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Can we rely on real time figures for cyclically adjusted budget balances?

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Author Info

  • Andrew Hughes Hallett

    ()

  • Rasmus Kattai

    ()

  • John Lewis

    ()

Abstract

This paper analyses the reliability of real time estimates of cyclically adjust budget balances (CABs). We find that real time CABs are not better at forecasting the ex post figures than simpler benchmarks. Further, we find that real time CABs have low power in detecting fiscal slippages, and in correctly identifying fiscal improvements. Around half of 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. That means it will be difficult to use them to reliably monitor the health of public finances. Lastly, we find that CABs are systematically less reliable under conditions of poor or deteriorating public finances, which means they are at their most unreliable precisely when they are needed most

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Estonia in its series Bank of Estonia Working Papers with number 2009-2.

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Date of creation: 20 Oct 2009
Date of revision: 20 Oct 2009
Handle: RePEc:eea:boewps:wp2009-02

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Keywords: real time data; cylically adjusted budget deficits; measurement error;

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References

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  1. Athanasios Orphanides & Simon van Norden, 2001. "The Unreliability of Output Gap Estimates in Real Time," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-57, CIRANO.
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  4. Alain Guay & Pierre St-Amant, 1997. "Do the Hodrick-Prescott and Baxter-King Filters Provide a Good Approximation of Business Cycles?," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 53, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
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  11. Olivier Jean Blanchard, 1990. "Suggestions for a New Set of Fiscal Indicators," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 79, OECD Publishing.
  12. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Kattai, Rasmus & Lewis, John, 2007. "Early Warning or Just Wise After the Event? The Problem of Using Cyclically Adjusted Budget Deficits for Fiscal Surveillance," CEPR Discussion Papers 6213, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Breuss, Fritz & Roeger, Werner, 2005. "The SGP fiscal rule in the case of sluggish growth: Simulations with the QUEST model," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 767-788, October.
  14. Hallett, Andrew Hughes & Lewis, John, 2008. "European Fiscal Discipline Before And After Emu: Crash Diet Or Permanent Weight Loss?," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 404-424, June.
  15. Paul van den Noord, 2000. "The Size and Role of Automatic Fiscal Stabilizers in the 1990s and Beyond," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 230, OECD Publishing.
  16. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
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