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The Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Rules in the US States

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  • Fatás, Antonio
  • Mihov, Ilian

Abstract

Fiscal policy restrictions are often criticized for limiting the ability of governments to react to business cycle fluctuations. Therefore, the adoption of quantitative restrictions is viewed as inevitably leading to increased macroeconomic volatility. In this Paper we use data from 48 US states to investigate how budget rules affect fiscal policy outcomes. Our key findings are that (1) strict budgetary restrictions lead to lower policy volatility (i.e. less discretion in conducting fiscal policy); and (2) fiscal restrictions reduce the responsiveness of fiscal policy to output shocks and decrease the persistence of spending fluctuations. These two results should have opposite effects on output volatility. While less discretion should reduce volatility, less responsiveness of fiscal policy might amplify business cycle volatility. Our analysis shows that the first effect dominates and that restrictions on fiscal policy lead to less volatility in output.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4372.

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Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4372

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Keywords: business cycles; fiscal policy; fiscal rules;

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  1. Mark Hallerberg & Jurgen von Hagen, 1997. "Electoral Institutions, Cabinet Negotiations, and Budget Deficits in the European Union," NBER Working Papers 6341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Tamim Bayoumi, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Fiscal Rules: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Fatas, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2001. "Government size and automatic stabilizers: international and intranational evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 3-28, October.
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  9. Alberto F. Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1999. "Budget Deficits and Budget Institutions," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 13-36 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Fatás, Antonio & Mihov, Ilian, 2002. "The Case for Restricting Fiscal Policy Discretion," CEPR Discussion Papers 3277, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Roberto Perotti & Massimo Rostagno, 2002. "Electoral Systems And Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(2), pages 609-657, May.
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  17. Jakob de Haan & Wim Moessen & Bjom Volkerink, 1999. "Budgetary Procedures-Aspects and Changes: New Evidence for Some European Countries," NBER Chapters, in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 265-300 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Perotti, Roberto & Kontopoulos, Yianos, 2002. "Fragmented fiscal policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 191-222, November.
  19. Barry Eichengreen & Ricardo Hausmann & Jürgen Von Hagen, 1999. "Reforming Budgetary Institutions in Latin America: The Case for a National Fiscal Council," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 415-442, October.
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