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Did Fiscal Policy Makers Know What They Were Doing? Reassessing Fiscal Policy with Real Time Data

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  • Bernoth, Kerstin
  • Hughes Hallett, Andrew
  • Lewis, John

Abstract

Empirical fiscal policy reaction functions based on ex-post data cannot be said to describe fiscal policymakers intentions because they utilise data which did not exist when their decisions were made. A characterisation of what fiscal policy makers were trying to do requires real time data. This paper compares fiscal policy reaction functions for 14 European countries over the period 1995-2006 using both types of data. We exploit the information contained in real time and ex-post data and develop a new approach to estimating the automatic and discretionary fiscal policy responses to changing economic conditions. This avoids the uncertainties and inaccuracies associated with filtering the data in an attempt to estimate potential output or the structural budget. We find that the often commented on pro-cyclicality of discretionary policy only arises in the ex-post data; the real time data suggests that policymakers have tried to run counter-cyclical discretionary policy, but find it hard to do so due to data constraints. Compared to elsewhere in the literature, our model yields lower estimates of the automatic fiscal responses and stronger estimates of the discretionary responses to the output gap.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6758.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6758

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Keywords: Discretion; Fiscal Policy; Real Time Data;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Guido Baldi & Karsten Staehr, 2013. "The European debt crisis and fiscal reaction functions in Europe 2000–2012," Bank of Estonia Working Papers wp2013-5, Bank of Estonia, revised 24 Jul 2013.
  2. Georgios Efthyvoulou, 2012. "Political budget cycles in the European Union and the impact of political pressures," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(3), pages 295-327, December.
  3. Gabrisch, Hurbert & Orlowski, Lucjan & Pusch, Toralf, 2012. "Sovereign Default Risk in the Euro-Periphery and the Euro-Candidate Countries," Working Papers 2012002, Sacred Heart University, John F. Welch College of Business.
  4. Roel Beetsma & Benjamin Bluhm & Massimo Giuliodori & Peter Wierts, 2011. "From First-Release to Ex-Post Fiscal Data: Exploring the Sources of Revision Errors in the EU," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-080/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Serhan Cevik & Katerina Teksoz, 2014. "Deep Roots of Fiscal Behavior," IMF Working Papers 14/45, International Monetary Fund.
  6. 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.
  7. Balázs Égert, 2010. "Fiscal Policy Reaction to the Cycle in the OECD: Pro- or Counter-cyclical?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 763, OECD Publishing.
  8. Ioannou, Demosthenes & Stracca, Livio, 2011. "Have euro area and EU economic governance worked? Just the facts," Working Paper Series 1344, European Central Bank.
  9. repec:dgr:uvatin:2011080 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Jacopo Cimadomo, 2011. "Real-Time Data and Fiscal Policy Analysis: a Survey of the Literature," Working Papers 2011-20, CEPII research center.
  11. 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.
  12. Alexander Klemm, 2014. "Fiscal Policy in Latin America over the Cycle," IMF Working Papers 14/59, International Monetary Fund.

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