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Early Warning or Just Wise After the Event? The Problem of Using Cyclically Adjusted Budget Deficits for Fiscal Surveillance

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  • Hughes Hallett, Andrew
  • Kattai, Rasmus
  • Lewis, John

Abstract

The effectiveness of cyclically adjusted balances (CABs) as an indicator of the health of public finances depends on the accuracy with which cyclically adjusted figures can be calculated in real time. This paper measures the accuracy of such figures using a specially constructed real time data set containing published values of deficits, output gaps and cyclically adjusted deficits from successive issues of the OECD's Economic Outlook. We find that data revisions are so great that real time CABs have low power in detecting fiscal slippages as defined by the ex-post data. We find that around half the real time errors in CABs can be attributed to revisions in the cyclical component of the budget balance, and around one half to revisions in the deficit to GDP ratio across vintages. Our results are consistent with the conjecture that policy makers have presented favourable estimates of their fiscal position in order to reduce scrutiny or the probability of sanctions for lax behaviour.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6213.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6213

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Keywords: Cyclically Adjusted Budget Deficits; False and Missed Alarms; Potential Output; Real Time Data;

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References

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  1. Giavazzi, Francesco & Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 2000. "Searching for non-linear effects of fiscal policy: Evidence from industrial and developing countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1259-1289, June.
  2. Buti, M. & Eijffinger, S.C.W. & Franco, D., 2003. "Revisiting the Stability and Growth Pact: Grand Design or Internal Adjustment?," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-176184, Tilburg University.
  3. de Haan, Jakob & Berger, Helge & Jansen, David-Jan, 2003. "The end of stability and growth pact?," Discussion Papers 2003/16, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  4. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo, 2007. "On the Relationship between Fiscal Plans in the European Union: An Empirical Analysis Based on Real-Time Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 6088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Alain GUAY & Pierre SAINT-AMANT, 2005. "Do the Hodrick-Prescott and Baxter-King Filters Provide a Good Approximation of Business Cycles?," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 77, pages 133-155.
  6. Lorenzo Forni & Sandro Momigliano, 2004. "Cyclical sensitivity of fiscal policies based on real-time data," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 540, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  7. Athanasios Orphanides, 2001. "Monetary Policy Rules Based on Real-Time Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 964-985, September.
  8. Jakob de Haan & Helge Berger & David-Jan Jansen, 2003. "The End of the Stability and Growth Pact?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1093, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. St-Amant, P. & van Norden, S., 1997. "Measurement of the Output Gap: A Discussion of Recent Research at the Bank of Canada," Technical Reports 79, Bank of Canada.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Beetsma, Roel & Giuliodori, Massimo, 2007. "On the Relationship between Fiscal Plans in the European Union: An Empirical Analysis Based on Real-Time Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 6088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Cepparulo, Alessandra & Gastaldi, Francesca & Giuriato, Luisa & Sacchi, Agnese, 2011. "Budgeting versus implementing fiscal policy:the Italian case," MPRA Paper 32474, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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