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Choosing the Pace of Fiscal Consolidation

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  • Łukasz Rawdanowicz
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    Abstract

    In many OECD countries debt has soared to levels threatening fiscal sustainability, necessitating its reduction over the medium to longer term. This paper uses stylised simulations in a small, calibrated macroeconomic model which features endogenous interactions between fiscal policy, growth and financial markets. Simulations are done for a hypothetical economy, reflecting key characteristics of fiscally stressed OECD countries. Given the assumed objective to stabilise debt at a 60% of GDP target within 20 years, a consolidation path is chosen by maximising cumulative GDP growth and minimising cumulative squared output gaps. The simulations highlight four issues. First, lowering the debt-to-GDP ratio within a finite horizon requires big initial consolidation which can be largely unwound if debt is to be stabilised at a lower level. Second, some frontloading of the adjustment turns out to be optimal in case of an interest rate shock. Third, debt reduction with high fiscal multipliers, hysteresis effects and adverse market reactions involves protracted large negative output gaps and deflation. This stresses the importance of selecting reasonable fiscal targets consistent with market conditions. Fourth, delaying the attainment of the debt target by two years has generally little implications for initial consolidation, though under adverse conditions this would result in much higher debt and slower growth. Choisir le rythme de l'assainissement budgétaire Dans de nombreux pays de l'OCDE, la dette a atteint des niveaux menaçant la viabilité budgétaire, nécessitant sa réduction à moyen et à long terme. Ce document utilise des simulations stylisées mises en oeuvre avec un petit modèle macroéconomique calibré qui tient compte des interactions endogènes entre la politique budgétaire, la croissance et les marchés financiers. Les simulations sont réalisées pour une économie fictive reflétant les principales caractéristiques des pays de l'OCDE en difficulté budgétaire. Compte tenu de l'objectif de stabiliser la dette à 60% du PIB à horizon de 20 ans, le chemin de l’assainissement est choisi par la maximisation de la croissance cumulée du PIB et par la minimisation des carrés des écarts de production. Les simulations mettent en évidence quatre problèmes. Tout d'abord, l'abaissement du ratio dette sur PIB à horizon fini exige une grande consolidation initiale qui peut être largement annulée par la suite si la dette doit être stabilisée à un niveau inférieur. Deuxièmement, une montée en charge plus rapide de l’assainissement est optimale en cas de chocs de taux d'intérêt. Troisièmement, en cas de multiplicateurs fiscaux élevés, de phénomènes d'hystérèse et de réactions défavorables des marchés, la réduction de la dette implique des périodes prolongées d’écarts de production négatifs importants et de déflation. Cela souligne l'importance de choisir des objectifs budgétaires raisonnables et compatibles avec les conditions de marché. Quatrièmement, reporter l'assainissement et l’atteinte des objectifs de dette de deux ans a généralement des répercussions légères sur la consolidation initiale, mais dans des conditions défavorables, il en résulte une dette beaucoup plus élevée et une croissance beaucoup plus lente.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k92n2xg106g-en
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 992.

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    Date of creation: 24 Sep 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:992-en

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    Keywords: fiscal rules; government budget balance; sovereign debt; fiscal consolidation; assainissement budgétaire; équilibre budgétaire du gouvernement; règle budgétaire; dette souveraine;

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    1. Michael Woodford, 2010. "Simple Analytics of the Government Expenditure Multiplier," NBER Working Papers 15714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. J. Galí & D. López-Salido & J. Vallés, 2003. "Understanding the effects of government spending on consumption," Proceedings, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
    4. Lawrence Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2009. "When is the government spending multiplier large?," NBER Working Papers 15394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Romain Bouis & Boris Cournède & Ane Kathrine Christensen, 2012. "Implications of Output Gap Uncertainty in Times of Crisis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 977, OECD Publishing.
    6. Hansjörg Blöchliger & Dae-Ho Song & Douglas Sutherland, 2012. "Fiscal Consolidation: Part 4. Case Studies of Large Fiscal Consolidation Episodes," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 935, OECD Publishing.
    7. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2010. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 16311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2010. "Growth in a Time of Debt," NBER Working Papers 15639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Ugo Panizza & Andrea Filippo Presbitero, 2012. "Public Debt and Economic Growth: Is There a Causal Effect?," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 65, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    10. Isabell Koske & Nigel Pain, 2008. "The Usefulness of Output Gaps for Policy Analysis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 621, OECD Publishing.
    11. Stephen Cecchetti & Madhusudan Mohanty & Fabrizio Zampolli, 2011. "The real effects of debt," BIS Working Papers 352, Bank for International Settlements.
    12. Douglas Sutherland & Peter Hoeller & Rossana Merola, 2012. "Fiscal Consolidation: Part 1. How Much is Needed and How to Reduce Debt to a Prudent Level?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 932, OECD Publishing.
    13. Ray Barrell & Dawn Holland & Ian Hurst, 2012. "Fiscal Consolidation: Part 2. Fiscal Multipliers and Fiscal Consolidations," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 933, OECD Publishing.
    14. Daniel Kanda, 2011. "Modeling Optimal Fiscal Consolidation Paths in a Selection of European Countries," IMF Working Papers 11/164, International Monetary Fund.
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    Cited by:
    1. Åsa Johansson & Yvan Guillemette & Fabrice Murtin & David Turner & Giuseppe Nicoletti & Christine de la Maisonneuve & Philip Bagnoli & Guillaume Bousquet & Francesca Spinelli, 2013. "Long-Term Growth Scenarios," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1000, OECD Publishing.

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