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Automatic Stabilisation, Discretionary Policy and the Stability Pact

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This paper describes recent trends on the efficiency of stabilisers in the European Union. Using both macro evidence on the cyclical sensitivity of budget deficit to economic activity, and micro evidence on the tax and expenditure profiles, we conclude, in agreement with the recent literature, that the importance of automatic stabilisation has decreased. After remarking that this trend is contradictory with the current economic institutions of Europe relying exclusively on automatic stabilisation for the conduct of fiscal policy, we argue that increasing flexibility, one alternative way to reduce cyclical fluctuations, does not seem a viable path. The paper concludes defending the appropriateness of discretionary fiscal policy. We argue by means of a simple model that the theoretical arguments against its use are not conclusive, and we describe a recent stream of literature, based on structural VAR models, that concludes rather robustly for the effectiveness of discretionary fiscal policy in the short and long run.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2008-15.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:0815

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Keywords: Automatic stabilisers; progressivity; unemployment benefits; discretionary fiscal policy; European fiscal institutions;

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  17. Paola Monperrus-Veroni & Francesco Saraceno, 2005. "Reform of the Stability and Growth Pact: Reducing or Increasing the Nuisance?," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2005-01, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Of Old Ideas about Inequality and Growth
    by Francesco Saraceno in Sparse Thoughts of a Gloomy European Economist on 2012-08-06 09:25:21
  2. Of Old Ideas about Inequality and Growth
    by Francesco Saraceno in Sparse Thoughts of a Gloomy European Economist on 2012-08-06 09:25:21
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Cited by:
  1. Creel, Jérôme & Hubert, Paul & Saraceno, Francesco, 2013. "An assessment of the Stability and Growth Pact reform in a small-scale macro-framework," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1567-1580.
  2. Jean-Paul Fitoussi & Francesco Saraceno, 2009. "How Deep is a Crisis? Policy Responses and Structural Factors Behind Diverging Performances," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2009-31, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  3. Jean-Paul Fitoussi & Francesco Saraceno, 2010. "Inequality and Macroeconomic Performance," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2010-13, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
  4. Paul Hubert & Jérôme Creel & Francesco Saraceno, 2012. "An assessment of stability and growth pact reform proposals in a small-scale macro framework," Sciences Po publications 2012-04, Sciences Po.
  5. Jean-Paul Fitoussi & Francesco Saraceno, 2013. "European economic governance: the Berlin–Washington Consensus," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(3), pages 479-496.
  6. European Commission, 2010. "Tax Policy after the Crisis: Monitoring Tax Revenues and Tax Reforms in EU Member States 2010 Report," Taxation Papers 24, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.

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