sources of data and time periods. With the more complex model the indications of asymmetric behaviour are more robust. Whenever asymmetry is present, it entails shifts in all the parameters of the fiscal rule and not necessarily in the output gap parameter.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 654.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_654_08

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Related research

Keywords: fiscal policy; euro-area countries; fiscal rules; pro and counter-cyclical policies; policy symmetry over the cycle; ex post and real-time data; dynamic panel models.;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Vito Tanzi, 2011. "The Return to Fiscal Rectitude After the Recent Escapade," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 253-277, JULY-SEPT.
  2. Roel Beetsma & Massimo Giuliodori, 2010. "Fiscal adjustment to cyclical developments in the OECD: an empirical analysis based on real-time data," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(3), pages 419-441, July.
  3. Muscatelli, Vito A. & Natale, Piergiovanna & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2012. "A simple and flexible alternative to Stability and Growth Pact deficit ceilings. Is it at hand?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 14-26.
  4. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo & Walschot, Mark & Wierts, Peter, 2010. "Fifty Years of Fiscal Planning and Implementation in the Netherlands," CEPR Discussion Papers 7969, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Bernardi, Luigi, 2009. "Quali percorsi per la finanza pubblica italiana? Primi elementi di discussione
    [Perspective developments of public finance in Italy: a primer]
    ," MPRA Paper 17578, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo & Wierts, Peter, 2009. "Budgeting versus implementing fiscal policy in the EU," CEPR Discussion Papers 7285, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Ionut Dumitru & Razvan Stanca, 2011. "Fiscal discipline and economic growth – the case of Romania," Advances in Economic and Financial Research - DOFIN Working Paper Series 50, Bucharest University of Economics, Center for Advanced Research in Finance and Banking - CARFIB.
  8. Andrew Hughes Hallett & Rasmus Kattai & John Lewis, 2009. "Can we rely on real time figures for cyclically adjusted budget balances?," Bank of Estonia Working Papers 2009-2, Bank of Estonia, revised 20 Oct 2009.
  9. Agnello, Luca & Cimadomo, Jacopo, 2009. "Discretionary Fiscal Policies over the Cycle: New Evidence based on the ESCB Disaggregated Approach," Working Paper Series 1118, European Central Bank.
  10. Alessandro Turrini, 2008. "Fiscal policy and the cycle in the Euro Area: The role of government revenue and expenditure," European Economy - Economic Papers 323, Directorate General Economic and Monetary Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  11. Álvaro M. Pina, 2009. "Elusive Counter-Cyclicality and Deliberate Opportunism? Fiscal Policy from Plans to Final Outcomes," Working Papers w200906, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.

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