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Fiscal Policy and Public Debt Dynamics in Italy, 1861-2009

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Abstract

We examine the historical dynamics of government debt in post-unification Italy, from 1861 to 2009. Unit root tests for the debt-GDP ratio are unable to reject either the non-stationarity or the stationarity null hypothesis. Controlling debt dynamics for fiscal feedback policies of the Barro-Bohn style, however, the debt-GDP ratio is found to be mean-reverting. Mean-reversion in the debt-GDP ratio is due not only to a nominal growth dividend, but also to a positive response of primary surpluses to variations in outstanding debt. There is indeed significant evidence that, over the history of Italy, fiscal policy makers have reacted to the accumulation of debt, taking corrective measures to rule out potential long-term sustainability problems.

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Paper provided by Tor Vergata University, CEIS in its series CEIS Research Paper with number 248.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 27 Jul 2012
Date of revision: 27 Jul 2012
Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:248

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Postal: CEIS - Centre for Economic and International Studies - Faculty of Economics - University of Rome "Tor Vergata" - Via Columbia, 2 00133 Roma
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Web: http://www.ceistorvergata.it

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Keywords: Fiscal Policy; Public Debt; Fiscal Sustainability;

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  1. Trabandt, Mathias & Uhlig, Harald, 2011. "The Laffer curve revisited," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 305-327.
  2. Mathias Trabandt & Harald Uhlig, 2012. "How do Laffer curves differ across countries?," International Finance Discussion Papers 1048, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Hess Chung & Troy Davig & Eric Leeper, 2004. "Monetary and Fiscal Policy Switching," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 325, Society for Computational Economics.
  4. Harald Uhlig & Mathias Trabandt, 2009. "How Far are We from the Slippery Slope? The Laffer Curve Revisited," Working Papers 2009-005, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
  5. Johansen, Soren, 1995. "Likelihood-Based Inference in Cointegrated Vector Autoregressive Models," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774501, October.
  6. International Monetary Fund, 2010. "A Historical Public Debt Database," IMF Working Papers 10/245, International Monetary Fund.
  7. Kwiatkowski, D. & Phillips, P.C.B. & Schmidt, P., 1990. "Testing the Null Hypothesis of Stationarity Against the Alternative of Unit Root : How Sure are we that Economic Time Series have a Unit Root?," Papers 8905, Michigan State - Econometrics and Economic Theory.
  8. Clemente, Jesus & Montanes, Antonio & Reyes, Marcelo, 1998. "Testing for a unit root in variables with a double change in the mean," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 175-182, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Piergallini, Alessandro & Postigliola, Michele, 2013. "Non-Linear Budgetary Policies: Evidence from 150 Years of Italian Public Finance," MPRA Paper 48922, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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