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Government Investment and the European Stability and Growth Pact

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  • Marco Bassetto
  • Vadym Lepetyuk

Abstract

We consider the effect of excluding government investment from the deficit subject to the limits of the European Stability and Growth Pact. In the model we consider, residents of a given country discount future costs and benefits of government spending more than efficiency would dictate, because they fail to take into account the portion that will accrue to people that have not yet been born or immigrated into the country. It is thus in principle desirable to design budget rules that favor long-term investment (by allowing more borrowing) over other government spending that only carries short-term benefits. However, given the low rates of population growth, mortality, and mobility across European countries, we find that the distortions arising from treating all government spending equally are likely to be modest. We also show that these modest distortions can be alleviated only if net government investment is excluded from the deficit computation; excluding gross investment may even be counterproductive, as it promotes overspending in government capital.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13200.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Publication status: published as Marco Bassetto & Vadym Lepetyuk, 2007. "Government investment and the European stability and growth pact," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 33-43.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13200

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  1. Dixit, Avinash & Lambertini, Luisa, 2001. "Monetary-fiscal policy interactions and commitment versus discretion in a monetary union," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 977-987, May.
  2. Thomas J. Sargent & Marco Bassetto, 2004. "Politics and Efficiency of Separating Capital and Ordinary Government Budgets," 2004 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 3, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Assar Lindbeck & Dirk Niepelt, 2005. "Improving the SGP: Taxes and Delegation rather than Fines," CESifo Working Paper Series 1389, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Fabrizio Balassone & Daniele Franco, 2000. "Public investment, the Stability Pact and the ‘golden rule’," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(2), pages 207-229, June.
  6. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2004. "Improving the SGP Through a Proper Accounting of Public Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 4220, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-71, October.
  8. Weil, Philippe, 1989. "Overlapping families of infinitely-lived agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 183-198, March.
  9. V.V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2004. "On the Desirability of Fiscal Constraints in a Monetary Union," NBER Working Papers 10232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Stokey, Nancy L., 1983. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy in an economy without capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 55-93.
  11. Beetsma, Roel & Uhlig, Harald, 1999. "An Analysis of the Stability and Growth Pact," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(458), pages 546-71, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Marco Bassetto & Leslie McGranahan, 2011. "On the Relationship Between Mobility, Population Growth, and Capital Spending in the United States," NBER Working Papers 16970, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Marco Bassetto, 2009. "The Research Agenda: Marco Bassetto on the Quantitative Evaluation of Fiscal Policy Rules," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(2), April.

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